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The URF Research Conference aims to bring together all University Research Fellows as a cohort to discuss their work and provide opportunities for discussion, collaboration and networking.

All speakers at the conference were chosen by a focus group of URFs which were drawn from a cross section of universities and subject areas.

Conference Content

The conference will consist of two plenary sessions followed by breakout sessions. The day will end with a drinks reception and poster exhibition. Dinner will also be provided from 6.30pm for those who wish to join us.

Morning Plenary Session

Chair: Sir Paul Nurse FRS

  • The Exoplanet revolution - Dr Giovanna Tinetti
  • Nanophotonics - Dr Martin Charlton
  • Beta 1 integrin intracellular binding proteins in cell adhesion and motility - Dr Maddy Parsons
  • Ocean circulation, carbon cycling and rapid climate change - Dr Luke Skinner

Afternoon Plenary Session

Chair: Dame Jean Thomas DBE FRS

  • Mirror Symmetry and the classification of Fano Varieties - Dr Tom Coates
  • Organic signatures of life and prebiotic chemistry in our solar system - Dr Zita Martins
  • Characterising T Cell responses induced by malaria infections - Dr Julius Hafalla
  • Price and Prejudice: how reward affects decision making - Dr Kristine Krug

Breakout Sessions

These sessions will be split into two groups, morning and afternoon, each containing four sessions which run in parallel. Each session will have four short presentations from URFs followed by questions and discussion.

Morning Sessions


Chair: Dr Mikel Lujan

  • Multi-scale modelling of biological branching systems - Dr Tiina Roose
  • Quantum computing in the presence of noise- Dr Sean Barrett
  • Spin physics of molecular materials for quantum computing and beyond - Dr John Morton
  • Knotted vortices in laser beams - Dr Mark Dennis


Chair: Dr Oleg Mitrofanov

  • Specto-electrom microscopy of nanostructures - Dr Caterina Ducati
  • Controlled generation and application of nanstructured materials - Dr Nicole Grobert
  • Long-wavelength semiconductor quantum-dot materials and devices - Dr Huiyun Lui
  • Droplet size distributions in spray atomization - Dr Salvador Navarro-Martinez

Developmental Biology/Genetics

Chair: Dr Colin Crump

  • Microbial communication and virulence: lessons from evolutionary theory - Dr Steve Diggle
  • Control of seed dormancy by environmental temperature - Dr Steven Penfield
  • Transcriptional regulatory networks in development - Dr Boris Adryan
  • Environment-sensing and tip-steering in fungal hyphae - Dr Alex Brand


Chair: Dr Holly Bridge

  • The role of cell size in the evolution of the nervous system - Dr Jeremy Niven
  • The "Pain Matrix" reloaded - Dr Giandomenico Iannetti
  • Calcium regulation and frequency selectivity in mammalian cochlear hair cells - Dr Walter Marcotti
  • Stem cell therapy and retinal degeneration - Dr Rachel Pearson

Afternoon Sessions


Chair: Dr Stuart Mangles

  • New physics in precision flavour physics - Dr Malcolm John
  • New realms of surface transport: from ‘atomic’ length and time scales up - Dr Andrew Jardine
  • Exploration of the utility of amyloid fibrils as potential biomaterials - Professor Cait MacPhee
  • Studying planet populations with Einstein's blip - Dr Martin Dominik


Chair: Dr Alison Nordon

  • Nanomaterials for biomolecular and biomedical sciences and nanotechnology - Dr Thanh TK Nguyen
  • Uranium: A tale of Jekyll and Hyde - Dr Steve Liddle
  • Ultraviolet radiation, photoprotection and biomolecules: Linking these with femtochemistry - Dr Vasilios Stavros
  • A new materials platform for structuring liquids into complex 3-D solids - Dr Jonathan Weaver

Biochemistry/Molecular and Cellular Biology

Chair: Dr Kerry Franklin

  • Cell polarity and tissue organisation during development - Dr Isabel Palacios
  • Regulation of protein translation from a structural perspective - Dr Robert Gilbert
  • Circadian regulation of membrane transport in plants - Dr Antony Dodd
  • Functional and structural studies of GLUT transporters - Dr David Drew

Evolutionary Biology/Ecology/Plant Sciences

Chair: Dr Richard Kirby

  • Cooling the planet with crops - Professor Andy Ridgwell
  • Individual variation in a population context - Dr Jane Reid
  • Competition and kin selection:  the evolution of altruism and spite - Dr Andy Gardner
  • Onset of the Cenozoic icehouse - Dr Helen Coxall

How to register: This event is open to Royal Society University Research Fellows and panel members only, for more information or to register for the event please email or contact Helen Jones on 020 7451 2555.