Timon Idema

Dr. Timon Idema

Associate Professor / Principal investigator
Programme director MSc Nanobiology

Office:  F1.390
Phone:  +31-15-2782867
Email:  t.idema [at] tudelft [dot] nl

Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Leiden University, 2009
M.Sc. in mathematics, Leiden University, 2005
M.Sc. in physics, Leiden University, 2004

Brief CV:
Aug 2020-present: programme director MSc Nanobiology, TU Delft / Erasmus MC
Jun 2018-present: associate professor, TU Delft
Sep 2012-May 2018: assistant professor, TU Delft
Feb 2010-Jun 2012: postdoctoral researcher, University of Pennsylvania, working with Andrea Liu, Philip Nelson and Tom Lubensky.
Sep 2005-Dec 2009: PhD student, Leiden University, working with Cornelis Storm.
Jan-Feb 2008: Visiting PhD student, Institut Curie, Paris, working with Jean-François Joanny.

In September 2012, I started a theoretical biophysics group at the Department of Bionanoscience at TU Delft. We primarily work on the emergent collective behaviour of many actors in biological systems. Within this theme, we pursue two main lines: collective dynamics of active (i.e., energy-consuming) systems, and membrane-mediated interactions, where membrane-deforming objects interact through those deformations. You can read more about my research interests here.

Next to doing research, I teach a number of courses in the nanobiology, physics and mathematics programs, and am actively involved with the TU Delft iGEM teams. For my teaching efforts, I received a SURF education award (2023) and the 2020 Westerdijk prize. Per the academic year 2020-2021, I'm the programme director of the MSc program in Nanobiology at TU Delft and Erasmus MC. I've also served as an academic editor for PLoS ONE, a member of the board of the condensed matter division of the European Physical Society (EPS-CMD, 2017-2020), and a member of the advisory boards of TU Delft OPEN and the TU Delft extension school.

For an up-to-date overview of our scientific output, see the talks and publications pages. We enjoy many close collaborations with several grous in both theory and experiment.

From February 2010 until June 2012, I was a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, U.S.A., working on several problems in soft condensed matter theory and theoretical biophysics. With Andrea Liu and Philip Nelson, I studied the (bio)physics of early embryo development, in collaboration with the experimental groups of Thomas Gregor at Princeton and Dennis Discher at UPenn. Together with Gareth Alexander I worked on self-diffusiophoresis, the propulsuion of particles by gradients they themselves create. With Tobias Baumgart and Tom Lubensky I studied the dynamics of phase separation in lipid bilayer membranes. Finally, at UPenn I got interested in the collective behavior of self-propelled soft particles, in particular when they are close to jamming, which I studied together with Carl Goodrich.

Until December 2009, I worked at the Instituut Lorentz of Leiden University. There I worked with Kees Storm on two topics in biophysics: the morphology of membranes and the behavior of molecular motors. We were very lucky to be able to directly cooporate with the Leiden experimental biophysics group of Thomas Schmidt and the AMOLF group of Marileen Dogterom on both subjects. At the same time, I also collaborated with the group of Jean-François Joanny at the Institut Curie in Paris on the topic of cell adhesion and contact inhibition.

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