Professor Michael Small

Modelling diseases and predicting the future through maths

The focus of my research is on understanding how structure, pattern and dynamics emerge in complex systems. I work on developing real solutions with a range of industry and community partners in resource engineering and health care.Professor Michael Small

Professor Michael Small uses modern mathematics to data driven sciences to make better predictions and understand the complex world. Applications range from pandemic disease, predicting how patients will respond to cancer treatment, and identifying risk of suicidal ideation, to geophysical modelling and predictive maintenance. As one of Australia’s most published mathematicians, Professor Small is an expert in finding solutions to complicated problems.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in pure mathematics at the University, before undertaking a PhD in applied mathematics using nonlinear time series methods to quantify and describe children’s breathing patterns. During his PhD, Professor Small worked closely with Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, researching sudden infant death syndrome and measuring infant respiration while babies slept.

Following his PhD, Professor Small worked for a variety of global hedge funds and investment companies to develop financial market models. He went on to complete a postdoctorate research fellowship at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, where he researched cardiac dynamics on patients in the Coronary Care Unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Later, he lived in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak in 2003, where he used his mathematical expertise at Hong Kong Polytechnic University to work with the Hong Kong Health Department to research ways to contain the disease. In 2019. He applied his mathematical modelling expertise to help the WA Health Department in modelling coronavirus transmission – particularly to remote communities.

Currently, Professor Small teaches the unit Nonlinear Dynamics at UWA, and holds the CSIRO-UWA Chair in Complex Engineering Systems (since 2016).

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2022 Afraimovich Award Recipient

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Fellow of the Australian Mathematics Society, 2015

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Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal Chaos, 2015 onwards

2021 onwards main editor of the journal Physica A

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American Physical Society, Outstanding Referee, 2016

Winner of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, 2011 (2012-2015)



iMove CRC

  • ‘A data-driven approach to improve roundabout modelling using drone video content analytics’


ARC Discovery Projects

  • 'ARC Research Hub for Transforming Energy Infrastructure Through Digital Engineering’


Stan Perron Charitable Foundation

  • ‘UWA Young Lives Matter Foundation: Reducing self-harm and suicidal behaviours in young people in Western Australia’

WA Main Roads

  • ‘Parameters for Roundabout Modelling’

National Geographic Society

  • ‘Mapping the effects of land clearing on temperature extremes across Oceania and Indonesia's deforestation hotspots’

Young Lives Matter Foundation

  • ‘Development of a Vulnerability Index to Predict Adolescent Suicide’

ARC Discovery Projects

  • ‘TSuNAMi: Time Series Network Animal Modelling’


ARC Discovery Projects

  • ‘ARC Training Centre for Transforming Maintenance through Data Science’

Medical Research Future Fund MRFF

  • ‘Generating Indigenous patient-centred, clinically and culturally capable models of mental health care’


  • ‘Mathematical modelling of multiphase transport and aggregation in turbulent flows’


ARC Discovery Projects

  • 'Navigating tipping points in complex dynamical systems'


  • ‘Subsurface Big Data Visualisation and Analysis: Oil/Gas Reservoirs’

More grants and publications

Contact Professor Michael Small