Professor Sonia Antoranz Contera

Professor Contera recognised by SRUK

Biological physics
Condensed Matter Physics

Professor Sonia Antoranz Contera has been awarded the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) Merit Award 2024. The award recognises her pioneering and exceptional international career in the fields of nanotechnology and biological physics, developing nanoscale tools for biological and biomedical applications. 

Professor Contera works at the interface of physics, biology, and nanotechnology, building the next generation of tools to understand biology at the nanoscale. She earned her PhD in Physics from Osaka University (Japan), where she specialised in the physics of nanostructures and scanning probe microscopy. She joined the University of Oxford in 2003, when she started her research group exploring the physical aspects of biological growth and shape across various systems, including neural networks and tumours. Since 2020, she also holds the position of Associate Head of the Department of Physics, focusing on diversity and inclusion. She has also spearheaded scientific outreach and advocacy initiatives, including her best-selling book Nano Comes to Life (translated into Spanish and Chinese), and acting as an expert adviser in international bodies like UK Research & Innovation, and the World Economic Forum.

Professor Contera has also contributed notably to SRUK/CERU activities, initiatives, and founding objectives. She has been a member of the Evaluation Committee of the SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent Award for many years and has been a mentor to many Spanish researchers in the United Kingdom. As recipient of the Merit Award, Professor Contera is given honorary membership of the Society and she will become an adviser for the SRUK/CERU Scientific Advisory Board.

The president of SRUK/CERU, Ms Irene Echeverría Altuna, comments: ‘Professor Contera is a world-leading Spanish researcher working in the UK. In addition to her interdisciplinary science, she has made outstanding contributions to the broader research culture which are in line with the objectives we try to foster through our Society. SRUK/CERU is proud to recognise her career with the 2024 Merit Award and we are honoured to have her join our Scientific Advisory Board.'

‘We live in complex times and science is more important than ever,’ comments Professor Contera, ‘but it is also increasingly difficult for scientists and the wider society to harness the power of science for the benefit of all. SRUK/CERU creates an important space for collective reflection and action embodying the democratic values that we need; I am delighted to receive the 2024 SRUK/CERU Merit Award and the recognition of my peers.’