Dr Alice Pyne

MSci, MRes, EngD

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Senior Lecturer in Soft Matter & Polymers

Dr Alice Pyne
Profile picture of Dr Alice Pyne
+44 114 222 5969

Full contact details

Dr Alice Pyne
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

Alice is a Senior Lecturer in Polymers & Soft Matter and head of the Henry Royce Nanocharacterisation laboratory. Her research focusses on developing high-resolution Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) imaging methods for structural characterisation of biomolecules in solution. She has pioneered single-molecule imaging studies of the DNA double helix, including unique time-resolved imaging at the atomic scale, showing DNA molecules twisting and “dancing” in ways that had not previously been imaged. Alice has a keen interest in bioimage analysis, and has developed an automated image analysis pipeline, TopoStats, that combines AFM image correction, molecule identification, and tracing into a single tool.

Prior to moving to Sheffield, Alice completed an EngD in Biophysics at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, UCL and was awarded two postdoctoral fellowships during which she established a track record in high resolution biomolecular AFM.

  • EngD Biophysics, University College London & the National Physical Laboratory, High Resolution Atomic Force Microscopy of Functional Biological Molecules (2015)
  • MRes (Hons) Distinction, UCL, Molecular Modelling and Materials Science (2011)
  • MSci (Hons) Physics, University of Bristol (2009)
Research interests

Alice’s current projects combine high-resolution AFM and cutting-edge bioimage analysis to determine how structural and conformational heterogeneity in individual DNA molecules affects fundamental biological processes.


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Ravi J, Pfeil MP & Pyne AL (2019) Probing antimicrobial mechanisms for effective strategies to overcome resistance. EUROPEAN BIOPHYSICS JOURNAL WITH BIOPHYSICS LETTERS, Vol. 48 (pp S223-S223) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Pyne ALB, Hoogenboom BW, Vilar R & Maxwell A (2017) Visualisation of DNA conformational changes in situ at nanometre resolution. EUROPEAN BIOPHYSICS JOURNAL WITH BIOPHYSICS LETTERS, Vol. 46 (pp S369-S369) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Yon AR, Pyne ALB, Kwakwa K, Lowe AR, Williams WA & Hoogenboom BW (2017) A combinatorial single-molecule study of ligand-gated ion channels and monoclonal antibodies. EUROPEAN BIOPHYSICS JOURNAL WITH BIOPHYSICS LETTERS, Vol. 46 (pp S371-S371) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Pyne ALB, Pfeil M-P, Bennett I, Ravi J, Lamarre B, Hoogenboom BW & Ryadnov MG (2017) Investigating the mechanism of action of a novel antimicrobial peptide on live E. coli cells. EUROPEAN BIOPHYSICS JOURNAL WITH BIOPHYSICS LETTERS, Vol. 46 (pp S389-S389) RIS download Bibtex download

Software / Code




Research group

PhD Students:

  • Daniel Rollins (AFM analysis of supercoiled DNA interactions)
  • Mingxue Du (TopoStats: Automating AFM analysis of DNA & protein interactions)
  • Libby Holmes (Complex DNA structures in cancer)
  • Max Gamil (Deep probabilistic models for analysing complex DNA structures)

PhD Students (UCL):

Kavit Main (Single molecule insights into DNA-Topoiomerase interactions) 

Teaching activities
  • BIE103 (Introduction to Bioengineering)
  • MAT360 (Research skills)
  • MAT408 (Bioimaging)
  • MEC438 (Preparation for Practice)
Professional activities and memberships

Professional Activities:

  • British Biophysical Society committee member
  • Royal Microscopical Society Data Analysis in Imaging committee member
  • Wiley Biopolymers editorial board member
  • Co-director of the INSIGNEO biomedical imaging pillar
  • Head of the Henry Royce Nanocharacterisation Laboratory
  • Co-organiser of the international Royal Microscopical Society  ‘SPM and AFM’ conference series
  • Co-organiser of the first international Royal Microscopical Society ‘AFM data analysis’ conference


  • Young Investigator Award - DNA, UK Nucleic Acids Forum 2019
  • Journal of Molecular Recognition Award 2014
  • National Physical Laboratory’s Raleigh Prize 2013