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International Day of Women and Girls in Science – celebrating three researchers at the University of Warwick

Xiaocui Wu

Xiaocui is a postdoctoral researcher in physical chemistry. She’s involved with ground-breaking research into conjugated polymers, which have uses in modern technologies ranging from solar cell material to LEDs and human bioelectronics (pacemakers, blood pressure monitors and implants). There’s even new technology emerging into printed electronics – using printing technologies to produce electronic goods, including electric circuits.

Having studied in China, France, Germany and now the UK, Wu has enhanced her ability to carry out interdisciplinary research, as well as to collaborate and communicate with academics across Europe and the world.

She said: “I’m currently a postdoc at Warwick, where I use spatial resolution scanning techniques to image the structure of polymers at an atomic scale. This helps to understand their performance in devices, from solar cells, bioelectronics and more. These polymers have unique electronic properties – enabling a broad use in different industries, from biomedicine to sustainable energy.

“Based on recent breakthroughs in high resolution imaging of conjugated polymers, my project intends to achieve an unprecedented insight into the composition, structure and electronic properties of these functional macromolecules.

“The next stage will involve me doing a secondment in Paris, where I will be conducting simulations on these polymers, and correlating them with the experimental observations. One day I hope to set up a cross-collaborative laboratory for scientists around Europe.”

Maria Tryfonos

Maria began her PhD at the University of Warwick in 2019 under the supervision of Professor Jan Brosens. Thanks to EUTOPIA funding, she now works collaboratively with colleagues at Warwick and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, where she is based.

Maria’s main aim is to replicate the process of embryo implantation outside of the body, using state of the art techniques. She’s developed three-dimensional models of the endometrium to help shed light on implantation and pregnancy loss.

She said: “My research is focussed on understanding why pregnancies fail, or why people struggle to conceive. I mimic the implantation process outside of the body, using in-vitro techniques. This drives our understanding as to why implantation failures occur, while also having the potential of being used as tools to devise drugs that may increase the likelihood of successful pregnancies.

“I am privileged to work alongside the fertility clinic at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire, which is led by Prof. Siobhan Quenby and Prof. Jan Brosens. In parallel, my research in Brussels is based at Brussels IVF which is the largest fertility centre in Belgium.

“Going forward, my aspirations include finishing my PhD and completing this research project. I’m taking it a step at a time, as it’s a huge project!”

Sanchari Deb

Sanchari is associated with the Power and Control Laboratory of University of Warwick. Before this, she worked with a smart e-fleet group at a national research centre in Finland. Her research interest is e-mobility, especially on charging infrastructure and Vehicle Grid Integration.

She said: “My research interests cover different aspects of power and energy. These include e- mobility, charging infrastructure planning and developing tools to work out the best placement for Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers. An exciting part for me is the application of artificial intelligence and quantum computing to optimise the EV charging grids and even develop autonomous (self-driving) vehicles. I’m also looking into using solar panels to power EVs.

“I started my career completing an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, followed a by Masters in Power Systems. It feels wonderful and rewarding to work in this sector as I am contributing towards making the world greener. In the future, I aim to start my own research group and be a leader in my field.

“Being a female researcher in an area dominated by men may be dauting. But it is time to break the stereotype and make a difference.”

Find out about other EUTOPIA Women in Science: Hear their storiesLink opens in a new window

More about EUTOPIA

• Founded in 2018, EUTOPIA - a European University alliance of 10 like-minded universities - has built powerful connections that will help transform how Europe addresses global challenges through collaborative research, increased mobility of students and staff, and joint innovation.

• The universities of EUTOPIA are: Babeș-Bolyai University; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; Ca'Foscari University of Venice, Italy; CY Cergy Paris Université, France; Technische Universität Dresden, Germany; University of Gothenburg, Sweden; University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; NOVA University Lisbon, Portugal; Pompeu Fabra University-Barcelona, Spain; The University of Warwick, United Kingdom

• The EUTOPIA Science and Innovation Fellowships (EUTOPIA-SIF) will train 76 post-doctoral researchers over four calls, contributing significantly to the next generation of science and innovation leaders in Europe. EUTOPIA-SIF is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska Curie COFUND scheme (Grant agreement 945380) and is co-funded by the founding universities of the EUTOPIA alliance.

• The EUTOPIA PhD Co-tutelle Programme supports high-quality PhD projects in all research areas co-supervised by academics of the EUTOPIA member universities.