Bruns Group, Winterschool Innsbruck 2020 (Missing: Michela, Jonas, Samuel, Marie, Jobbe, David). Photo credit: Johannes Haataja
Bruns Group, Winterschool Alagna 2019 (Missing: Jonas)

Principal Investigator

Prof. Nico Bruns

Prof. Nico Bruns

Nico studied Chemistry at the Universities of Freiburg (Germany) and Edinburgh (Scotland). He graduated from the University of Freiburg as Diplom-Chemiker in 2003 and, under the supervision of Prof. Joerg C. Tiller and Prof. Rolf Mülhaupt, undertook a PhD in Macromolecular Chemistry, which he obtained in 2007. In his doctoral work, Nico investigated amphiphilic polymer conetworks as nanostructured support for biocatalysis in non-aqueous media. From 2007 to 2008, he joined the group of Prof. Douglas S. Clark at the University of California, Berkeley, as Postdoctoral Researcher where he explored biotechnologically engineered protein cages as mechano-responsive sensor molecules in polymeric materials. Upon returning to Europe, Nico joined the Department of Chemistry of the University of Basel in Switzerland. From 2008 to 2013, he led an independent junior research group as Habilitand and received the Venia Docendi for Chemistry in 2014. He was awarded a Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship, which enabled him to join the Adolphe Merkle Institute as Associate Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry from 2013 to 2018. In 2018, he was appointed full Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde.

Nico is a founding member and principal investigator of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Bio-Inspired Materials and coordinates the EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network Plant-Inspired Materials and Surfaces (PlaMatSu).

Nico, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the recipient of a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation, a Marie Curie Fellowship, a Holcim Stiftung Wissen Habilitanden Fellowship, a Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship, and the Pfizer Research Award for Young Scientists. He was honored as Emerging Investigator by the journals Chemical Society Reviews and Journal of Materials Chemistry A. Furthermore, his Hemolytics team won the 3rd place of the Yposmed Innovation Award 2019.

Group Leader

Dr. Michela Pellizzoni

Dr. Michela M. Pellizzoni
Ambizione Fellow
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0003-4294-0247

Dr. Michela M. Pellizzoni received her M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology in 2011 from the University of Milan. She earned her PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2015 on the development of hybrid systems based on new chiral aminophosphine and diamine ligands and their applications in asymmetric synthesis.

After 2 year in the group of Prof. Ward in Basel working on the development of new catalytic reactions and protein scaffold engineering for in vivo catalysis with artificial metalloenzymes, in October 2017 she joined Bruns group. In this second post-doc experience she is involved in the enzymatic ATRPase project. Using chemo-genetic optimisation strategies, she is developing tailor-made catalyst for Atom Transfer Radical Polymerisation reactions.

Recently, she received the Ambizione grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation to establish her independent academic career and to develop novel bio-inspired catalysts for controlled radical reactions under mild and physiological conditions.


Dr. Andrea Belluati
Location: University of Strathclyde
ORCID: 0000-0003-2305-7272

Andrea obtained his MSc in Industrial Biotechnology from the University of Turin in 2015, after carrying out his thesis work at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées in Toulouse. He then joined the group of Prof. Palivan at the University of Basel, designing cascade reactions within polymersomes as cell and organelle mimics, being awarded his PhD in 2020. He then spent 6 months as a postdoc at the University of Chemistry and Technology of Prague, in the group of Prof. Šoóš, working on microfluidic reactors.

In 2021, he joined the Bruns group with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to develop the self-encapsulation of bacteria via bioATRP and their integration into eukaryotes as endosymbionts.

Andrea’s project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101032493.

Dr. Sètuhn Jimaja
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0001-6136-0550

Sètuhn obtained his MSc at ETH Zürich where he did his master thesis on the synthesis of polyphenylenes with Suzuki polycondensation. After his MSc, he undertook a 6 months internship at BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany) where he worked on ring-opening polymerisation of cyclic carbonates. He then moved to the UK to undertake his PhD at the University of Warwick in the Dove group and the O’Reilly group as a joint student part of the SUSPOL-EJD Marie-Curie program (co-tutelle with the group of Prof. Taton at the University of Bordeaux) where he was researching into the synthesis of asymmetric organocatalytic nanoreactors.

