Postdoc in the Prakash Lab and HFSP fellow.

Honors & Awards

  • International Research Travel Award, American Physical Society (APS) (2019)
  • Cross-disciplinary Fellowship, Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) (2017-)
  • Sam Edwards PhD Thesis Prize, UK Institute of Physics (IoP) (2016)
  • Best overall undergraduate, UCL Department of Physics & Astronomy (2012)
  • Faculty Medal, UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (2012)

Professional Education

  • Postdoc, Manu Prakash lab - Stanford University, Bioengineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford (2016)
  • DPhil thesis, Julia Yeomans FRS - Rudolf Peierls Center for Theoretical Physics, Biophysics
  • Master of Science, University College London (2012)
  • Master thesis, Robert Thorne - MSTW PDF Collaboration, Particle Physics

Stanford Advisors

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Membrane penetration and trapping of an active particle. The Journal of chemical physics Daddi-Moussa-Ider, A., Goh, S., Liebchen, B., Hoell, C., Mathijssen, A. J., Guzman-Lastra, F., Scholz, C., Menzel, A. M., Lowen, H. 2019; 150 (6): 064906


    The interaction between nano- or micro-sized particles and cell membranes is of crucial importance in many biological and biomedical applications such as drug and gene delivery to cells and tissues. During their cellular uptake, the particles can pass through cell membranes via passive endocytosis or by active penetration to reach a target cellular compartment or organelle. In this manuscript, we develop a simple model to describe the interaction of a self-driven spherical particle (moving through an effective constant active force) with a minimal membrane system, allowing for both penetration and trapping. We numerically calculate the state diagram of this system, the membrane shape, and its dynamics. In this context, we show that the active particle may either get trapped near the membrane or penetrate through it, where the membrane can either be permanently destroyed or recover its initial shape by self-healing. Additionally, we systematically derive a continuum description allowing us to accurately predict most of our results analytically. This analytical theory helps in identifying the generic aspects of our model, suggesting that most of its ingredients should apply to a broad range of membranes, from simple model systems composed of magnetic microparticles to lipid bilayers. Our results might be useful to predict the mechanical properties of synthetic minimal membranes.

    View details for PubMedID 30770004

  • Nutrient Transport Driven by Microbial Active Carpets PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS Mathijssen, A. M., Guzman-Lastra, F., Kaiser, A., Lowen, H. 2018; 121 (24)
  • Oscillatory surface rheotaxis of swimming E. coli bacteria Mathijssen, A. J., Figueroa-Morales, N., Junot, G., Clement, E., Lindner, A., Zoettl, A. Arxiv preprint 1803.01743. 2018


    We demonstrate experimentally and theoretically the existence of oscillatory rheotaxis by E. coli bacteria swimming at surfaces under flow. Three transitions are identified with increasing shear rate: From circular to straight upstream motion, the emergence of oscillations, and finally coexistence of rheotaxis along the positive and negative vorticity directions. We develop a model to explain these transitions and predict the corresponding critical shear rates. Our results shed new light on bacterial transport in the presence of confining walls and strategies for contamination prevention.

  • Collective intercellular communication through ultra-fast hydrodynamic trigger waves Mathijssen, A. J., Culver, J., Bhamla, S., Prakash, M. BioRxiv 2018/09/26/428573. 2018


    The biophysical relationships between sensors and actuators have been fundamental to the development of complex life forms; abundant flows are generated and persist in aquatic environments by swimming organisms, while responding promptly to external stimuli is key to survival. Here, akin to a chain reaction, we present the discovery of hydrodynamic trigger waves in cellular communities of the protist Spirostomum ambiguum, propagating hundreds of times faster than the swimming speed. Coiling its cytoskeleton, Spirostomum can contract its long body by 50% within milliseconds, with accelerations reaching 14g-forces. Surprisingly, a single cellular contraction (transmitter) is shown to generate long-ranged vortex flows at intermediate Reynolds numbers, which can trigger neighbouring cells, in turn. To measure the sensitivity to hydrodynamic signals (receiver), we further present a high-throughput suction-flow device to probe mechanosensitive ion channel gating by back-calculating the microscopic forces on the cell mem- brane. These ultra-fast hydrodynamic trigger waves are analysed and modelled quantitatively in a universal framework of antenna and percolation theory. A phase transition is revealed, requiring a critical colony density to sustain collective communication. Our results suggest that this signalling could help organise cohabiting communities over large distances, influencing long-term behaviour through gene expression, comparable to quorum sensing. More immediately, as contractions release toxins, synchronised discharges could also facilitate the repulsion of large predators, or conversely immobilise large prey. We postulate that beyond protists numerous other freshwater and marine organisms could coordinate with variations of hydrodynamic trigger waves.

  • State diagram of a three-sphere microswimmer in a channel. Journal of physics. Condensed matter : an Institute of Physics journal Daddi-Moussa-Ider, A., Lisicki, M., Mathijssen, A. J., Hoell, C., Goh, S., Blawzdziewicz, J., Menzel, A. M., Löwen, H. 2018


    Geometric confinements are frequently encountered in soft matter systems and in particular significantly alter the dynamics of swimming microorganisms in viscous media. Surface-related effects on the motility of microswimmers can lead to important consequences in a large number of biological systems, such as biofilm formation, bacterial adhesion and microbial activity. On the basis of low-Reynolds-number hydrodynamics, we explore the state diagram of a three-sphere microswimmer under channel confinement in a slit geometry and fully characterize the swimming behavior and trajectories for neutral swimmers, puller- and pusher-type swimmers. While pushers always end up trapped at the channel walls, neutral swimmers and pullers may further perform a gliding motion and maintain a stable navigation along the channel. We find that the resulting dynamical system exhibits a supercritical pitchfork bifurcation in which swimming in the mid-plane becomes unstable beyond a transition channel height while two new stable limit cycles or fixed points that are symmetrically disposed with respect to the channel mid-height emerge. Additionally, we show that an accurate description of the averaged swimming velocity and rotation rate in a channel can be captured analytically using the method of hydrodynamic images, provided that the swimmer size is much smaller than the channel height.

