Arnold Mathijssen

Arnold Mathijssen
Standing Faculty

Assistant Professor

Research Areas: Biophysics, Fluid Mechanics, Active and Living Materials

DRL office 2N10, LRSM lab 411


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania (2021-)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Lab of Manu Prakash, Stanford University (2017-2020)
  • PhD Student, Group of Julia Yeomans FRS, Oxford University (2012-2017)

Honours & Awards (selection):

  • New Investigator Award, Charles E. Kaufman Foundation (2023)
  • Klein Family Social Justice Award, UPenn (2022)
  • Charles Kittel Award, American Physical Society (APS) (2019)
  • International Research Travel Award, American Physical Society (APS) (2019)
  • Cross-Disciplinary Fellow, Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) (2017-2020)
  • Sir Sam Edwards PhD Thesis Prize, UK Institute of Physics (IoP) (2016)
  • 30 under 30, Scientific American (2012)
  • Best overall undergraduate, UCL Department of Physics & Astronomy (2012)
  • Faculty Medal, University College London (2012)

Professional Responsibilities:

  • Chair, Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) at UPenn (January 2024)
  • Chair, GRS/GRC Conference on Complex Active and Adaptive Material Systems (January 2023)
  • Guest Editor, Physics of Fluids (2021)
  • Peer reviewer of ~60 articles for ~20 scientific journals
  • Editor in Chief (2014-2016), and Editor (2012-2016), The New Collection, New College Oxford

Teaching certificate, Stanford University (2019)

DPhil, University of Oxford (2017)

MSci, BSc, University College London (2012)

Research Interests

The Mathijssen lab is interested in exploring the physics of life: we combine experimental and theoretical techniques across the disciplines of physics and biology.

Our main goals are to unravel the physics of pathogens, to design biomedical materials, and understand the collective functionality of living systems (out of equilibrium). To solve these multi-scale problems we use methods from microbiology, fluid mechanics, omics, statistical physics, microscopy and information theory. Recent themes include ultra-fast biology and hydrodynamic communication (Nature 2019), pathogen clearance in the airways (Nature Physics 2020), bacterial contamination dynamics (Nature Communications 2019), and particle delivery technologies (Nature Machine Intelligence, 2022).

This research is both fundamental in nature (e.g. How can an intelligent system arise from the collective dynamics of its basic components?) and directly applied to our society (e.g. What is the probability of SARS-CoV-2 transmission within a food supply chain?). Our enthusiasm is driven by curiosity and the need for solutions that connect science with the challenges of the world we live in. Please get in touch if you would like to join our team!

Our group is part of the Centre for Soft and Living Matter at UPenn, an interdisciplinary center that brings together ~60 faculty from over 10 departments across the Penn campus.                       

Selected Publications

A full and annotated publication list is available on the lab website.

CV (file)