Professor Carla Molteni

I am a Professor of Physics at King’s College London and co-Director of the Thomas Young Centre as representative of King’s College London. Before joining King’s, I held research positions at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge and at the Max-Planck-fuer-Festkörperforschung in Stuttgart. I have a Master and PhD degree in Physics from the University of Milan and grew up in Olgiate Comasco, a town close to Como in Italy.

I had a broad high school education, and I was interested in a range of disciplines, including the arts and humanities, but I decided to study Physics at University because, while I can always appreciate a novel or a painting or an archaeological site, it would be much more difficult for a scientific topic without a formal training. I was originally interested in particle Physics and its quest to unlock the secrets of the Universe, but I soon realised that there are very interesting scientific challenges in the (hard, soft, and biological) materials which are around us and in the new one we can design.

My research, focused on unravelling the microscopic working mechanisms of materials and biological systems with computer simulations, is at the interface of Physics with Chemistry, Materials Science and Biology. I have built a diversified research programme, using the same toolbox of computational techniques to investigate a variety of problems, from ice surfaces and nanoparticles, to neuroreceptors and fluorescent sensors, and even green tea and cocoa: so, I do not get bored and continuously learn new things. I enjoy seeing scientific stories emerging from large amounts of simulation data.

I had no clue of what an academic career would entail: I had (and still have) to find a path without a map in a landscape which can be rough. I have worked in different countries and with people with different style of leadership, which is interesting and instructive; I also learn a lot from observing how PhD students develop as scientists. All this has contributed to shape my own professional style, which is ultimately based on my personality, experience, and the surrounding environment.

I consider it important to engage with organisations at the local, national and international level (like the Thomas Young Centre, the MMM hub, the CECAM JCMaxwell node, CCP9, Psi-k, and the Association of Italian Scientists in UK) which build communities and foster collaboration and exchange knowledge in an increasingly competitive research environment.