Photo of Prof Francesca Palombo

Prof Francesca Palombo

Associate Professor in Biomedical Spectroscopy


Telephone: 01392 726612

Extension: (Streatham) 6612

My research is focused on the development of Brillouin, Raman and FTIR spectroscopy methods for applications to the biomedical sciences. I am particularly interested in the physical and chemical aspects of biological systems at a molecular level, as well as their implications in disease. Previously, I developed the application of attenuated total reflection (ATR) FTIR imaging to atherosclerosis in small animal models. I applied both ultrafast time-resolved optical Kerr effect (OKE) and THz-Raman scattering to elucidate the dynamics, structure and interactions in ionic solutions. My PhD was focused on investigating the hydrogen-bonding properties of octanols from liquid to supercritical fluid conditions using FTIR (also NIR), Raman and depolarised Rayleigh scattering.

Visit my team website:

PhD position open:


Current team members:

  • Dr Noemi Correa (PDRA): Novel Brillouin-Raman microscopy applied to oesophageal cancer
  • Michelle Bailey (PhD): Chemo-mechanics of epithelial tissue in dysplastic Barrett's oesophagus
  • Fahad Aldosari (PhD): Noble metal nanoparticles for SERS applications in biomedicine
  • Rikke Morrish (PhD): Chemical imaging of live immune cells in microfluidic devices
  • Pascaline Bouzy (PhD): Novel IR spectroscopic imaging of breast microcalcifications
  • Doriana Calabrese (PhD): FTIR imaging of breast cancer microcalcifications
  • Jenni Haskell (PhD): Deep Raman spectroscopy applied to breast cancer
  • Jacob Binsley (PhD): Magnetoelastic metamaterials for lab-on-a-chip technology

Alumni: PhD Physics - Michael Hermes 2019, Ryan Edginton and Louise Clark 2018; visiting postgraduates - Martina Alunni Cardinali 2019, Doriana Calabrese 2018, Beatrice Gironi 2017, Sara Mattana 2016; visiting undergraduate - Antoine David (MEng) 2014; summer internship - Ebony Cave and Tom Carter (MSci) 2018, Laurence Mitchell and Thomas Ledgerwood (MSci) 2017, Imogen Swift (MSci) 2016, Sarah Stoyle (MPhys) 2016

Taught modules: Physical Chemistry (NSC2002) and Practical Physics II (PHY2026)

Education and Employment

  • 2018-date   Associate Professor in Biomedical Spectroscopy, University of Exeter
  • 2017-2018  Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Spectroscopy, University of Exeter
  • 2013-2017  Lecturer in Biomedical Spectroscopy, University of Exeter
  • 2012-2013  Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of East Anglia
  • 2009-2011  Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Perugia, Italy
  • 2007-2009  Postdoctoral Research Associate, Imperial College London
  • 2003-2007  PhD Physical Chemistry, University of Perugia, Italy
  • 1998-2003  MSc (110/110 cum laude) Chemistry, University of Perugia

Funded Research Projects

  • EPSRC Programme Grant "RaNT" (PI: Nick Stone) EP/R020965/1, 2018-22, 5.75M£
  • (PI) CRUK/EPSRC Multidisciplinary Award NS/A000063/1, 2017-21, 499,876£
  • (Vice-Chair) COST Action "BioBrillouin" CA16124, 2017-21, TBD (actual 412,102€)
  • (PI) EPSRC IAA Impact and Knowledge Exchange Award 2018, 33,995£
  • (PI) EPSRC DTP Studentship for 3.5 years 2016-2020, 70,000£
  • (PI) EPSRC First Grant EP/M028739/1, 2015-2017, 114,916£
  • Wellcome Trust ISSF2 Seed-Corn Fund Round 5, 2018, 9,986£
  • Wellcome Trust ISSF2 Seed-Corn Fund Round 3, 2016-17, 10,950£
  • (PI) Wellcome Trust ISSF2 Seed-Corn Fund Round 2, 2016, 11,480£
  • (PI) Small grant for scientific activities, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016, 2,000£
  • (PI) International travel grant, Royal Academy of Engineering, 2007, 700£
  • (PI) International travel grant, European Molecular Liquid Group, 2007, 660€
  • PhD studentship, Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, 2003-6, 39,000€

Facilities Usage

  • UK National Ion Beam Centre University of Surrey, 2017, estimated 9,744£
  • (PI) LASERLAB EUROPE, LENS002120, 2015, 19 shifts of 9 hours

