Nelsi Zaccheroni graduated in Chemistry (110/110) at the Faculty of Science at the University of Bologna in 1993, where she also obtained her Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences (1997) discussing the thesis “Luminescence in Organized Systems”. After a period of one year as Postdoctoral Research Fellow (TMR Project FMRXCT960076) at the University College of Dublin with Professor D. Fitzmaurice, (August 1997- August 1998), she became researcher (1999) in general and inorganic chemistry (Chim. 03), winning a selection for the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Bologna. She is now associate professor since September 2014 in the Department of Chemistry ‘G. Ciamician’ of the same University.
She has been visiting scientist at the Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia) in the period March-June 2005. In 2015 she has been awarded of a grant in the framework of the mobility project “Nova Domus-Erasmus Mundus – Action 2 for STAFF – 2015” and she has been visiting professor at the University of Montreal (4-30 October 2015).
She was part of the small group of researches that received a grant, according to the law "FAR – sostegno alla ricerca industriale - DM 593 8 August 2000, art. 11", (DD n.224/Ric, 11/2/2003) presenting the project "Fluorescent Labels for Genomics and Proteomics", to establish a spin-off company, Cyanagen s.r.l., that is active in the field of luminescent sensors and labels. She was therefore one of the founder partners of this company and member of the executive board (2003-2009).
She has been a member of the Organization and/or Scientific Committee of more than 10 national and international conferences in the years 2007-2016 in the field of photochemistry and nanomaterials. She also presented her research results in many research lectures in conferences in Italy and worldwide including invited lectures, keynotes and orals.
As far as her teaching duties and experience, she teaches ‘General and Inorganic Chemistry’ for the students of the first year of the Pharmacy (in the present year) and Agriculture degree. She also teaches ‘Photochemistry and Supramolecular Chemistry’ for the third year students of the Chemistry degree (in the present year). She has given in the years several seminars and lessons for PhD students in Italy (at the University of Bologna, Roma, Verona and Trieste), in Spain (University of Vigo), in Northern Ireland (Queen’s University, Belfast) and in Canada (Montreal). She supervised several theses for the degrees in Chemistry and Pharmacy and she has been external examiner in many Italian PhD theses. She has also been external international examiner of a few PhD theses in Europe and Australia.
Her research is mainly focused in the field of luminescent nanomaterials (research sectors: luminescent nanoparticles; silica, metal and magnetic nanoparticles; luminescent chemosensors; supramolecular chemistry; energy and electron transfer processes; nanomedicine).
She is interested since a few years in the synthesis and characterization of luminescent labels and chemosensors, using a supramolecular approach for the analyte recognition and in the fine tuning and control of the signal transduction steps. In this context, she is exploring, in particular, the possibility of obtaining more efficient systems through signal amplification effects that can rise in architectures where the dyes and the receptors are in due proximity. To this goal she has gained a good experience in the synthesis and characterization of chromophore decorated gold and silica nanoparticles and in their photophysical characterization. She is also studying functionalized core shell nanoparticles (including magnetic ones) to target specific analytes or as components in complex structures. In this context she is focusing on biocompatible nanostructures for imaging applications in medicine and theranostic applications.
During the years, she has also established a series of collaborations with different groups in France, Portugal, Holland, Ireland, Australia, Canada and Italy. She has also written some comprehensive reviews and book chapters on the topics above, and she has been co-editor of a volume entitled “Luminescence Applied in Sensor Science”, within the Topics in Current Chemistry series.
She has been co-ordinator, local co-ordinator or participant in financed European and Italian research projects.
She published more than 115 articles in peer-reviewed international journals; 10 book chapters; co-inventor of 5 patents (4 extended PCT and 1 in National phases); 2 of them licensed in the years 2010-2011. She counts over 5400 citations (without self-citations) with a h-index of 45 (h-Index 10 years = 22).