Professor Michael Small

Modelling diseases and predicting the future through maths

I’ve spent more than 10 years working in research within the electronic and information engineering sectors. My focus is on understanding how structure, pattern and dynamics emerge from complex systems – particularly in engineering.Professor Michael Small

Professor Michael Small uses modern mathematics in medical research, searching for better ways to predict how patients will respond to cancer treatment. As one of Australia’s most published mathematicians, Professor Small is an expert in finding solutions to complicated medical 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.

Currently, Professor Small teaches the unit Dynamics and Control at UWA, and holds the CSIRO-UWA Chair in Complex Engineering Systems.

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UWA Senior Research Award, 2016

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Fellow of the Australian Mathematics Society, 2015

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Editor of the journal Chaos, 2015 onwards

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UWA Senior Research Award, 2014

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



ARC Discovery Projects

  • 'Navigating tipping points in complex dynamical systems'

CSIRO, Research Plus postdoctoral fellowship

  • ‘Enhancing tailings dewatering via optimal particle bridging activity from viscoelastic polymer solutions’

Resource Capital Funds

  • ‘Agent based modelling to model the commodity markets’

Spanish Program of Excellent Research Groups

  • ‘Applications of discrete and continuous dynamical systems’


National Natural Sciences Foundation of China

  • ‘Study on the interactions of coupled networks, epidemic spreading and information diffusion’


University of Adelaide ex ARC Linkage Projects

  • 'Control Points in Nitrogen Uptake - Enhancing the Response of Cereals to Nitrogen Supply and Demand'

National Natural Sciences Foundation of China

  • ‘Climate time series analysis by means of complex network approaches’

More grants and publications

Contact Professor Michael Small