Contact : +54 351 5353855



WILKE, Natalia

Independent Researcher CONICET / Professor UNC
Phone: +54 351 5353855 ext 3438

Research Topic

Mechanical properties of cell membranes

Biomembranes are very active organelles in intermolecular communication and cell motion, and therefore, they present a very specific selective permeability and mechanical properties. In the membrane, several biochemical reactions occur, being the starting point of a variety of signaling cascades. However, as a result of the complexity and temporal variation of the membrane structure and properties, their functioning and regulation is still not completely known.

Our objective is to describe the energetics of membrane deformations in the plane and out of the plane of the membrane, and how this is affected by the membrane composition, electrostatics and interaction with the environment.

Systems under study: For our studies, we use model membranes as well as cell membranes.

Model membranes: Langmuir monolayers, Black Lipid Membranes, vesicles (SUVs, LUVs and GUVs), Supported films.

Cell membranes: yeast spheroplasts

Techniques: Optical Microscopies, optical tweezers, Brewster Angle Microscopy, Langmuir balance, fluorescence spectroscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering, Zeta Potential, Atomic Force Microscopy among others.”


  • Dr. Candelaria I. Camera (advisor: Dr. LM Yudi, co-advisor: Dr. N Wilke, INFIQC, fisicoqímica dto, School of Chemistry, UNC)
  • Dr. Benjamin Caruso (advisor: Dr. Perillo MA, co-advisor: Dr. N Wilke, Faculty of Sciences, UNC)


  • Via, Matias, CONICET-joint Ph.D. program with UNCuyo (Dr. of the people)
  • Genovese, Dario M, CONICET fellow
  • Matias Crosio, FONCyT fellow
  • Bellon, J. Alejandro, CIN fellow


(More publications-CONICET)


Current Grants

  • “Mechanical properties of cell membranes” FONCyT, 2016-2019. A$246.750/year. Head: Dr. Wilke
  • “Rheological and electrostatic properties of artificial biomembranes”, SeCyT UNC, 2014-2016. A$ 19.200. Head: Dr. Wilke

Brief CV

Academic Formation

  • Bachelor in Chemistry, 1998
  • PhD in Chemical Sciences, 2003

Research Background

During my PhD I studied lipid films on solid electrodes using different electrochemical techniques coupled to biophysical methods. During my posdoc in Córdoba, I employed Langmuir monolayers for the determination of the effect of electrical field on membranes and started with the exploration of the regulation of film viscosity.

Through stays at the laboratories of Dr. Carlos Bustamante (University of Berkeley, US, Fulbright fellowship) and Dr. Thomas Fischer (Bayreuth, Germany), I got experience about different optical tweezers set-ups which allowed me to build a home-made optical trap in my lab.

Currently, I focus on studies of the regulation of the mechanical properties of biomembranes, using different approaches and model membranes as well as cell membranes.

Teaching Background

  • 1999-2003: Assistant Professor. School of Chemistry, Department of Physical Chemistry
  • 2003-2014: Assistant Professor. School of Chemistry, Department of Biological Chemistry
  • 2014-currently: Associate Professor. School of Chemistry, Department of Biological Chemistry

Teacher invited in:

  • Bayreuth, Gemany (2010); Tucuman, Argentina (2008); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2010), Mendoza, Argentina (2015)
  • Topic of the undergrad courses taught: General Chemistry; Analytical Chemistry; Biophysics; Methods in Physical Chemistry; Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • Topic of the PhD courses taught: Biophysics of membranes; Methods in Biophysics; Self-assembled nanostructures; Optical Tweezers: uses in Biology

Institutional Management Background

Member of the following committees:

  • Evaluation of the Support Staff (CONICET)
  • Association of Universities “Montevideo Group”, Biophysics area (UNC)
  • Member of the Council of the School of Chemical Science

Background on Science outreach and extension

  • Organization of the annual event “semana de la ciencia”: a week devoted to receiving high school students in our labs, and showing them simple but inspiring experiences 2013-2015
  • Tutor of internship of a highschool student 2016-2017

Publication of the outreach papers:

  • "Optical tweezers and its application in biology" N. Wilke. data sheet on "Digital Logbook", Journal of the Faculty of Chemistry, UNC. Vol. 1, No. 2, year 2013.
  • "Optical tweezers: light as a tool "N. Wilke. data sheet in "Lighting", magazine of the Argentina Association of Lighting. No. 131, year 2016.

Directed Ph.D. Theses

  • 2014-2019: Via Matias. Co-advisor “Interaction of Cell Penetration Peptides with membranes”
  • 2013-2018: Agustín Mangiarotti. “Thermodynamic and diffusional properties of artificial biomembranes””
  • From 2017-2021: Darío M. Genovese. “Rheology and organization of cell membranes of unicellular organisms”