He joined the Adolphe-Merkle Institute in 2020 as a joint post-doctoral researcher between the Bruns and Weder group where he is investigating the development of polymersome-based cargo carriers to deliver morphogenetic factors as part of the NCCR Bio-inspired Materials.

You can find more information on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Dr. Peng Liu
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0002-1961-8850

Peng graduated from Shanghai Institute of Technology, China, in 2012 with a B.A. in Applied Chemistry. Then he joined a joint project between Shanghai Institute of Technology and Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, China, for his Master thesis on asymmetric addition reactions of chiral α,β-unsaturated-Ntert-butanesulfinyl ketimines. After his Master, in 2016, he moved to University of Fribourg, Switzerland to pursue his Ph.D. under the supervisor of Prof. Dr. Andreas Kilbinger, where he worked on telechelic polymer synthesis by ring opening matethesis polymerization (ROMP). He joined the Adolphe-Merkle Institute in 2020 as a joint post-doctoral researcher between Prof. Dr. Nico Bruns, Prof. Dr. Michael Mayer and Prof. Dr. Christoph Weder groups, where he is investigating block copolymer based aqueous two-phase systems for the generation of electricity as part of the NCCR Bio-Inspired Materials.

You can find more information on Twitter.

Dr. Jonas Pollard

Dr. Jonas Pollard
Innosuisse Fellow
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0002-9331-576X

Jonas obtained his PhD degree in chemistry from the Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg in 2017. Since then he is leading the Hemolytics project targeting the development of a novel, highly-sensitive and inexpensive malaria diagnostic device to assist malaria eradication campaigns.

Dr. Samuel Raccio
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0003-0251-4876

Samuel completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry at the University of Fribourg. After completing his master’s thesis on chlorophylline-catalyzed ATRP in the Bruns Group, he obtained a doctoral position in the group. Working on polymerization based amplification for bio-detection, he studyed biocatalytic precipitation polymerization reactions for malaria diagnostics. He obtained his PhD in 2020 from the University of Fribourg and continues to work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Bruns group, focusing on the malaria diagnostics technology of Hemolytics.

PhD Students

Livia K. Bast
Location: University of Strathclyde and Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0002-0377-4074

Livia obtained her Master’s degree in Chemistry from the TU University Dortmund, Germany, where she worked on polymer-antibiotic conjugates (PACs). Since 2016, she’s been working in Nico Bruns’ research group, doing her PhD within the ITN PlaMatSu (Plant-inspired Materials and Surfaces). Livia is currently working on cuticle-mimetic polymeric materials.

Robert J. Chadwick
Location: University of Strathclyde

Rob was awarded his Masters in Applied Chemistry (MChem) with first class honours from Northumbria University, Newcastle, in July 2018. His masters project was titled ‘Synthesis of Novel Thermoresponsive Hydrogels based on NIPAAm and PVCL’. He joined the Bruns group to work in the biocatalytic ATRP team.

Michèle Clerc
Location: Empa St. Gallen
Co-supervised with Dr. Luciano Boesel and Prof. Stefan Salantinig

Michèle completed her undergraduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Her Master thesis focused on lanthanide complexes for time-resolved luminescence imaging and photodynamic therapy. Currently, Michèle is working on her PhD thesis in collaboration between the groups of Dr. Luciano Boesel at Empa St. Gallen, Switzerland, the Bruns group at the University of Strathclyde and Prof. Stefan Salentinig at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Fribourg. Her project is about light-responsive block copolymers based on Donor-Acceptor Stenhouse Adducts (DASAs) for applications in drug delivery.

Micael Gouveia
Location: University of Strathclyde

Micael studied Biotechnology (BSc) at University of Aveiro, Portugal, and later graduated on Bioengineering and Nanosystems (MSc) from University of Lisbon, Portugal. Micael joined the Bruns Group as a PhD student within the NCCR Bio-Inspired Materials. He works towards triggerable catalytic entities, namely force-responsive block copolymer vesicles featuring reversible membrane permeability.

Chao Guo
Location: University of Strathclyde

Chao got his Master degree from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) and then joined the Bruns Group with protein engineering background. Now, he is working on his PhD project focusing on tuning metalloenzymes for biocatalytic atom transfer radical polymerizations (bioATRP).

Andriy Lubskyy
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute

Andriy works under the supervision of Dr. Michela Pellizzoni on biocatalytic atom transfer radical additions.

