From bugs to bubbles

A quick introduction

My name is François Peaudecerf, I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Environmental Engineering of the ETH Zürich in the group of Prof. Roman Stocker.

Before joining ETH, I obtained my PhD at the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge (UK) in the group of Prof. Ray Goldstein.

My main research interests include microbial interactions, microswimmers and soft matter physics, in particular air-water interfaces. I investigate these topics by combining experiments with mathematical modelling.


Our latest SHSs paper is online!

25 November 2019

Our work on the modelling of super hydrophobic surfaces (SHSs) contaminated by surfactants, and their associated reduced drag reduction properties, has just been published in Journal of Fluid Mechanics!

Successful ETH Seed Grant application!

27 June 2019

I have been awarded together with Dr. Jeanette Wheeler an ETH Career Seed Grant of 30kCHF for our joint-project investigating bacterial chemotaxis response to aerosol deposition in the microlayer - the thin layer at the top of the water column. We will start working on it in September for one year!

Great outreach week with ARTLAB Zürich!

27 April 2019

Together with my colleagues Jen Nguyen and Dr. Jeanette Wheeler (middle and right of picture respectively), we developped a scientific module on Marine Microbes for ARTLAB Zürich: Water World, a week-long program of scientific and artistic activities for high-school students, in conjunction with Science Xplore Suisse, ETH Zürich and the University of Zürich. It was a great week which just finished, and we hope that we convinced our students of the complexity of microbial life in oceans and lakes, and how fun it can be to spy on them!

Maze paper published in PRF!

18 October 2018

The accompanying paper for our award winning video "Soap opera in the maze: geometry matters in Marangoni flows" (see below) has just been published in Physical Review Fluids. Check it out for more details on the experiment and our hypotheses on what's happening there.

Defense of our Bachelor students!

1 June 2018

Today our students Armin Siegrist, Joshua Weber and Sebastian Zala successfully defended their Bachelor project on the microlayer, co-supervised with Dr. Jeanette Wheeler. Very good job everyone!

Paper published in PRE!

20 February 2018

Our work on microbial mutualism at a distance has just been published in Physical Review E! We present how the geometry of diffusive bridges between mutualistic microbes modifies their population dynamics and interactions.

Marie Curie proposal successful!

29 January 2018

The project I submitted for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship was accepted: during this 2 year project, starting in June, I will investigate the interaction between bacteria and rising bubbles in the ocean.

Maze video awarded prize at DFD

20 November 2017

Our video "Soap opera in the maze: geometry matters in Marangoni flows" has been named an Award Winner at the Gallery of Fluid Motion of the 70th APS DFD meeting in Denver, Colorado US. It is also featured in a post on FYFD. The video is also here.

More news here


  • R. Egan, A. Guittet, F. Temprano-Coleto, T. Isaac, F. J. Peaudecerf, J. R. Landel, P. Luzzatto-Fegiz, C. Burstedde, F. Gibou, "Direct Numerical Simulation of Incompressible Flows on Parallel Octree Grids" submitted (2019)
  • T. Jakuszeit, J. Lindsey-Jones, F. J. Peaudecerf, O.A. Croze, "Migration and accumulation of bacteria with chemotaxis and chemokinesis" submitted (2019) arXiv link
  • H. Laeverenz Schlogelhofer, F. J. Peaudecerf, F. Bunbury, M. J. Whitehouse, R. A. Foster, A. G. Smith, O. A. Croze, "Combining SIMS and mechanistic modelling to reveal nutrient kinetics in an algal-bacterial mutualism" submitted (2019)
  • J. Landel, F. J. Peaudecerf, F. Temprano-Coleto, F. Gibou, R.E. Goldstein, P. Luzzatto-Fegiz, "A theory of the slip and drag of superhydrophobic surfaces with surfactant" Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 883:A18 (2020) arXiv link
  • F. Temprano-Coleto, F. J. Peaudecerf, J. Landel, F. Gibou, and P. Luzzatto-Fegiz, "Soap opera in the maze: geometry matters in Marangoni flows" Physical Review Fluids, 3:100507 (2018) download pdf link
  • F. J. Peaudecerf, F. Bunbury, V. Bhardwaj, M. A. Bees, A. G. Smith, R. E. Goldstein, O. A. Croze, "Microbial mutualism at a distance: the role of geometry in diffusive exchanges", Physical Review E, 97:022411 (2018) download pdf link
  • F. Temprano-Coleto, F. Peaudecerf, J. Landel, F. Gibou, and P. Luzzatto-Fegiz, "Soap opera in the maze: geometry matters in Marangoni flows" Gallery of Fluid Motion, American Physical Society, Division of Fluid Dynamics, (2017) link
  • F. Peaudecerf, J. R. Landel, R. E. Goldstein, and P. Luzzatto-Fegiz, "Traces of surfactants can severely limit the drag reduction of superhydrophobic surfaces", PNAS, 114:7254-7259 (2017) download pdf link
  • S. Widder et al., "Challenges in microbial ecology: building predictive understanding of community function and dynamics.", The ISME Journal, 10:2557–2568 (2016) download pdf link
  • F. Peaudecerf and R. Goldstein, "Feeding ducks, bacterial chemotaxis and the Gini index", Physical Review E, 92:022701 (2015) download pdf link
  • K. Alim, G. Amselem, F. Peaudecerf, M. Brenner, and A. Pringle, "Random network peristalsis in Physarum polycephalum organizes fluid flows across an individual", PNAS, 110:13306-13311 (2013) link
  • W. Kim, F. Peaudecerf, M. W. Baldwin, and J. W. M. Bush, "The hummingbird’s tongue: a self-assembling capillary syphon", Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279:4990 (2012) link
  • J. W. M. Bush, F. Peaudecerf, M. Prakash, and D. Quéré, "On a tweezer for droplets", Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 161:10--14 (2010) link

Outreach and teaching

I have supervised in Mathematical Biology at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge.

I have developed several projects for reaching out to non-specialist audiences and share the excitement of science. A list of these project is available on this dedicated page.

Contact Information

    ETH Zürich
    Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
    Institute for Environmental Engineering
    Stefano Franscini Platz 5
    8063 Zürich

    +41 446324136