Professor Michael Plank Professor Michael Plank


Michael Plank is a Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and Principal Investigator at Te Pūnaha Matatini, New Zealand's Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems and Data Analytics. He obtained his BSc(Hons) in Mathematics from the University of Bristol in 2000 and his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Leeds in 2003. He started at the University of Canterbury as a postdoctoral research fellow in 2004 and as a permanent academic staff member in 2006. Professor Plank's research lies at the interface of Applied Mathematics and Biology, spanning scales from intracellular signalling and collective cell behaviour, through to large ecosystem dynamics and ecological and social networks. His research is application-driven and focuses on mechanistic mathematical and stochastic models that capture emergent behaviour and offer qualitative insight into underlying mechanisms.


Research

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.

Publications

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)
  • 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
  • Michael Hackney: Modelling cooperative and competitive behaviour in the exploitation of marine resources
  • Stephen Merry: Network models for TB in a possum population
  • Julie Mugford: Developing methods to reduce uncertainty with citizen science data

Past projects and grants

  • Social network models for identifying vulnerable children - with Alex James and Jeanette McLeod - funded by Ministry of Social Development (2017-2018)
  • 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
Email: michael.plank@canterbury.ac.nz