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Francesca Palombo

Associate Professor of Biomedical Spectroscopy

University of Exeter

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Never say never. Never limit yourself. There’s no limitation to what you can do.

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am an academic at the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter, UK. I am interested in the physical properties that underlie the structure, dynamics and interactions of biological materials and tissues, and how these are modified in disease. Most of my research is based around the development and application of vibrational spectroscopy techniques, namely Brillouin, Raman and infrared spectroscopy. I supervise a team of postdoc and PhD students which is part of the larger Biophysics group at Exeter. I teach Physical Chemistry in the second year of the Master Natural Sciences programme and I am a lead demonstrator in the second year Physics practicals of the Physics programme. Alongside being a researcher and teacher, I run tutorials for first year Physics and Natural Sciences students and supervise final year Master research projects. I enjoy mentoring staff and students.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

I was fortunate to have exceptional role models at high schools and university who made me choose this scientific field. There was not a particular moment but during my PhD I started realising how much I enjoyed doing research and since then I have never stopped. My family has always supported me throughout my studies; my parents are teachers and they have been inspirational for my career in higher education.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

As everybody, I did face roadblocks along the way. Those have made me stronger and therefore I don't see them as negative.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

I wish I could tell my younger self: if you want something, just ask. Sometimes it is the lack of confidence and openness that undermines our best chances.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I love the discoveries that every day spent doing research can bring. It is also stimulating to work with students and other researchers. As soon as I wake up, I have a quick glance at my calendar and motivate myself for the day ahead.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Do what you love and, if that is pursuing STEM, so put there all your efforts and make it work for you.

INSPIRATION

I have a strong faith and that is my truly inspiration. I have also encountered many role models, the first one being my science teacher in high school. She is brilliant and I owe her the foundational background of my career in STEM.