(6ez) Microbial Biofilm Processes: Multiscale Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization | AIChE

(6ez) Microbial Biofilm Processes: Multiscale Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization


Kapellos, G. E. - Presenter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
My scientific research is focused on processes that involve the formation and evolution of microbial biofilms, i.e. dynamic microbial communities thriving into matrices of extracellular biopolymers. Spearheaded by mathematical modeling and computer-aided simulations, and also supplemented by microscale experiments, my research activities aim at improved mechanistic understanding of biofilm processes with a long-term vision to achieve some control over biofilms and engineer their behavior in practical applications like the confinement of organic pollutant plumes in the subsurface, the biodegradation of crude oil spills in marine waters, and ultimately the eradication of pathogenic biofilms in human tissues.

Research Achievements

  • Development of a novel computer simulator of biofilm growth dynamics in porous media, which combined a continuum-based approach for fluid flow and mass transport with individual-based approaches for biofilm growth and detachment. Main publication: Kapellos GE, Alexiou TS, Payatakes AC. Hierarchical simulator of biofilm growth and dynamics in granular porous materials, Advances in Water Resources 30(6-7):1648-1667 (2007).
  • Development of new theoretical models for interstitial flow and diffusion in cellular biological media (tissues, biofilms, etc) through a consistent combination of the spatial averaging method for the derivation of upscaled equations, with the particle-in-cell method for the calculation of macroscale parameters as functions of microscale system properties. Relevant publication: Kapellos GE, Alexiou TS, Payatakes AC. A multiscale theoretical model for fluid flow in cellular biological media, International Journal of Engineering Science 51:241-271 (2012).

Current Research Direction

Over the last few years, my research is mainly focused on the formation of microbial biofilms over oily substrates (hydrocarbons). My interest in this topic was fueled during my research visit at Texas Tech Univ. (2013-‘14), where I participated in a GoMRI-funded collaborative research program that investigated the fate of crude oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon blowout. At present, through a Marie Sklodowska Curie project, I have joined forces with Profs. Patrick S. Doyle (MIT, USA) and Nicolas Kalogerakis (TU-Crete, Greece) towards understanding the mechanisms and quantifying the process rates of oil droplet biodegradation via a combination of microfluidics, biochemical analyses and computational modeling. Relevant publication: Kapellos GE, Paraskeva CA, Kalogerakis N, Doyle PS. Theoretical insight into the biodegradation of solitary oil microdroplets moving through a water column, Bioengineering, 5:15 (2018).

Research Interests:

  • Biofilm growth and migration in porous media.
  • Biofilm formation at liquid-liquid interfaces.
  • Transport phenomena in cellular biological media (biofilms, tissues, etc.).
  • Multiscale modeling and simulation.
  • Experiments with microfluidic/microfabricated devices.

Teaching Interests:

  • Transport Phenomena in Poroelastic and Biological Materials
  • Computational Modeling of Biological Systems
  • Biomechanics

Teaching Experience

At the University of Patras (Greece), Department of Chemical Engineering, for several years:

  • Teaching assistant in the undergraduate courses Mass Transfer (with Profs. Alkiviades Payatakes and Christakis Paraskeva) and Introduction to Scientific Computing with Fortran (with Prof. Dimitrios Mataras).
  • Co-supervisor of several diploma projects of undergraduate students (with Profs. Payatakes, Pavlou and Paraskeva).