Dr Sabrina Simoncelli

Dr Sabrina Simoncelli

Lecturer in Nanoscale Technology

London Centre for Nanotechnology

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2020

Research summary

My research interests centre on the application and development of physical and chemical approaches to study biological phenomena at the nano-scale. 

We use a combination of experimental and computational techniques, including microscopy, optics, nano-fabrication, spatial statistics, and image processing. We are particularly interested in super-resolution microscopy techniques, which are optical techniques that allow us to monitor the spatial organisation of single molecules and molecular assemblies, even in complex and crowded environments. We aim to develop the technology further in order to achieve fast, cell-compatible, super-resolution imaging of bio-molecules in living cells. 

Specifically, we coupled these technologies to study biological processes in T-cells, which are white blood cells that scan our body for molecular signals of 'danger' activating an immune response when they recognise one. We want to learn how T-cells come to a decision of activating, which mechanisms are in place to prevent aberrant activation, and whether the cell membrane plays a role in modulating these responses. We are also interested in optimising current nanomaterials, designed to elicit an immune response, by characterising their interaction with T-cells.

Teaching summary

CHEM0007 Physics for Chemistry (lectures)

CHEM0010/CHEM0011 (lab course organiser)

First Year Lab_14: Labs from home 2020/21 (Lab_14 team)

Lecturer on the Optical Biology Wellcome Trust PhD programme at UCL.


Sabrina is a Lecturer in Nanoscale Technology. She recently joined the Department of Chemistry and the London Centre for Nanotechnology as a Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow on 1st January 2020. She obtained her first degree in Chemistry (2010) and her PhD (2014) from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, working in the group of Professor Aramendía. During this time, she developed nano-plasmonic devices to boost temporal and spatial detection limits in optical microscopy. Her PhD thesis was entitled "Exploration of the Interactions between Metallic Nanoparticles and Photochemically Active Molecules", with specific emphasis on photochromic compounds.

During the course of her PhD, Sabrina was awarded an Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) fellowship, which supported her research-visit to the group of Professor Scaiano at the University of Ottawa, Canada (2013). She subsequently spent a year and half as a post-doctoral researcher in the group of Professor Feldmann at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, exploiting the optical excitation of surface plasmon in metallic nano-structures to heat biomolecules at the nanoscale. She carried out a second post-doctoral stay in the group of Professor Maier at Imperial College London, where she developed super-resolution fluorescence microscopy imaging approaches to study plasmon-induced catalysis and charge-transfer reactions. In 2017 Sabrina moved to King's College London as a Human Frontier Science Program fellow working within the group of Professor Owen to implement a DNA-based super-resolution imaging technique to visualise protein interactions in cells of the immune system. She now works in the Department of Chemistry and at the London Centre for Nanotechnology at University College London, where she is establishing her own research group and starting her Royal Society Fellowship, entitled "Lighting the way for Immunity: Fast, Sub-Diffraction, Multi-Colour Imaging of Living T-cells".