Laboratory of Biophysics of Ionic Liquids

Neutron Scattering, Atomic Force Microscopy and Computer Simulations

Group Leader
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Prof Antonio Benedetto
I am a physicist with interest in biophysics and neutron scattering instrumentation. The main focus of my research is the study of the interaction of ionic liquids - a vast family of organic electrolytes possessing intriguing properties - with the building blocks of life, including biomembranes, proteins, and cells by means of neutron scattering, atomic force microscopy, computer simulations and a number of complementary techniques, including cell-biology approaches. Since 2017, supported by some research grants, I established my own research group and carrying out my independent research activity at the University College Dublin (Ireland) and at the University Roma Tre (Italy).
>>>> MORE INFO <<<<
Group Members
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>>>> NEW OPENING <<<< We are looking for a motivated and talented young researcher, with good experience in Atomic Force Microscopy of lipid bilayers, membrane protein channels, biomembranes, cells and/or ECMs, to join our group at UCDublin as Postdoctoral Researcher (3-years) starting in early 2023 (flexible).
>>>> More info <<<< >>>> DEADLINE Sat 17th Dec 2022 <<<<
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Imen Boujmil (January 2022 - )
Imen joined the group in January 2022 as Ph.D. student under Prof Benedetto supervision thanks to a 3-years Ph.D. Scholarship of the Italian Ministry of University & Research. Her project focuses on the effect of paramagnetic ionic liquids on lipid bilayers and cells by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM), neutron scattering and a number of complimentary techniques. In June 2022, she attended the UCD Conway School on Flow-Cytometry. In September 2022, she attended the (i) Oxford School on Neutron Scattering and the (ii) Elettra School on Synchrotron Radiation.
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Olena (Alyona) Yedelkina (September 2022 - )
Alyona joined the group in September 2022 as Ph.D. student under Prof Benedetto supervision thanks to a Ph.D. Scholarship sponsored by the UCD School of Physics. Her project focuses on the effect of ionic liquids on lipid bilayers of increasing complexity and cells by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM), neutron scattering and a number of complimentary techniques.
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>>>> NEW OPENING <<<< We are looking for a motivated and talented student to join our group at UCDublin as Ph.D. student (4-years scholarship) starting in early 2023 (flexible) to work on the effects of ionic liquids on the structure and mechanics of lipid bilayers, biomembranes, cells and ECMs by means of bio-Atomic Force Microscopy, Neutron Scattering and cell biology approaches.
>>>> More info <<<< >>>> DEADLINE Sat 17th Dec 2022 <<<<
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Roisin Mc Monagle (October 2022 - )
Roisin joined the group in October 2022 as Final Year Student (BSc Physics) to carried out her BSc degree thesis project under Prof Benedetto supervision on the effect of ionic liquids on lipid bilayers' morphology and viscoelasticity by means of atomic force microscopy.
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Osahenre (Osas) Samuel (October 2022 - )
Osas joined the group in October 2022 as Final Year Student (BSc Physics) to carried out her BSc degree thesis project under Prof Benedetto supervision on the effect of ionic liquids on amyloid fibrils' morphology and viscoelasticity by means of atomic force microscopy.
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Luke Kilmartin (October 2022 - )
Luke joined the group in October 2022 as Final Year Student (BSc Physics) to carried out his BSc degree thesis project under Prof Benedetto supervision on the effect of ionic liquids on cancer cells' morphology and mechano-elasticity by means of atomic force microscopy and cell biology approaches.
Past Group Members (Ph.D. & postdoc only)
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Dr Visakh Pillai (November 2017 - September 2022)
Visakh was part of the group for 5 years (4 + 1 additional year under a Covid-19 Government payed extension), from November 2017 to September 2022, as Ph.D. student under Prof Benedetto supervision. His PhD project focused on the effect of ionic liquids on protein amyloidogenesis and cells by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM), neutron scattering and a number of complimentary techniques. In June 2022, he successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis and in September 2022 he was awarded the Ph.D. in Physics by the University College Dublin (IE). He is now completing the final requirements for the awarding of the Ph.D. degree by the University Roma Tre (IT) as part of the Double PhD Degree Program between University College Dublin (IE) and University Roma Tre (IT). In October 2022 he took a postdoctoral fellow position within the group of Physical Chemistry & Soft Matter at the Department of Biomolecular Sciences of Wageningen University (NL) where he will use high resolution AFM and AFM-IR approaches to study proteins and amyloids.

During his PhD, Visakh: (i) published 6 scientific papers (5 as first author) including 2 J Phys Chem Lett, 2 Biophys Rev, 1 J Phys Chem B, 1 Phys Chem Chem Phys; (ii) presented many posters at international conferences and gave 2 talks, including one at the European Biophysical Congress EBSA 2021; (iii) was awarded a poster prize at EBSA 2019; (iv) attended 2 schools including the Niels Bohr School on Neutron Scattering; (v) carried out 2 neutron scattering experiments; (vi) served as tutor in the UCD Physics Summer School.
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Dr Pallavi Kumari (May 2017 - June 2021)
Pallavi was part of the group for 4 years, from May 2017 to June 2021, as Ph.D. student under Prof Benedetto supervision. Her project focused on the effect of ionic liquids on lipid bilayers and cells by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM), neutron scattering and a number of complimentary techniques. In June 2021, she was awarded two Ph.D. degrees by University College Dublin (IE) and University Roma Tre (IT), respectively, as part of the Double PhD Degree Program between the two Universities. Then, in January 2022, she took a postdoctoral fellow position at the School of Physics & Astronomy, Leeds University (UK) where she is using advanced AFM approaches coupled with fluorescence to study plant cell walls. In January 2023 she will take a postdoctoral fellow position within the group of Cellular Biophysics at the Institute of X-Ray Physics at the Göttingen University (GE).

During her PhD, Pallavi: (i) published 7 scientific papers (4 as first author) including 2 J Phys Chem Lett, 2 J Phys Chem B, 1 Phys Chem Chem Phys, 1 Biophys Rev; (ii) presented many posters at international conferences and gave 3 talks, including one at the European Biophysical Congress EBSA 2019; (iii) was awarded two poster prizes - one at EBSA 2017 and one at UCD Conway Science Festival 2020 - and a medal for student achievement by UCD Science in 2020; (iv) attended 2 schools, including the Oxford School on Neutron Scattering; (v) carried out 2 neutron scattering experiments; (vi) participated in outreach activities, including Soapbox Science Dublin; (vii) served as lead tutor and lecturer in the UCD Physics Summer School.