Eleni Katifori

Eleni Katifori
Standing Faculty

Associate Professor


Research Areas: Biophysics, Condensed Matter

(215) 746-1205


Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania (2020-)
Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania (2015-2020)
Visiting Professor, Université Paris Diderot (September 2017)
Independent Max Planck Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self Organization(2012-2014)
Fellow at the Center for Physics and Biology, Rockefeller University 2008-2012



Simons Investigators in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems (2018)
NSF Career Award (2016)
Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface (2011)
Member at Large, APS Topical Group on Soft Matter (2018-2021)




From the animal blood circulatory systems to the plant xylem and phloem, distribution networks deliver load and remove waste, while adapting to competing evolutionary pressures that require them to be cheap to build, yet robust and efficient in delivering the flow. 
My group and I seek to uncover the physical principles behind the function and development of these complex biological flow systems. We want to understand how the connectivity and hierarchical nature of the networks lead to new emergent properties that could not have been predicted by detailed knowledge of the performance and behavior of an individual link.


Ph.D Harvard University (2008)
B.S. University of Athens, Greece (2002)


Research Interests

My interests are in the subjects of topology, function and development of biological distribution networks, elasticity and mechanics of thin cells, pattern formation.

Courses Taught

Phys 141/151: Principles II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Phys 580: Biological Physics
Phys 518: Intro to Condensed Matter Physics

Selected Publications
  • T. Gavrilchenko and E. Katifori “Resilience in hierarchical fluid flow networks", Phys Rev E 99, 012321 (2019) 
  • J. Rocks, H. Ronellenfitsch, S. Nagel, A. Liu and E. Katifori, “The limits of multifunctionality in tunable  networks”, PNAS 201806790 (2019) 
  • E. Katifori, “The transport network of a leaf”. Comptes Rendus Physique 19(4) (2018) 
  • L. Papadopoulos, P. Blinder, H. Ronellenfitsch, F. Klimm, E. Katifori, D. Kleinfeld, and D. S. Bassett, “Comparing two classes of biological distribution systems using network analysis”, PLoS Comput Biol 14(9): e1006428 (2018)
  • J. Gräwer, H. Ronellenfitsch, M. G. Mazza and E. Katifori, “A trophallaxis inspired model for distributed transport between randomly interacting agents", arXiv: 1607.06055, Phys Rev E 96, 022111 (2017)

  • H. Aharoni, D. V. Todorova, Octavio Albarran, Lucas Goehring and Randall D. Kamien and E. Katifori, “The Smectic Order of Wrinkles”, Nature Comm 15809 (2017)
  • H. Ronellenfitsch and E. Katifori, “Global optimization, local adaptation and the role of growth in distribution networks”, Phys Rev Lett 117, 138301, (Editor’s Choice, cover of PRL), (2016) 

  • J. Lasser and E. Katifori, “NET: A framework for the vectorization and examination of network data”, Source Code for Biology and Medicine 12(4) (2017) 

  • C. D. Modes, M.O. Magnasco and E. Katifori, “Extracting Hidden Hierarchies in 3D Distribution Networks”, Phys Rev X 6 031009 (2016) 

  • H. Ronellenfitsch, J. Lasser, D. Daly and E. Katifori, “Topological Phenotypes Constitute a New Dimension in the Phenotypic Space of Leaf Venation Networks”, PLOS Comput Biol 11, e100, (2015) 

  • H. Ronellenfitsch, J. Liesch , K. H. Jensen , M. N. Holbrook, A. Schulz A. E. and Katifori, "Scaling of phloem structure and optimality of photoassimilate transport in conifer needles", Proc Royal Soc B 282(1801), 20141863 (2015)
  • E. Couturier, J. Dumais, E. Cerda and E. Katifori, “Folding of an opened spherical shell”, Soft Matter 9, 8359, (2013)
  • R. D. Schroll, E. Katifori, and B. Davidovitch, “Elastic building blocks for confined sheets”, Phys Rev Lett (cover image), 106, 074301 (2011)
  • E. Katifori, G. J. Szöllősi and M. O. Magnasco, “Damage and fluctuations induce loops in optimal transport networks”, Phys Rev Lett (cover image) 104, 048704 (2010)