My research focuses on the numerical modelling of complex interactions between physical, chemical and biological processes in environmental and biotechnological applications, starting from first principles and by applying chemical engineering and computational methods.
Particularly, we are internationally recognized for leading research in the mathematical modelling of biofilms. The distinct expertise of my group is in creating micro-scale numerical models for the development of spatial patterns in microbial communities based on fundamental laws of physics and chemistry in combination with an individual-based representation of microorganisms.
Multidisciplinary knowledge is essential in solving practical problems from life sciences. This involves not only expertise in many particular biosciences (microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, bioinformatics and microbial ecology) but also their multi-level integration (systems biology). Equally important for both large-scale (industrial) and small scale (bio-nano) applications is the input provided by engineering disciplines, in particular chemical and metabolic engineering, but also for example, fluid dynamics, mechanics, electrical engineering, automation and process control. The best way to integrate all this seemingly overwhelming knowledge in a theoretically consistent framework is by mathematical modelling. Modelling attempts to represent the reality in a numerical (computational) model based on sets of rigorous balance equations, constitutive laws and further algorithms. In addition, the modelling activity also requires computational physics, applied mathematics and advanced computer programming skills. Numerical (“in-silicio”) models are therefore the way to surpass the qualitative level (i.e., empirical or descriptive) in research and reach the quantitative understanding that is essential for practical application of a technology.