Professor Michael Plank Professor Michael Plank

I am a Professor in Mathematics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and a Principal Investigator at the CoRE Te Pūnaha Matatini.


I am an Applied Mathematician working at the interface of mathematics and biology. I have research interests in ecological and social networks, population dynamics, size-structured marine ecosystems, collective cell behavior, and intracellular dynamics. Some of the tools I use in my research include stochastic processes, integro and partial differential equations, dynamical systems, spatial moment dynamics, statistical modelling, and parameter inference. My research is application-driven and focuses on mechanistic mathematical and stochastic models that capture the emergent behaviour of a biological system and offer qualitative insight into key governing mechanisms.


For a complete list of publications, see my UC Research Profile or my Google Scholar Profile. If you would like a copy of any of my publications, feel free to email me.

Potential postgraduate and Honours students

If you are interested in any of my currently available projects, please get in touch with me.

The University of Canterbury offers a limited number of Doctoral Scholarships (fees plus stipend), which are open to domestic and international students. There are also fees-only scholarships for Masters and Doctoral students.

Specific scholarships or job vacancies will be posted here when available. See also Te Pūnaha Matatini scholarships and Te Pūnaha Matatini student internships

Current projects and grants

  • Improving biosecurity outcomes via surveillance analytics - with Alex James and postdoctoral fellow Rebecca Turner (Scion Research) - funded by Te Pūnaha Matatini and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge (2018-2021)
  • Mathematical models of cell migration in three-dimensional living tissues - with Matthew Simpson - funded by the Australian Research Council (2017-2020)
  • Very large-scale conservation: pan-regional control of invasive predators - with Alex James and postdoctoral research fellow Audrey Lustig - funded by Te Pūnaha Matatini (2017-2021)
  • Social network models for identifying vulnerable children - with Alex James and Jeanette McLeod - funded by Ministry of Social Development (2017-present)
  • The role of intercellular signalling in neurovascular coupling - with Tim David (2013-2019)

Current students

  • Giorgia Vattiato: Modelling effects of individual heterogeneity on emergent population characteristics
  • Stewart Dowding: Massively parallel simulations of coupled arterial cells: Ca2+ dynamics and atherosclerosis
  • Michael Hackney: Modelling cooperative and competitive behaviour in the exploitation of marine resources
  • Allanah Kenny: Neurovascular coupling and uncertainty quantification
  • Stephen Merry: Network models for TB in a possum population

Past projects and grants

  • Cell invasion: interactions across scales - with Matthew Simpson and Richard Law - funded by the RSNZ Marsden Fund (2012-2015)
  • Population models of Tradescantia fluminensis - with Alex James - funded by AgResearch (2010-2016)
  • Aquatic ecosystem dynamics: size pr species - with Richard Law - funded by the by RSNZ Marsden Fund (2009-2012)
  • Quantifying the effect of garden waste displosal on the spread of invasive species - with Alex James - funded by the Department of Conservation
  • Modelling invasive species and weed impact - with Jennifer Brown and Alex James - funded by the NZ Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (2006-2010)

Past student theses

Media and blogs

Michael Plank, Room 614 Erskine Building, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Tel: +64 3 3692462