The group (most of) in April 2022

Giorgio Volpe

Principal Investigator

I am Professor of Soft Matter at the Department of Chemistry, University College London (UCL). You can find my detailed citation metrics at Publons, Google Scholar or ResearchGate. Before joining UCL as a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry in 2014, I was a CNRS postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel and at the Institut Langevin (Paris, France), where I performed research on nanophotonics of scattering media and wavefront shaping. My advisor was Prof Sylvain Gigan. In May 2012, I obtained my PhD at ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences (Barcelona, Spain). My advisor was Prof Romain Quidant. During my PhD, my research was focused primarily on optimizing light-matter interaction with very small quantities of matter down to the single molecule level. In particular, I explored novel ways of controlling the optical response of nanoantennas either through novel designs or in a dynamical and deterministic way by spatially shaping the illumination. Before enrolling in the PhD program, I received my Master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Padua (Italy) in October 2007.


Joe Forth

Honorary Research Fellow

I am a Ramsay Memorial Fellow at UCL Chemistry, where I study complex and active liquid matter and develop 3D printed blood-brain barrier models for drug delivery applications. I got my PhD in Soft Matter Physics with Paul Clegg at Edinburgh in 2015, where I studied interfacial rheology and emulsions stabilised by insoluble components. After a quick stint in industry with Croda International, I went to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, USA) to work with Tom Russell and Brett Helms on 3D printed structures made entirely of liquids. After two years, I moved back to the UK to work for Prof. Giuseppe Battaglia on polymer nanovesicles and computational image analysis. You can find my full research history at Google Scholar.


Harsh Bhatia

Postdoctoral Researcher

Currently, I am working as postdoctoral research associate in the groups of Dr Giorgio Volpe and Dr Bob Schroeder to develop organic semiconductor materials for printing applications. I received my M.Sc. in Chemistry from the Central University of Kerala (India) in 2015. In 2016, I joined Dr Debdas Ray’s group at Shiv Nadar University (India) first as a Junior Research Fellow and then as Ph.D. research scholar. During my Ph.D., my research was based on designing, synthesising and understanding the photophysical properties of purely organic persistent luminescence-based room temperature phosphorescence (RTP) materials. Alongside, my research interest was to develop thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) based molecules and understanding the photophysics of simultaneous TADF and RTP from these single molecular systems. I completed my Ph.D. in October 2020 and then moved to University College London (UCL) in March 2021 as postdoctoral research associate under the joint supervision of Dr Robert Palgrave and Dr Bob Schroeder to work on Bismuth based coordination complexes for solar light absorption.


Robert Malinowski

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a Research Fellow in the Volpe group investigating the deposition of materials from controllable, motile droplets. I am currently building on my PhD work where I developed a method of manipulating these droplets using only a small source of vapour, allowing intricate control over their behaviours and the materials within them. We hope to use this phenomenon to extract enhanced functionalities from different materials using this interplay between chemistry and physics rather than additives or chemical modification. I have had several industrial roles in between my academic positions, including the synthesis of pharmacological candidates for a BioFocus (now Charles River), the synthesis of polycarbonate catalysts for Econic Technologies and the heterogenous functionalisation of cellulose nanofibers for affinity chromatography for Cytiva.


Solomon Asghar

PhD Student

I am currently working towards a PhD at UCL’s department of Chemistry under the supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe (UCL) and Dr Qing Xiang Pei (A*STAR, Singapore). This project is a collaboration with Dr Ran Ni (NTU, Singapore). My project focuses on the development of a new numerical scheme for modelling non-equilibrium dynamic systems, using deep-learning approaches to gain efficiency not possible with conventional molecular dynamics or Monte Carlo simulations. Over my first year I will be simulating single particle systems via implementation of the recently proposed Boltzmann Generator numerical technique, which has thus far only been applied to equilibrium systems. My second and third years will be spent at the A*STAR Institute of High-Performance Computing in Singapore, and the framework developed at UCL will be extended to multiple particle non-equilibrium systems. Before joining Dr Volpe’s group, I graduated from Imperial College London with an MSci in Chemistry. My masters project focussed on studying transition-metal phthalocyanine semiconductors using DFT, in search of structures that retain ferromagnetic coupling at room temperature.


Valentino Barbieri

PhD Student

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I am currently studying for my PhD under the joint supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe and Prof Battaglia at UCL. The project focuses on the development of plasmonic-activated polymer nanovescicles capable of autonomous movement driven by external light stimulation. Such bioinspired nanorobots have a huge potential for applications in the field of targeted drug delivery. Before starting my PhD, I worked as a process development engineer for a multinational semiconductor company for almost 3 years. I received my Master’s degree in Materials Engineering and Nanotechnology from Politecnico di Milano (Italy). My final thesis project dealt with the investigation of charge transfer between metal nanoparticles and carbon atom wires by vibrational spectroscopy.


