Dr Nicholas Farr

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

EPSRC Doctoral Research Fellow

Nicholas Farr

Full contact details

Dr Nicholas Farr
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
North Campus
Broad Lane
S3 7HQ

Having completed undergraduate degrees in both Human Biology (Loughborough University) and Law (BPP Law School) Nicholas joined the Department in 2018 as a PhD researcher under the supervision of Dr Cornelia Rodenburg within the discipline of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. He submitted his thesis on the evaluation of a novel, scanning electron microscope based surface chemical mapping technique for characterising polymeric biomaterials in 2021 and was subsequently awarded an EPSRC Research Fellowship.

Nicholas`s research targets the characterisation and ultimately functionalisation of polymeric biomaterials. Nicholas’s work focuses on applying novel surface analysis techniques alongside building international collaborations to investigate a wide range of materials.

Research interests

Nicholas's current research interests centre on the development of exciting and novel scanning electron microscope based analytical tools together with associated quantification methodologies/protocols. His research aims include enabling a fundamental understanding of the interplay between biomaterials and cells at the nanometre scale to be realised in order to guide future biomaterials research. Development of the electron microscopy characterisation methodology Secondary Electron Hyperspectral Imaging (SEHI) has been a key element of his research and has been utilised in conjunction with other established characterisation techniques at a range of length scales to enable assessments of cellular adhesion, viability and proliferation for a range of biomaterials.

Different biomaterials are known to substantially vary in their cellular response, but no clear mechanism for this response had been identified using existing material characterisation methods. A systematic analysis strategy for SEHI data, based on machine learning approaches, was adapted and extended to identify specific spectral signatures in terms of their biomaterial/cell chemistry or topography respectively. To date Nicholas`s research has been successful in linking together actual cell growth behaviour with SEHI datasets comprising of nanoscale structural, chemical and bulk mechanical information that was captured from blend biomaterials of dissimilar compositions. High quality publications resulting from international and UK based collaborations (including Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology and the University of Oxford) have received much interest with papers selected as a front cover articles. Future plans to build upon this research includes an objective to establish key design rules for future biomaterials and other polymer systems that take into account the role of nano-scale chemical and structural characteristics - a research area so far neglected due to the lack of suitable analytical tools/methodologies but is now feasible as a result of this work, and holds the promise of achieving a significant step forward in capability.


Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers