Daniela Kraft is an associate professor in Soft Matter Physics at the Huygens-Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratory at Leiden University, The Netherlands. She obtained her Ph.D. cum laude from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, under supervision of Willem Kegel. Supported by a Rubicon grant, she then joined the Center for Soft Matter Research at New York University, USA, as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2013, she moved to Leiden, where she established her own group. Her research focuses on self-assembly in biological and soft matter systems, ranging from anisotropic colloidal particles to lipid membranes, emulsions, and viruses. Dr. Kraft has been awarded a VENI fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, an ERC starting grant and the paper of the year award 2017 from Biophysical Journal.
The synthesis of novel types of colloidal particles with anisotropic shapes and interactions plays a central role in our research. We continuously develop new approaches and modifications to be able to answer fundamental physics questions.
We aim at guiding and understanding the self-assembly of complex colloidal particles into designer structures and employ them for creating functional materials. We use state-of-the art confocal microscopy methods to image the kinetic assembly pathways and resulting structures in situ.
We study the thermally induced random motion of colloidal particles with various anisotropic shapes by confocal microscopy. Particle tracking routines allow us to obtain full information about the position and orientation of the particles and extract quantitative information about the full diffusion coefficient matrix.
Lipid membranes compartmentalize cells and obtain functionality by attached and inserted proteins. We use a colloidal model system to quantitatively study the interaction between objects that deform lipid membranes to unravel the forces behind protein organizations in cells.
Natural viruses spontaneously assemble from coat proteins and their genome. We aim at identifying the crucial features for the assembly of viruses by developing theoretical models and synthetic proteins in collaboration with Paul van der Schoot (TU Eindhoven) and Renko de Vries and Joris Sprakel (Wageningen University).