IFIMAC Welcomes Three New Members Through “Junior Leader (incoming)” Program From “La Caixa” Foundation

Dr. Salvatore Assenza, Dr. Diego Martín Cano and Dr. Carlos Sánchez Muñoz have been awarded a “Junior Leader” grant to continue their research career at IFIMAC.

The Postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowships programme (Incoming) is aimed at hiring excellent researchers, of any nationality, who wish to continue their research career in Spain or Portugal in the STEM area (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The objectives of this programme are to foster high-quality, innovative research in Spain and Portugal and to support the best scientific talent by providing them with an attractive, competitive environment in which to conduct excellent research, trhough a three-year employment contract to conduct a research project at accredited centres with the Severo Ochoa or María de Maeztu excellence award, Institutos de Investigación Sanitaria Carlos IIII and units evaluated as excellent by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia of Portugal.

Short bio Salvartore Assenza:

Salvatore Assenza obtained his BSc and MSc in Physics at the University of Catania and attended in parallel Scuola Superiore di Catania, an excellence center fostering an early start of the research activity, where he investigated Complex Networks under the guidance of Prof. Latora and Prof. Gómez. Then, he pursued a PhD in Physics supervised by Prof. De Los Rios and Dr. Barducci at EPF Lausanne, where he studied biomolecular systems under the lens of polymer physics. Later, he was a Postdoc at ETH Zürich in the group led by Prof. Mezzenga. As a theorist, he worked side by side with experimentalists to study lipid-based mesophases, amyloid-based liquid crystals and cellulose nanofibrils, reinforcing his idea that theory and experiments have a lot to earn, and learn, from a continuous interchange of views. More recently, he was a Postdoc in the group led by Prof. Pérez at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, focusing on the coarse grain of biomolecular systems.

Supported by a Junior Leader Fellowship from la Caixa Foundation, he is joining IFIMAC to study the mechanical properties of DNA from a theoretical perspective. By means of multiscale molecular simulations, he will study the intimate relationship between DNA sequence and its conformations, providing a molecular base to critically analyze their role in various biocellular processes and for the quantitative assessment of single-molecule experiments.

Short bio Diego Martín Cano:

Diego Martín Cano pursues his studies in Physics (2002-2007) and a M.Sc. in Nanotechnology (2008) at UAM. With a FPU grant, he conducts his PhD under the supervision of Profs Francisco José Garcia-Vidal and Esteban Moreno Soriano, leading to his dissertation on classical applications & quantum phenomena in plasmonic waveguides (2013). Next, he earns a Max Planck postdoctoral grant to research on quantum aspects of nano-optics within the center QSTAR (Florence, Italy), in collaboration with Prof. Mario Agio. In 2014-2020, he becomes head of theory research group within the experimental division of Prof. Vahid Sandoghdar, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (Erlangen, Germany), where he develops new theoretical research lines and support for experiments with organic molecules and optical nanocavities.

Since Sept. 2020 he joins IFIMAC to start his own project exploring molecular optomechanical effects supported by La Caixa Junior Leader program.

His research interests lie in the study of strong interactions between light and organic molecules in complex solid-state nanosystems, which involves a high number of vibrational, electronic and photonic degrees of freedom. This difficulty has generally limited all molecular spectroscopy research fields to understand most common emission phenomena and standard unstructured materials. By developing theoretical models and using a combination of nano-optics and quantum optical numerical tools, he aims in researching hidden mechanisms shaking light withmolecules in complex and nanostructured environments.

Short bio Carlos Sánchez Muñoz:

Carlos obtained his PhD in 2016 at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, working on different topics in quantum optics. Next, he moved to Japan and joined the group of Prof. Franco Nori in RIKEN, where he continued is study of the generation of quantum states in quantum-optical systems. In 2018, he moved to the University of Oxford with a Marie-Slodowska Curie Fellowship, where he worked at Prof. Dieter Jaksch’s group on metrological properties of many-body quantum optical systems.

He joined IFIMAC in 2020 with a La Caixa Junior Leader Fellowship. His project aims to discover novel sources of light with strong quantum correlations, and study how they can be used for practical purposes such as imaging or metrology. Processes that exploit non-linear quantum processes, such as the simultaneous absorption of several photons by a single molecule, can benefit from strong photonics correlations and be used in important metrological applications, such as the imaging of living tissues with low-intensity light in biological sciences.

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