Dr Niamh Fox
Dr Niamh Willis-Fox is a Research Associate in the Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing (FIAM) Group working as part of an Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) tackling Targeted Therapeutic Delivery for hard-to-treat cancers. The IRC comprises clinicians, chemists and engineers working to develop, manufacture and characterise the vehicles/devices required to deliver therapeutics for the treatment of four hard-to-treat cancers: mesothelioma, pancreatic cancer and two types of brain cancer – glioblastoma and ependymoma. As part of a cross-cutting theme of this collaboration Niamh examines the science underpinning the design and manufacture of various drug delivery devices. In particular, her research focuses on quantifying the change in function and structure during manufacture and use of the materials within each device.
Key Research interests:
- Materials and processing for energy technologies
- Interventions for energy generation technologies
- Mechano-chemical processes
- Soft matter processing
- Hydrogel and sol-gel materials
- Optical characterisation
Prior to working as part of the IRC, Niamh joined the IfM in 2016 as a Research Associate on a KACST-Cambridge Research Centre-funded project examining mechano-chemical processes involving long chain polymers during manufacturing relevant flows. This project, based in the exciting field of polymer mechanochemistry, examined how the shear forces within manufacturing processes can be harnessed to activate these emerging materials in industrially relevant systems. Shear forces within manufacturing are often seen as destructive as they degrade long chain materials. The use of mechanochemistry during manufacturing will mirror the ‘destructive to productive’ shift seen within the mechanochemistry literature.
Niamh carried out her PhD research at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, under the supervision of Dr Rachel C. Evans. Her research involved characterising the structural and optical properties of conjugated polymer materials for sensors and solid-state lighting. During this time Niamh obtained a Fulbright Student Award which she undertook in the lab of Prof. Tim Swager at MIT, Boston. This project investigated the self-assembly of conjugated polymer-based host-guest systems and their consequent optical properties. Prior to her PhD, Niamh obtained a B.A. Mod. in Chemistry from Trinity College Dublin, during which time she was appointed as a Scholar of the university. As an undergraduate she was granted a SURE bursary to carry out a project investigating reproducible methods to transfer surface roughness in the lab of Prof. Jacob Israelachvili at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Niamh is always searching for new ways to communicate science to a general audience. She is currently the Sharman Fellow for the IfM with the aim of coordinating and developing the IfM’s outreach to primary and secondary schools.
Images Niamh has transformed from her research have been recognised as part of the Department of Engineering photo competition 2020-21 Microscopy Prize (http://www.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/revealed-winning-entries-department-s-2020-21-zeiss-photography-competition) and also as the IfM Christmas card for 2021 (https://twitter.com/IfMCambridge/status/1471066042449502209).
Niamh has developed a number of short videos based on her research, some of which have been part of the Cambridge Festival:
Brain in a box: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqYqj253UjQ)
Seeing is believing: What can microscopes tell us about drug delivery?: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIphAncgELc)
Imaging medicine in the body: from blood and guts to brains in a box: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE1khFf3Tj4)
As part of the Cambridge Festival Niamh has developed a colouring book based on some of the research ongoing at the IfM. This can be downloaded to colour in on your own device here: https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/uploads/Events/IfM_Colouring_book.pdf
For an up to date list of Niamh’s publications please see Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=LGF_HKwAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao).
- Baumann, N. Willis-Fox, D. Campagna, E. Rognin, P. Marten, R. Daly and R. Göstl
Regiochemical effects for the mechanochemical activation of 9-π-extended anthracene-maleimide Diels-Alder adducts, J. Polym. Sci., 2022, 1-6
- Rognin, N. Willis-Fox, T. Zhao, T. Aljohani and R. Daly,
Laminar Flow-induced Scission Kinetics of Polymers in Dilute Solutions, J. Fluid Mech., 2021, 924, A24.
- Willis-Fox, Q. Zhang and R. Daly
Capturing the Value in Printed Pharmaceutics – A Study of Inkjet Droplets Released from a Polymer Matrix, Int. J. Pharm., 2021, 599, 120436.
- Zhang, N. Willis-Fox, C. Conboy and R. Daly
Direct-writing Microporous Polymer Architectures – Print, Capture and Release, Mater. Horiz., 2021, 8, 179-186.
Cover image: Mater. Horiz., 2021, 8, 1-1.
- Willis-Fox†, E. Rognin, C. Baumann, T. Aljohani, R. Göstl and R. Daly†
Going with the Flow: Tunable Flow-Induced Polymer Mechanochemistry, Adv. Funct. Mater., 2020, 30, 2002372.
Cover image: Adv. Funct. Mater., 2020, 30, 2070180.
- A. Kelly, N. Willis-Fox, J. E. Houston, C. Blayo, G. Divitini, N. Cowison, R. Daly and R. C. Evans
A Single-component Photorheological Fluid with Light-responsive Viscosity, Nanoscale, 2020, 12, 6300-6306.