Prof Sonia Contera

RCUK Academic Fellow in Biological Physics and Nanomedicine

Physics Department, University of Oxford

Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road
United Kingdom
PH: +44 (1865) 272269
Email: [email protected]


Sonia Contera has had an international and multidisciplinary career linking physics with nanoscience and biology. She is currently RCUK Academic Fellow in Biological Physics and Nanomedicine at the Physics Department of the University of Oxford, director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology (Institute of Nanoscience for Medicine) at the Oxford Martin School, co-I at the Centre for Advanced Materials at Harwell Research Centre and Senior Research Fellow at Green Templeton College Oxford.

Sonia graduated in Physics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid , then did graduate studies at Beijing Languages and Culture University and worked as a researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences  liquid-solid interfaces). Then she moved to Japan on a Monbusho scholarship and obtained her PhD from Osaka University Engineering (2000, supervisor Prof H Iwasaki). In 2000 she was awarded an E.U. Fellowship to Japan at the Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research SANKEN, Osaka University (nanostructures in bio/nanoelectronics). She became a Research Assistant Professor in 2002, at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre, Univ. of Aarhus, Denmark before coming to Oxford in 2003.  Sonia had research stays at Kwazulu-Natal Univ. Medical Faculty, Kanazawa Univ. and Tokyo Univ. Centre for BioNano integration and has several multidisciplinary collaborations networks with scientists in the US, Europe, Japan and China. She is fluent in several European languages, in Chinese and in Japanese.

Research interests:

Linking biological physics with bio/medicine using nanoscience.

  • Nanophysics for medicine, (drug-delivery, nanocomposites for tissue engineering, biosensing).
  • Physics in biology at the nanoscale (cell mechanical properties, single molecule nanomechanics, membrane protein biophysics, DNA nanomechanics, molecular motors, membrane biophysics)
  • Biomimetic functional materials
  • Molecular forces in biology, physicochemical interactions at bionano-interfaces, nanostructure/biomolecule/cells interactions
  • High-resolution/high-speed/ atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning probe microscopy in biology, mechanical properties mapping.
  • Force spectroscopy
  • Interfaces: nanostructured surfaces/liquid-solid interfaces, nano-bio interfaces.

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