Zach Edwards

PhD Student

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I am currently studying a PhD under the supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe and Dr Bob Schroeder at UCL. My project focuses on the self-assembly of organic semiconductors for printable electronics using a droplet manipulation technique. I previously graduated from Greenwich University with an MChem. My masters project looked into the synthesis and spectroscopic study of diketopiperazine nanocrystals for drug delivery systems.


Alessia Gentili

PhD Student

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I am a PhD student under the supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe. My project deals with the study of the physics of foraging and aims at identifying optimal search strategies in active matter systems at all scales. In particular, Janus particles will be used as model systems to implement different bio-inspired collective search strategies, in order to confirm or not their validity both at an experimental and theoretical level. The main goal is to obtain critical information that will allow the development of searchers that can successfully explore space, for example, to optimise the release of drugs in the human body at the microscale or to perform efficient search-and-rescue missions at the macroscale. Before working at UCL, I graduated in Physics from La Sapienza University, Rome (Italy), with a master thesis focusing on the study of stationary states of photokinetic bacteria, i.e. bacteria whose speed can be controlled by light, in static and dynamic light patterns.


Sandrine Heijnen

PhD Student

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I am a PhD student under the supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe and Prof Phil Jones at UCL. I am also part of the Innovative Training Network on Active Matter. My project focusses on controlling and predicting the collective behaviour of active particles, such as Janus colloids and superparamagnetic colloids, while being influenced by external stimuli such as magnetic fields and laser illumination. Previous to starting my PhD at UCL, I completed my Master’s Degree in Nanomaterials and my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The focus of my Master’s thesis was to study the depletion-induced formation of chiral chains of superparamagnetic particles.


Maisie Milton

PhD Student

I am a PhD student studying at UCL’s department of Civil, Environmental and Engineering, under the supervision of Dr Lena Ciric and Dr Giorgio Volpe. My project investigates how a bacterium’s local microscopic environment influences its ability to horizontally transfer antibiotic resistance genes. Specifically, the effect of surface topography on the spread of carbapenem resistance encoding plasmids between Enterobacteriaceae. Ultimately this work aims to facilitate the engineering of surfaces that inhibit the spread of antimicrobial resistance genes in both clinical and environmental settings. Prior to joining UCL, I graduated from the University of Birmingham with an MSc in Microbiology and Infection. My MSc project used molecular genetic techniques to edit a ‘curing’ plasmid (pCURE), which is designed to spread through a microbial population and displace multidrug resistance plasmids, restoring the populations antibiotic susceptibility. 


Maks Pecnik Bambic

PhD Student

I am currently studying for a PhD at UCL’s department of Chemistry under the supervision of Dr Giorgio Volpe (UCL) and Dr Qing Xiang Pei (A*STAR, Singapore), in collaboration with Dr Ran Ni (NTU, Singapore). My project focuses on the investigation of the in silico development of new self-folding materials for targeted deliver with the help of deep learning and Bayesian methods. The project will be carried out at UCL in my first year and continued in Singapore where I will spend two years, before returning back to UCL to finish my project. Before starting my PhD, I had completed my MChem in Chemistry with Computational Chemistry at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. My masters project focused on improving the quality of information extracted from a Velocity Map Imaging experiment, using a deep learning model as opposed to traditional algorithmical methods.


Anshu Thapa

PhD Student

Anshu

I am currently studying for my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Giorgio Volpe and Dr. Matthew Blunt in the Department of Chemistry at UCL. My project focuses on adapting a contactless droplet manipulation technique for controlled self-assembly of two-dimensional covalent-organic frameworks (2D-COFs) at liquid-liquid and solid-liquid interfaces. Previously, I was teaching science for two years at Secondary level in the UK. I obtained my masters in Physics from the University of Bath in 2017. My masters research was cross-disciplinary and focused on unveiling the underlying mechanisms behind biosensing for easy detection of cancer biomarker CA19-9, which was conducted in partnership with the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil under the supervision of Osvaldo N. Oliveira.


Alumni

Dr Stanislaw Makarchuk – PDRA (2017-2019)

Dr Robert Malinowski – PhD (2015-2020)

Mr Manish Trivedi – PhD (2017-2022)

Mr David Bronte – PhD Candidate (2022), CNR-IPCF Messina

Mr Lancelot Barthe – Erasmus+ Intern, ENS Rennes

Mr Muhammed Bilgin – Erasmus+ Intern, Bilkent University

Mr Joseph Buckley – 4th Year Undergraduate Student

Mr Tianyi Ge – 4th Year Undergraduate Student

Mr Flis Gniewomir – 4th Year Undergraduate Student

Mr Bilal Hassan – MRes Student

Mr Robert McDonald – 4th Year Undergraduate Student

Ms Yasmin Lau – MRes Student

Mr Korhan Osman – MRes Student

Ms Samantha Su-Ping Rueber – 4th Year Undergraduate Student

Ms Miruna Tanase – 4th Year Undergraduate Student

Mr Zenon Tropakcioglu – 4th Year Undergraduate Student