Sara Velasquez

Sara Tatiana R. Velasquez
Location: University of Strathclyde

Sara obtained her Bachelors degree in Materials Engineering at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. She followed a masters degree in Materials Science at ETH Zurich where she worked with nacre bioinspired composites. She is currently working on her PhD entitled Bio-inspired Amphiphilic Polymer Conetworks (APCNs) as part of the PIRE: Bioinspired Materials and Systems. Her research focuses on developing cellulose reinforced APCNs that reports local deformation.

Justus P. Wesseler
Location: University of Strathclyde

Justus completed his MChem at the University of Sussex. For his Master’s project he worked on the development of a novel synthesis for N-carboxyanhydrides compatible with flow chemistry. His current PhD project concerns the development of DASA-functionalized block copolymers.

Master Students

Elisabeth Hargreaves

Location: University of Strathclyde

Elisabeth is a Final Year Chemistry Student of the University of Strathclyde. She joined the Bruns group for her Master thesis on bio-inspired amphiphilic polymer conetworks in 2020.

Thomas Manson-Stubbs

Location: University of Strathclyde

Thomas is a Final Year Chemistry Student of the University of Strathclyde. He joined the Bruns group for his Master thesis on novel recycling strategies for fiber-reinforced composites in 2020.

Sam Russell

Location: University of Strathclyde

Sam is a Final Year Chemistry Student of the University of Strathclyde. He joined the Bruns group for his Master thesis on encapsulation and release of fragrances from polymersomes in 2020.

Scientific Collaborators

Serafina Calarco
Location: Adolphe Merkle institute

Sara is member of the Hemolytics team. She further improves our malaria diagnostic assay.

Project Managment and Administration

The group’s general administration is handled by the administrative staff of the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde.


See links to LinkedIn
and Google Scholar


Philip Scholten

Dr. Philip B. V. Scholten
Location: Adolphe Merkle Institute
ORCID: 0000-0001-5187-7003

Philip studied chemistry at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and obtained his master degree in 2015 studying ring-opening polymerisations of macrolactones under the supervision of Prof. Andrew P. Dove. He then undertook a PhD within the Marie Curie EJD-FunMat programme under the supervision of Dr. Christophe Detrembleur (Université de Liège, Belgium) and Prof. Michael Meier (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany). Within this EU-funded program, Philip investigated the synthesis of novel copolymers based on renewable resources and ethylene using reversible deactivation radical polymerisation, as well as novel pathways towards the combination of cellulose and industrial polyethylene using renewable compatibilisers.

Philip then joined the Adolphe Merkle Institute in 2019 as a Post-doctoral Researcher as part of the NCCR Bio-Inspired Materials, investigating polymersome-based nanocarriers for drug delivery. He obtained a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship and works since June 2020 in the group of Prof. Christoph Weder at the Adolphe Merkle Institute.

You can find more information on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Dr. Kyle J. Rodriguez

Dr. Kyle J. Rodriguez


ORCID: 0000-0002-3208-8612

Kyle graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2012 with a B.A. in Chemistry. During his time there he worked as a research intern at Genocea Biosciences. In 2012, he joined Samuel Pazicni and Erik Berda’s research groups as a PhD student at the University of New Hampshire where he investigated the role of secondary sphere interactions in heme proteins using porphyrin‐cored polymer nanoparticles. After obtaining his PhD In 2017, he joined Prof. Nico Bruns’ group at the Adolphe Merkle Institute where his research focused on investigating metalloproteins for their use in controlled radical polymerizations. He continued his career as a Innosuisse Postdoctoral Fellow at EPFL and the start-up Annaida Technologies.

PhD Students

Master Thesis Students

Marie Le Dot

Marie was an Erasmus+ Master student from Toulon University in France. She joined the Bruns group at the University of Strathclyde for her Master thesis on bio-inspired amphiphilic polymer conetworks in 2020.

Jobbe Ramaekers

Jobbe was an Erasmus+ Master student from Hasselt University in Belgium. He joined the Bruns group at the University of Strathclyde for his Master thesis on force-responsive polymersomes in 2019-2020.


Claire Scott
Location: University of Strathclyde

Claire was the Project Manager of the ITN PlaMatSu.

Dr. David Rush
Location: University of Strathclyde

David was Project Assistant of the ITN PlaMatSu.

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