    View details for DOI 10.1088/1361-648X/aac470

    View details for PubMedID 29757157

  • Universal entrainment mechanism controls contact times with motile cells PHYSICAL REVIEW FLUIDS Mathijssen, A. J., Jeanneret, R., Polin, M. 2018; 3 (033103)
  • Hydrodynamics of micro-swimmers in films JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS Mathijssen, A. J., Doostmohammadi, A., Yeomans, J. M., Shendruk, T. N. 2016; 806: 35-70
  • Lattice-Boltzmann hydrodynamics of anisotropic active matter JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS de Graaf, J., Menke, H., Mathijssen, A. J., Fabritius, M., Holm, C., Shendruk, T. N. 2016; 144 (13)


    A plethora of active matter models exist that describe the behavior of self-propelled particles (or swimmers), both with and without hydrodynamics. However, there are few studies that consider shape-anisotropic swimmers and include hydrodynamic interactions. Here, we introduce a simple method to simulate self-propelled colloids interacting hydrodynamically in a viscous medium using the lattice-Boltzmann technique. Our model is based on raspberry-type viscous coupling and a force/counter-force formalism, which ensures that the system is force free. We consider several anisotropic shapes and characterize their hydrodynamic multipolar flow field. We demonstrate that shape-anisotropy can lead to the presence of a strong quadrupole and octupole moments, in addition to the principle dipole moment. The ability to simulate and characterize these higher-order moments will prove crucial for understanding the behavior of model swimmers in confining geometries.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.4944962

    View details for Web of Science ID 000374527900008

    View details for PubMedID 27059561

  • Hotspots of boundary accumulation: dynamics and statistics of micro-swimmers in flowing films JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE Mathijssen, A. J., Doostmohammadi, A., Yeomans, J. M., Shendruk, T. N. 2016; 13 (115)


    Biological flows over surfaces and interfaces can result in accumulation hotspots or depleted voids of microorganisms in natural environments. Apprehending the mechanisms that lead to such distributions is essential for understanding biofilm initiation. Using a systematic framework, we resolve the dynamics and statistics of swimming microbes within flowing films, considering the impact of confinement through steric and hydrodynamic interactions, flow and motility, along with Brownian and run-tumble fluctuations. Micro-swimmers can be peeled off the solid wall above a critical flow strength. However, the interplay of flow and fluctuations causes organisms to migrate back towards the wall above a secondary critical value. Hence, faster flows may not always be the most efficacious strategy to discourage biofilm initiation. Moreover, we find run-tumble dynamics commonly used by flagellated microbes to be an intrinsically more successful strategy to escape from boundaries than equivalent levels of enhanced Brownian noise in ciliated organisms.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rsif.2015.0936

    View details for Web of Science ID 000373034300007

    View details for PubMedID 26841796

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4780564

  • Upstream Swimming in Microbiological Flows PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS Mathijssen, A. J., Shendruk, T. N., Yeomans, J. M., Doostmohammadi, A. 2016; 116 (2)


    Interactions between microorganisms and their complex flowing environments are essential in many biological systems. We develop a model for microswimmer dynamics in non-Newtonian Poiseuille flows. We predict that swimmers in shear-thickening (-thinning) fluids migrate upstream more (less) quickly than in Newtonian fluids and demonstrate that viscoelastic normal stress differences reorient swimmers causing them to migrate upstream at the centerline, in contrast to well-known boundary accumulation in quiescent Newtonian fluids. Based on these observations, we suggest a sorting mechanism to select microbes by swimming speed.

    View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.028104

    View details for Web of Science ID 000368286300024

    View details for PubMedID 26824571

  • Understanding the onset of oscillatory swimming in microchannels SOFT MATTER de Graaf, J., Mathijssen, A. J., Fabritius, M., Menke, H., Holm, C., Shendruk, T. N. 2016; 12 (21): 4704-4708


    Self-propelled colloids (swimmers) in confining geometries follow trajectories determined by hydrodynamic interactions with the bounding surfaces. However, typically these interactions are ignored or truncated to the lowest order. We demonstrate that higher-order hydrodynamic moments cause rod-like swimmers to follow oscillatory trajectories in quiescent fluid between two parallel plates, using a combination of lattice-Boltzmann simulations and far-field calculations. This behavior occurs even far from the confining walls and does not require lubrication results. We show that a swimmer's hydrodynamic quadrupole moment is crucial to the onset of the oscillatory trajectories. This insight allows us to develop a simple model for the dynamics near the channel center based on these higher hydrodynamic moments, and suggests opportunities for trajectory-based experimental characterization of swimmers' hydrodynamic properties.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c6sm00939e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000379676800002

    View details for PubMedID 27184912

  • Tracer trajectories and displacement due to a micro-swimmer near a surface JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS Mathijssen, A. J., Pushkin, D. O., Yeomans, J. M. 2015; 773: 498-519
  • Extended parameterisations for MSTW PDFs and their effect on lepton charge asymmetry from W decays EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL C Martin, A. D., Mathijssen, A. J., STIRLING, W. J., Thorne, R. S., Watt, B. J., WATT, G. 2013; 73 (2)