Welcome to the new InnovaXN PhD students

The ESRF and ILL has welcomed 4 more InnovaXN students to the InnovaXN programme

This last month, we welcomed four new PhD students to the InnovaXN MSCA Cofund programme at the ESRF and ILL, bringing the number of students that have started their projects to fifteen 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.

Applications for the second round of projects will start on the 1st of February 2021.

The new InnovaXN students to integrate the programme. (From left to right: Mattia, Wenke, Serena and Anthony)

InnovaXN is happy to welcome:

Mattia Colalongo did a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in ‘L’Aquila’ (Italy). After 3 years spent there, he studied for 2 years in Milan where he pursued his passion in the field of physical chemistry. He then validated his Master of Science degree in chemistry working on how to model and understand the local structure of strontium titanate exploiting first-principles-based calculations. Mattia joined the InnovaXN project for his scientific and personal growth as well as the possibility to work with the most brilliant synchrotron light source in the world, especially after the recent upgrade. He was also attracted to the fact that InnovaXN is a particular collaboration project between industry and academia. He will be working at the ESRF on the effect of heteroatom doping on lithium battery positive electrode material structure and functionality project, in collaboration with Umicore and Aalto University. He is spending the first 7 months of the programme at Aalto University before joining the ESRF.

I was, initially, scared and worried about this new jump into the unknown, everything to me was new: people, workplace, project and particularly I was far away from home. Surprisingly though, I immediately found the perfect environment to fit in with. I found people here who are kind, highly trained, and soaked in multidisciplinarity, which is fundamental in order to work with serenity as well as receive enough stimuli to grow at a faster pace.” Mattia Colalongo


Wenke Muller studied chemistry for both her bachelor and master degree at the University of Potsdam in Germany before joining InnovaXN. To complement her studies, she completed several internships, two of them taking place at the ILL: the first one was in 2018, she participated in the “International Summer Student Programme on X-ray and Neutron Science” organised by the ESRF and the ILL. Wenke had the opportunity to work on a project regarding the self-assembly of polyelectrolytes, which has fascinated her ever since. Her second internship at the ILL in 2019 strengthened her wish to do a PhD in this field. She was thrilled to hear about the InnovaXN programme, which will allow her to do research close to her studies, as well as possibilities to enhance career development. Wenke is working at the ILL on the investigation of the solution behaviour of dissociative direct dyes in the presence of surfactants at variable pH and salinity, in collaboration with KAO and the University of Paderborn.

I’ve been at ILL before, it was a wonderful experience to return to this place, knowing that from now on I will be working here as a PhD‑student. I always remembered Grenoble, particularly the EPN‑campus, as an extremely inspiring environment full of ideas and of motivated as well as very friendly and welcoming people, who are always ready to help. Even through these tough Covid19 times this does not seem to have changed. I am happy to be here again, working on an amazing project and looking forward to doing so within the next three years.” Wenke Muller


Serena Cozzolino studied chemistry (BSc and MSc) in Naples (Italy) focusing in her master’s thesis on biophysical chemistry and biocalorimetry. After graduating, she continued her thesis’ work as an intern, and after that she did a one-year fellowship at the National Research Council, where she worked on an electrical biosensor for environmental applications. Serena was motivated to enter the programme, because of the high-level facilities, top universities and companies involved. She found the project interesting and well suited for her studies. She is working on the cosmetic perspective of adhesion and interactions with hair biomolecules at the ILL, in collaboration with l’Oreal R&I and KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

It is a strange moment to start, with the lockdown, and a lot of people teleworking. Nevertheless, all the people I’ve met so far are very nice, and I feel that working here will be really great.” Serena Cozzolino


Anthony Harrup did a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical chemical engineering and a master’s degree in chemical engineering (materials science). Both degrees were obtained from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Part of his previous research involved in the prediction and characterisation of the microstructure formed during solidification of aluminium alloys using thermal analysis techniques. His motivation to enter the InnovaXN programme came from his ambition to become a researcher in the field of materials science as well as wanting to expand his horizons and continue his path in a multicultural community. Anthony is working at the ESRF on the relationship between aerospace aluminium alloy composition and damage evolution during thermo-mechanical processing project, in collaboration with Constellium and the University Grenoble Alpes.

“When I first arrived at ESRF I was speechless. I never imagined I would be part of something as big as ESRF. Not only because of the synchrotron, but also for this multicultural scientific community. When I read about the opportunity of being part of the InnovaXN group and to work at the ESRF, I didn’t hesitate and applied for this position. Everybody has been really nice with me and supportive. With this incredible team of supervisors and tutors I know this project will be a complete success.” Anthony Harrup



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