Alexander Petroff, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Physics
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Office: 228 BioPhysics
Laboratory:  BioPhysics 120 & Sackler 133
Office Phone: (508) 793-7366

Personal Website

Alexander Petroff is an experimental physicist who uses hydrodynamics and reaction diffusion equations to understand the organization, dynamics, and evolution of microbial systems in table-top experiments. He has previously published several studies on the growth and geometry of river networks and stromatolites.


B.A., Carleton College, 2006
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008

Research Interests

Complex microbial ecosystems, active matter, experimental biophysics, Earth Science.

Selected Publications

Petroff A, Tejera F, & Libchaber A., Subsurface Microbial Ecosystems: A Photon Flux  and a Metabolic Cascade. Journal of Statistical Physics 167 763 (2017)

Petroff, A, Wu, XL, & Libchaber, A., Fast-moving bacteria self organize into  active two-dimensional crystals of rotating cells.  Physical Review Letters 114 158102 (2015)

Petroff, A., & Libchaber, A., Hydrodynamics and collective behavior of the  tethered bacterium Thiovulum majus. PNAS E537 (2014)

Bosak, T, Knoll, AH, & Petroff, A., The Meaning of Stromatolites. Annual Review  of Earth and Planetary Sciences 41 21 (2013)

Devauchelle, O, Petroff, AP, Seybold H, & Rothman D.H., Ramification of Stream  Networks. PNAS 109 20832 (2012)