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Department of Chemistry


Silvia Vignolini, Hugo Bronstein and Steven Lee, courtesy Department of Chemistry Photography

Congratulations to Silvia Vignolini on her promotion to Professor, and to Hugo Bronstein and Steven Lee on their promotions to Reader.

"These promotions are the result of a competitive process and recognise each person's contribution to research and teaching, and more widely to the University and scientific community," said Head of Department James Keeler. "This is wonderful news, and I'd like to extend congratulations to all three."

Silvia Vignolini

After receiving a PhD in Physics from the University of Florence, Silvia joined the Cavendish Lab in Cambridge as a postdoc with Professor Ulrich Steiner. At the Cavendish, Silvia’s original interest in pure optics was extended to the optical phenomena of biological tissue, in particular to studying optical properties of plants.

However, the more Silvia investigated these optical phenomena, the more she realised that the specific chemistry of materials strongly determines the nanostructured architectures responsible for these brilliant and iridescent colours in plants. So after a brief period at University College London, Silvia joined the Chemistry Department.

The Vignolini group's research now involves the study of structural colour in nature, cellulose nanocrystals self-assembly, hydroxypropyl cellulose self-assembly and light propagation in complex structures. The research is located at the interface of chemistry, physics and biology.

Hugo Bronstein

Hugo was appointed as a joint lecturer between the Chemistry and Physics departments in 2017. His group researches the synthesis of novel conjugated materials for use in organic solar cells, light emitting diodes and transistors. The group is particularly interested in synthesizing materials that help understand and utilise triplet excited states (eg. singlet fission, upconversion, and reverse intersystem crossing) due to their unique and fascinating properties. Hugo says: “The virtually infinite tunability of conjugated polymers means that they can be applied to an immense number of applications.”

Steven Lee

After postdoctoral research in Stanford University, Steven established his independent lab as a Royal Society University Research Fellow in 2013, then became a University Lecturer in  in 2017. Research in TheLeeLab centers on developing new biophysical methods to answer fundamental biological questions, primarily through the use of single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and multidimensional super-resolution imaging.