6 new InnovaXN PhD students begin their projects

The ESRF and ILL have welcomed new InnovaXN students to the programme.

This October, we welcomed six new PhD students to the InnovaXN MSCA Cofund programme at the ILL and the ESRF, bringing the number of students that have started their projects to eleven for the first round.

They will each be working for three years on an innovative project in collaboration with industrial and academic partners, discovering and using the unique research techniques available at the ESRF and ILL.

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

The new InnovaXN students to integrate the programme. (From left to right: Yi Min, Sofia, Jennifer, Gabrielli, Alexander and Isabella)


InnovaXN is delighted to welcome:

Yi Min Ng who studied Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University where the first two years of the programme were carried out at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed), followed by another year in the UK at the main campus in Newcastle upon Tyne. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, she continued at Newcastle University for her MRes Cancer Masters. Moving then to Glasgow, Yi Min undertook a five-month internship at The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research. Before joining the InnovaXN programme, she spent a year in Hong Kong, working as a research assistant at Hong Kong Baptist University. Yi Min is working on the structural basis and molecular mechanisms of the human tyrosinase enzyme TYRP1 in melanogenesis project, in collaboration with ImmuSmol and Université Grenoble Alpes.

“I am drawn to the InnovaXN programme because the project that I am working on now, here at the ESRF will allow me to explore all the Biomedical Science fields that I am passionate about. Besides, I really like the perspective of a three-month industrial placement because I believe that the placement will provide me with invaluable insights and experience. Apart from that, I will have access to the synchrotron facility (a dream workplace for aspiring structural biologists worldwide) and to work with top scientists of the field! So far, most people that I have met have been very friendly and welcoming. I am feeling very happy and lucky to be here at the ESRF and be surrounded by the breath taking views that Grenoble can offer.” Yi Min Ng


Sofia Erikson studied chemical engineering for her bachelor’s degree, and then specialised in polymer science for her Masters at KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. During her Master’s degree, she also did an exchange in Hangzhou in China but did her Master’s thesis at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. Sofia then decided to stay in Switzerland for a bit longer to do an internship in a startup company. What motivated her to join the programme was the international aspect of the project. She appreciated that students get to visit several countries and that InnovaXN really emphasises the importance of diversity, as well as the collaboration between industry and academia. It seemed to her like an idealopportunity to gain experience from both worlds. Sofia is working on the sustainable molecular design of green polymer/surfactant systems with adaptive microfluidics project in collaboration with Procter & Gamble & Brussels Innovation Centre and Imperial College London.

My first impressions have been very positive. Everyone I’ve met has been very nice and friendly, and I do enjoy the international feeling of ILL. The facilities are quite impressive and I happen to have an amazing view from my office over the mountains. That’s something I enjoy with Grenoble that you can see the mountains from wherever you go in the city! The only sad thing is that we can’t really meet and get to know new people due to the current situation. But hopefully that will change soon!” Sofia Erikson


Jennifer Sutherland studied natural sciences and architecture in Cambridge, followed by a Master’s in space science and engineering at UCL, interspersed with research internships in Lausanne and Potsdam. She decided to enter the programme because she found it was a rare opportunity for a project contributing to bring extraterrestrial human habitation to fruition with specific tangible research goals that provide the technical basis underpinning future designs (and possibly influencing lunar landing sites). Jennifer is working on the investigation on the influence of moon regolith parameter variation, by experimental, theoretical and practical studies to achieve an academic baseline to optimise use cases from generating stable shelter structures to raw material extraction project, in collaboration with OHB and Technische Universitat Braunschweig.

My integration in Grenoble wasn’t the smoothest, but my supervisor has really gone above and beyond to settle me into the thesis and not least the mountains around!” Jennifer Sutherland


Gabrielli Maria E Silva de Almeida who studied microporous materials in Brazil as part of her Master’s in materials science and engineering, is working on understanding the microscopic mechanism for industrially relevant ethene/ethane and propene/propane separations by silver-containing molecular sieves project in collaboration with Cepsa and the Instituto de technologia Quimica. Gabriella was motivated to join the InnovaXN programme because she thinks it will allow her to complete her studies but also learn more about the different techniques. She sees InnovaXN as a complete programme, a great opportunity to learn, to be seen and to change the world through science.

So far, everything has been really nice! I have an amazing team of supervisors, from ILL, academia and industry. Since the very beginning they have shown their support and enthusiasm towards this project. Also, the InnovaXN team has been always present, giving us a lot of attention. The atmosphere here is quite exciting, with people from many different places and backgrounds. In short, I couldn’t be happier.” Gabrielli Almeida


Hugo Alexander Suarez Orduz studied chemistry at Universidad Nacional de Colombia and did his Master’s degree in nanoscience and nanomaterials at Universidad de Zaragoza. The core of his experience has been the application of materials science to solve different industrial issues. The main reason he submitted his application to InnovaXN was that he found that it would allow him to work on solving important challenges related to industrial sustainability using one of the most important synchrotrons around the world. Hugo is working on the catalytic removal of nitrogen monoxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons project in close collaboration with Umicore and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

I am really impressed by how the ESRF is. I never imagined how big a synchrotron could be and how this machine can help us to find answers to a huge number of questions in too different fields. I think this is the knowledge key for opening different mysterious doors. I am pretty excited and this is the beginning of many discoveries.” Alexander Suarez


Isabella Mombrini studied material sciences for her bachelor degree in Turin, which she followed by a Master’s programme on the physics and chemistry of soft materials at the Adolphe Merkle Institute in Friburg (Switzerland). Isabella also worked in industry back in Italy for a year to get real-world experience and to help her see where to go in the future. Her masters thesis was about lithium ion battery materials, so she is looking forward to continue working in this field. Isabella is working on advanced diffraction methods for characterising Li-ion battery materials, in close collaboration with UCL and Johnson Mattey.

As expected the ESRF is an amazing facility. I am looking forward to working here on the project. Also, everyone in my university (UCL) is nice and helpful. The InnovaXN programme was exactly the exciting project and challenge I was looking for: still connected with industry, the project gives the possibility to connect with many people and facilities, beyond those working at the synchrotron.” Isabella Mombrini



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 Business and Industry team:

Email: innovaxn-industry@innovaxn.eu