The first InnovaXN PhD students begin their projects

The ESRF and ILL have welcomed their first InnovaXN students.

This September marks the arrival of the first five PhD students for the InnovaXN Cofund programme at the ILL and the ESRF.

They will each be working for 3 years on an innovative project in collaboration with industrial and academic partners, discovering the research techniques used by the ESRF and ILL.

More students are scheduled to arrive in the weeks to come.

The first InnovaXN students to integrate the programme. (From left to right: Louise, Samuel, Fernanda, Anastasia and Michal)

InnovaXN is happy to welcome:

  • Louise Colin, who studied chemistry in a three-year bachelor degree at the University of Strathlcyde, Scotland, followed by a masters degree at Angers LUMOMAT (molecular materials for electronics and photonics) combined with 2 internships, also in Scotland. She applied to the programme because she wanted to do an international PhD after spending most of the last 3 years in Scotland and working in labs in both industry and academia. She is working at the ILL on the project Microscopic dynamic properties of antibody solutions: Connecting to macroscopic phase behaviour and pharmaceutical applicability, in collaboration with Lonza AG and the University of Tubingen.

The team and the project I am working with and on are amazing and it’s a real challenge for me to discover this new field. Everybody is helpful and I am really happy to begin this PhD.” Louise Colin.


  • Samuel Winnall studied physics at the University of Bath for his undergraduate degree and then read biological physics at UCL for his master’s degree. He was motivated by the combination of industry and academia for solving problems at the forefront of neutron science. He is working on the project Interaction of intelligent drug delivery vehicles with model biomembranes at the ILL, in collaboration with AstraZeneca and the University of Manchester.

My first impressions of the ILL were very positive. Being able to work at the leading neutron science research centre in the world, surrounded by mountains, is incredibly special. My research group, Large Scale Structures, is made up of a lovely group of people who are always ready to help each other out and make you feel welcome.” Samuel Winnall.


  • Fernanda Alvarado Galindo, who has completed a masters in polymer science in Berlin and prior to that, studied chemical engineering at  bachelor level in Mexico. The two main aspects that motivated her to apply to the programme were the chance to collaborate with top scientists in one of the leading neutron facilities in the world and the opportunity to work on a project with an industrial application in mind. She is working at the ILL on the project Formation of liposomes – shining light (and neutrons and X-rays) on an industrially-relevant process, in collaboration with Evonik and Techniche Universitat Berlin.

From the two weeks I’ve been at ILL, I am glad to see that scientists are passionate about their topics and work hard to achieve results. It is also a welcoming environment, here you find people from various nationalities who are eager to help. With my background, I am happy to further enrich the international community at ILL.” Fernanda Alvarado Galindo.


  • Anastasia Molokova has studied solid-state physics in Moscow. Her master thesis was about crystal and local structure of europium complex oxides and investigated them using X-ray absorption spectroscopy. She is working on a project at the ESRF, the Elucidating the deactivation pathways of Cu-zeolite-based industrial DeNOx catalysts by means of X-ray absorption spectroscopy complemented by optical spectroscopies and catalytic tests, in collaboration with Umicore and the University of Turin.

I knew that the synchrotron society is very friendly. And all my expectations came true. I feel a lot of support from supervisors, colleagues, and the InnovaXN organisation team. I am really excited about working at a synchrotron. I think all participants would confirm that this is a great opportunity to work at such facilities, to improve our skills, to deepen knowledge in material science, and to communicate with other scientists. Also, I like to understand that the research is useful and important. It gives a lot of inspiration to me. And the programme is full of internships, training, conferences, and other events. So, I think, every day here will be interesting and productive.” Anastasia Molokova.


  • Michal Ronovsky studied surface and plasma science at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University in his hometown Prague. He was motivated to apply to the programme because he was interested in the connection between the academic and private sector. He is working at the ESRF on the project titled Operando stability investigations of low PGM oxygen reduction and oxygen evolution electrocatalysts, in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and the Techniche Universitat Berlin.

“I must acknowledge that all ESRF staff take the covid-19 situation very responsibly. And as for me, I feel I am at the right time at the right place.” Michal Ronovsky.



The programme is co-directed by Dr Jean Susini (Director of Research, ESRF) and Prof Mark Johnson (Science Director, ILL).

For more information, contact the InnovaXN organisers: