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Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Dr Muriel Freixanet Gusta and Dr Maria Soler win the Women Talent Research Grants with their projects Saphna and DANCE

by Virginia Greco

The ICN2 Women Talent Programme proposes a series of actions aimed at supporting women scientists and promoting visibility of their research activity. The Research Grants provide funding for their research projects at the ICN2.

The ICN2 Equal Opportunity Committee has the pleasure to announce the recipients of funding under the Women Talent Research Grant Programme, which is part of the Equal Opportunities Plan announced a few weeks ago. The projects selected are Saphna, led by Dr Muriel Freixanet Gusta (Inorganic Nanoparticles Group) in the Post-doc category, and DANCE, led by Dr Maria Soler (Nanobiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications Group) in the Senior category.

These two projects were chosen out of 11 excellent proposals submitted. The goal of these grants is to promote early-career female scientists and support them in their path to achieve a leading position in research. The proposed projects must be aimed at exploring new scientific questions and technological challenges.

About the funded projects:

Saphna (Novel Synthetic Strategies for Advanced Pt-Based Hollow Nanocrystals)

PI: Dr Muriel Freixanet Gusta

The objective of this project is to design and develop a new generation of Pt-based hollow nanocrystals (NCs) with maximized catalytic activity for future energy and fuel technologies. The project aims to achieve this by fine-tuning the NC morphology, controlling the composition through surface engineering at the atomic level, and using alloying and multilayer growth techniques. The project also focuses on controlling the structural parameters that govern catalyst efficiency, including the total surface area, degree of Pt alloying with the Cobalt template, and control of the voiding/porosity process of the hollow structure. Additionally, the project aims to develop synthetic methods for producing the NCs, characterize their structure, assess their robustness, and study their reactivity and catalytic activity. The project also considers scaling up the synthesis process to bridge the gap between laboratory research and industrial applications, ensuring large quantities of NCs with uniformity, precise size, and shape control.

DANCE (Dielectric Nanophotonic Biosensors for Cell Studies)

PI: Dr Maria Soler

The objective of the DANCE project is to develop a pioneering nanophotonic sensor system that can rapidly analyze and profile live immune cells, specifically for evaluating the effectiveness of cell immunotherapies for ovarian cancer. This technology aims to provide a high-resolution, label-free detection method using all-dielectric nanoresonators integrated into a compact and user-friendly device. The project also aims to create an artificial cell membrane to simulate the natural microenvironment of cell interactions. The ultimate goal is to improve the efficiency and accessibility of personalized cancer treatments by reducing manufacturing time, costs, and delays in treatment administration.