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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Light-Driven Nanomachines for Cell Biology

Research Group: Chemistry
Number of Students: 1
Length of Study in Years: 4 Years
Full-time Project: yes


Funding is provided via the China Scholarship Council.  

  • Available to Chinese applicants only.
  • Applicant required to start in September 2024.
  • The studentship arrangement will cover overseas tuition fees for the duration of the studentship.

Project Description

Cells in our bodies exist in a delicate equilibrium with their surroundings. These interactions are tightly regulated, and misregulated interactions often result in serious pathological conditions such as progressive fibrosis. Yet the lack of precision tools for probing these interactions limit our understanding of disease mechanisms.  This project aims to address the need for precision tools in cellular mechanics, focusing on developing an innovative nanotechnology-based platform. The PhD student will explore novel methods to interact with cells at a molecular level utilizing state-of-the-art nanofabrication and imaging techniques.

Training & Development: The studentship offers multidisciplinary training in cellular biology, nanotechnology, and mechanical engineering. The candidate will develop skills in advanced experimental techniques and data analysis. Experimentally, the project will involve the use of i) chemical approaches, ii) nanofabrication strategies for device implementation, and iii) microscopy for nanoscale characterizations. As such, the PhD project will provide opportunities for training in a wide range of cell biology and material chemistry techniques and will equip the successful applicants with a highly desirable portfolio of scientific skills and associated transferable skills.

Queen Mary University of London and China Scholarship Council (CSC) have created a scholarship program to enable talented Chinese students to undertake a PhD at Queen Mary. The scholarships build on Queen Mary's existing relationship with China and links with Chinese research institutions and Universities. Queen Mary has the highest number of CSC scholars of all UK universities. Queen Mary is also one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions, member of the elite Russell Group of UK universities, and ranked 9th in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. See also

A PhD studentship is available in the Department of Chemistry of the  School of Physical and Chemical Sciences in the groups of Prof. Matteo Palma and Dr Marc Fernandez-Yague: the supervisory team combines the expertise in the controlled assembly of functional nanostructures down to single-molecule resolution (Prof Palma:  Research Profile ) and precision tools to study cellular mechanotransduction (Dr Fernandez-Yague:  Research Profile )



Applications are invited before the end of January 2024 from outstanding candidates of Chinese nationality holding or expecting to gain a Masters degree in Chemistry, Biophysics, Materials Science, or Engineering with an interest in experimental and materials research.  An enquiring and rigorous approach to research, as well as good team-working and communication skills (both presentation and written English) is essential. Contact Dr Fernandez-Yague ( by email, along with a full CV and the contact details of at least two referees.

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Chemistry programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Deadline for application - 31st of January 2024

Supervisor Contact Details:


  • You will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking) at the time of application to the CSC.


SPCS Academics: Professor Matteo Palma