Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

David M. Bortz

Second Advisor

Vanja Dukic

Third Advisor

Keith Julien

Fourth Advisor

Zachary Kilpatrick

Fifth Advisor

Michael Solomon


Bacterial biofilms are communities of bacteria growing on a surface to which they have adhered, typically in an aqueous environment. The motivation to understand biofilm behavior arises from a variety of applications including the development of strategies to mitigate corrosion in industrial machinery, the treatment of bacterial infections, and process control in bioreactors. The focus in this thesis is on fluid-structure interaction and biomechanical properties of biofilms. Detailed studies of a mathematical biofilm model that includes the heterogeneous rheology observed in biofilms, a statistical model of biofilm microstructure, and an application of techniques from a posteriori numerical analysis to the Method of Regularized Stokeslets are explored. Key findings include the validation of a biofilm model with experimental data, an exploration of the effect that biofilm microstructure has on macroscopic properties, and an elucidation of how error propagates in a numerical method for biofilm simulation.