The group in January 2023

Dr Nacho Martin-Fabiani (Group Leader)

Nacho was born and raised in Madrid, where he gained a Materials Physics BSc, a MSc on Polymer Science, and finally a PhD on polymer nanostructures in December 2013.

He headed to the UK to join the Department of Physics at the University of Surrey in 2014. There he spent two and a half years developing environmentally friendly coatings to protect steel from corrosion. During this time, he proved a self-assembly method in dispersions of large and small particles in water by which the small ones stratify in a layer above the large ones, enabling him to control the final architecture of the film. The work, published in Physical Review Letters, had extensive media coverage (more than 80 news outlets including the BBC) and kickstarted a new modelling and experimental field on stratification.

In 2016, he was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s fellowship at Loughborough University. Now his group is working on the self-assembly of polymer and composite colloids to obtain surfaces with various functionalities, e.g. antibacterial, abrasion resistant.

From 2020 he was appointed as a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, starting a 7-year project to exploit diffusion and self-assembly processes in colloidal dispersions for the development of soft products such as coatings, inks, or adhesives. Recently, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Materials Science.

Nacho has received several prestigious awards, including the Polymer Lecture Exchange Award by the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics and the Award for the Best PhD Thesis from the Spanish Association of Synchrotron Users (AUSE).

Dr Timothy Murdoch – Postdoctoral Research Associate

Tim grew up in Newcastle, Australia where he completed a B. E. (Hons.) in Chemical Engineering / B. Sc. in Chemistry. He stayed on to complete a PhD investigating specific ion effects on stimulus-responsive polymer brushes in 2018. His neutron reflectometry intensive project was supported by an Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Post Graduate Research Award and his thesis received the Outstanding PhD Award from the Australian Neutron Beam Users Group in 2019.

In May 2018, Tim began a 2.5 year postdoc sponsored by Lubrizol at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There, Tim utilised AFM and QCM-D measurements in combination with extensional rheology data to investigate the boundary lubricating mechanism of oil-soluble, associative polymers.

Tim joined the group in Jan 2021 and will be taking advantage of the recently acquired AFM-FLIM to study the underpinning mechanisms driving self-assembly in drying colloidal films.

Dr Constantina Sofroniou – Postdoctoral Research Associate

Constantina was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, where she obtained a BSc in Chemistry specialising in Materials Chemistry, and a MSc in Physical Chemistry. While at the University of Cyprus, she worked on drug encapsulation in electrospun polymer films and on lanthanide adsorption on phospholipid micelles.

In 2018 Constantina went for an Erasmus+ placement at the University of Florence, Italy, where she worked on specific ion effects in sodium oleate viscoelastic aqueous dispersions.

After that, Constantina stayed at the University of Florence for her PhD, which she completed in February 2022. She received a Marie-Skłodowska Curie fellowship during her PhD where she worked on the self-assembly of amphiphilic copolymers and perfume encapsulation in complex fluids.

Constantina joined the group in July 2022, and she will work on the fabrication of stratified colloidal films with antibacterial or antisoiling properties, with focus on understanding the interactions driving the particle self-assembly.

Huyen Le – EPSRC sponsored PhD student

Huyen received her Integrated MChem Degree from University of Sussex in 2021. She gained industrial experience with GlaxoSmithKline as an undergraduate, working in roles such as New Product Development and Product Chemistry Scientist. Her dissertation work focused on nanoscience’s application in waste-water treatment. Co-supervised by Elisa Mele and Tao Sun, Huyen is undertaking a PhD in the group developing more efficient and environmentally friendly antibacterial coatings as well as more realistic protocols to test their performance.

Boshen He – EPSRC sponsored PhD student

After receiving a BSc in Polymer Materials and Engineering (Beijing University of Chemical Technology) and a MSc in Materials Science (Loughborough University), Boshen started his PhD to work on the computational modelling of binary colloidal systems. His project involves collaboration with Andrew Archer and Gyula Toth at the Mathematical Sciences Department.

Ghazaleh Mazaheri Tehrani – PhD student

Ghazaleh completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering (Biomaterials) in 2018 at Science and Research University in Iran. She then achieved her MSc degree from the University of Sheffield in Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine in 2020. Ghazaleh is undertaking her PhD in the group and her project involves the fabrication and understanding of liposomal systems as well as advancing state-of-the-art experimental techniques – such as AFM and FLIM – to characterize them. Her project is co-supervised by Guido Bolognesi from the department of Chemical Engineering.

Lichang Lu– PhD student

Lichang completed his BEng (Sichuan University) and MSc (Loughborough University) in Polymer Materials and Engineering. He did a research project on PPVC recyclability at Loughborough University as an exchange student and went to Nanyang Technological University for an academic camp on polymer-based composites. Lichang is working on conductive polymer composites and phase change materials for his PhD, specifically for the thermal management of batteries and wearable devices, in collaboration with Yi Liu.

Evie Anghileri – PhD student

Evie graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2020 with a BSc with Honours in Sport and Exercise Sciences, with an International year completed at the University of Queensland in 2018/19. Her dissertation project revolved around investigating the putative increase in tetraspanin-positive extracellular vesicles following a bout of high intensity exercise. Evie then completed an MSc by Research in 2021 at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Dr Martin Whitham. The aim of this project was to assess the glycolytic enzyme content of extracellular vesicles in vivo and in vitro, and to assess the effect of nutritive and metabolic stress on such cargo. Evie is now completing a PhD supervised by Dr Owen Davies (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences) and Dr Nacho Martin-Fabiani (Department of Materials) to investigate the therapeutic potential of extracellular vesicles in bone regeneration.

Former group members

Dr James Tinkler, PhD student (2018-2022). Currently Materials Test Engineer at Sartorius Stedim Biotech.

Dr Yichen Dong, PhD student (2017-2020). Currently Process Integration Engineer at the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China.

Dr Paveena Tangudom, Visiting PhD student (2019-2020) from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. currently Postdoctoral Researcher at PETROMAT.

Dr Panupong Srimalanon, Visiting PhD student (2019-2020) from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. Currently Assistant Manager-Specialty Bussiness at Thai Wah Public Company Limited.

Dr Stavros Drakopoulos, PhD student (2016-2019), currently Research Fellow at the University of Bath.