Invited Presentations

  • European Microscopy Congress EMC2020, Copenhagen (Denmark), 23-28 Aug 2020
  • 2nd International Conference on Biomedical Photonics, Palavas-les-Flots (France), 16-18 Apr 2020
  • BioBrillouin WG4 meeting, Camogli (Italy), 24 Mar 2020
  • IRDG Christmas Meeting, UCL, London, 19 Dec 2019
  • Photon Science Institute, The University of Manchester, 27 Nov 2019
  • 224th Infrared and Raman Discussion Group (IRDG) meeting, Lancaster, 19 Sep 2019
  • Keynote: IONS Exeter conference, 9-12 Jul 2019
  • (x2) 2nd COST Action BioBrillouin conference and Open Day for Clinicians, Perugia (Italy), 12-14 Sep 2018
  • Frontiers in BioImaging meeting, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 27-28 Jun 2018
  • Advances in Biophotonics conference, UCL London, 18 Apr 2018
  • EPSRC CDT in Diamond Science and Technology seminar, University of Warwick, 12 Feb 2018
  • 1st COST Action BioBrillouin training school, EMBL Heidelberg (Germany), 17-19 Jan 2018
  • 8th IDMRCS conference, Wisla (Poland), 23-28 Jul 2017
  • School of Physics, Cardiff University, 8 Feb 2017
  • Nano-spectroscopy and Bio-Imaging conference, Photonex, Coventry, 12-13 Oct 2016
  • MiFoBio school, Seignosse (France), 30 Sep - 7 Oct 2016
  • (x2) SciX conference, Minneapolis (USA), 18-23 Sep 2016 
  • Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, 14 Jul 2016
  • Workshop on Future Biophotonics Technologies at the EPS/Life Sciences Interface, Exeter, 15-17 Mar 2016
  • Winter School on Biotechnology, University of Perugia (Italy), 18-22 Jan 2016
  • MERI, Sheffield Hallam University, 18 Jan 2016
  • School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, 5 Jun 2015
  • SciX conference, Reno (USA), 28 Sep - 3 Oct 2014
  • Health and Medical Research Showcase, University of Exeter, 27 Jun 2014
  • Workshop on Solvation in Liquids, University of Lille (France), 28 Mar 2011
  • (x2) University of Catania (Italy), 21-22 Feb 2008
  • Department of Chemistry, University of Perugia (Italy), 28 Jan 2008

Contributions to the Community

  • External examiner for the award of PhD degrees at Imperial College London, King's College London, Polytechnic University of Valencia, and University of Perugia
  • Guest editor of Biomedical Optics Express feature issue "Brillouin Light Scattering Microspectroscopy for Biomedical Research and Applications", 1st May 2019
  • Member of Technical Programme Committee of ICO-25-OWLS-16 General Congress, Dresden 2020.
  • Member of MRC Neurosciences & Mental Health Board
  • Member of EPSRC Physical Sciences Prioritisation Panel
  • Member of EPSRC Peer Review College
  • Recognised for significant contribution to EPSRC Peer Review in 2016/17
  • Member of ERC, FET Open and COST Expert Panels
  • Reviewer for funding bodies including all the RCUK, CRUK, ERC, FET Open, and COST
  • Reviewer for international scientific journals including Nature Communications, Advanced Materials, Analytical Methods, Applied Spectroscopy, Biomacromolecules, Optics Express, and Scientific Reports

Conference Organisation

  • 3rd BioBrillouin Conference, Porto, 25-27/09/2019
  • 2nd BioBrillouin Conference, Perugia, 12-14/09/2018
  • 13th Martin & Willis Student Prize Meeting and IRDG Meeting 210, University of Exeter, 26-27/08/2015
  • CLIRSPEC Network Conference, University of Exeter, 20-22/04/2015


  • Talk at Cancer Research UK Live event, Exeter, 10/10/2018
  • International Day of Light - EUOPS, Exeter Princesshay, 16/05/2018
  • Lead organiser of RSC ChemNet event, University of Exeter, 14/12/2015
  • Spectroscopy Zone in “I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here”, 2014
  • Exhibitor at "Chemical photography: seeing in a different light", Royal Academy Exhibition Celebrating 350 years of the Royal Society, London Southbank Centre, 25/06-04/07/2010


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Vice-Chair and UK Management Committee member of COST BioBrillouin Action
  • Host Leadership Team member for MRC Skills Development Fellowships 
  • ECN Rep and Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • Member of the American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • Member of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (SAS)
  • Member of the SAS Publications Committee
  • Member of the UK SAS Committee


  • Best PhD supervisor, CEMPS, Exeter, 2019
  • Above and Beyond Silver Award for research, CEMPS, Exeter, 2017-18
  • Inspirational leader and role model for researchers, Exeter, 2018
  • Best undergraduate supervisor, CEMPS, Exeter, 2017
  • Best poster at the EMLG/JMLG conference, Sheffield, 03-07/09/2004