María F. García-Parajo obtained her PhD in Physical Electronics in 1993 at Imperial College, London, UK, working on the fabrication and photoluminescence spectroscopy of quantum structures based on GaAs/AlGaAs. After acquiring extensive expertise in scanning probe microscopy (STM, NSOM, AFM) at the L2M-CNRS, Bagneux, France (1993-1995) and University of Barcelona, Spain (1995-1996) she moved in 1996 to the Applied Optics group of the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Her main research topics have been single molecule detection and spectroscopy using near- and far-field optical techniques with focus in photophysics of organic and autofluorescent proteins, molecular photonics and biophysics. Since 2005 she is ICREA Research Professor, first hosted at the IBEC - Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and since July 2011 at ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences, leading the Single Molecule Biophotonics group.
Our research focuses on the development of advanced optical techniques to the study of biological processes at the single molecular level on living cells. We focus on the development and application of different forms of super-resolution microscopy (STED, STORM, NSOM) as well as photonic antennas to reach spatial resolutions around 10nm on intact cells. Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy in ultraconfined volumes, and multi-color single particle tracking are exploited to gain access to dynamic processes down to the microsecond time resolution. Using these combined approaches, we aim at understanding how spatiotemporal compartmentalization of biomolecules inside cells regulates and control cell function. This fundamental question has important implications for health and disease, touching the fields of cell biology and immunology.