Arnold Mathijssen

Arnold Mathijssen
Standing Faculty

Assistant Professor

Research Areas: Biophysics, Soft Matter, Fluid and Statistical Mechanics


  • Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania (2021-)
  • Cross-Disciplinary Fellow, Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) (2017-2020)
  • Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Prakash Lab, Stanford University (2016-2020)

Selected Honors & Awards:

  • Charles Kittel Award, American Physical Society (APS) (2019)
  • International Research Travel Award, American Physical Society (APS) (2019)
  • 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, UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (2012)

Professional Responsibilities:

  • Guest Editor, Physics of Fluids, Special Topic on Kitchen Flows (2021)
  • Conference co-chair, GRS/GRC on Complex Active and Adaptive Material Systems (June 2021)
  • Peer reviewer of ~40 articles for ~15 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 (2016)

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 biological physics, soft matter, fluid and statistical mechanics.

Our main goals are to understand the physics of pathogens and the collective functionality of intelligent active matter (out of equilibrium). More generally, we aim to bridge multi-scale biology with the physics of solids, fluids and information. Besides these basic questions, we also work on designing active and adaptive materials, microfluidics for biomedical applications, and developing effective strategies to prevent pathogen dispersal.

Recent themes include ultra-fast biology and hydrodynamic communication (Nature 2019), pathogen clearance in the airways (Nature Physics 2020), tuning upstream swimming of microrobots (Physical Review Applied 2020), and bacterial contamination dynamics (Nature Communications 2019).

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.