Professor Poul Michael Fonss Nielsen



Poul has a Bachelor of Science in Maths and Physics, and a Bachelor of Engineering and Phd in Engineering Science, from the University of Auckland.

Poul is affiliated with several groups within the University:

Research | Current

Poul's research focuses on using novel instrumentation, detailed computational models, and quantitative descriptions of physical processes to gain a better understanding of human physiology. Many of his projects couple mathematical modelling with innovative instrumentation to improve our ability to understand and interpret measurements of complex biological systems, subject to the constraints of well-understood physical conservation and balance laws.

Poul's research projects include:

  • Physiome: an integrated multi-centric program to design, develop, implement, test and document, archive and disseminate quantitative information and integrative models of the functional behaviour of organelles, cells, tissues, organs, and organisms;
  • CellML: an open standard to store and exchange computer-based mathematical models;
  • FieldML: a declarative language for representing the dynamic geometry and solution fields of computational models;
  • Breast mechanics: computational biomechanical models to improve the detection of breast cancer using information obtained from a variety of imaging modalities;
  • Muscle microcalorimetry: to identify the dynamic stiffness of isolated rat trabeculae while simultaneously recording muscle heat production;
  • Soft tissue mechanics: coupling large deformation theory, structurally-based constitutive relations, and nonlinear identification techniques to understand the mechanics of soft tissues;
  • Pelvic floor mechanics: modelling the second stage of labour and pelvic floor prolapse;
  • Modelling shaken baby syndrome: gaining an understanding of the relationships between shaking insults and soft tissue injury in infants;
  • Bioinstrumentation and medical devices: development of novel instrumentation for measuring biophysical properties of living tissue (microrobotics, stereoscopy, optical coherence tomography, spectral imaging, interferometry).

Postgraduate supervision



  • Thiranja Prasad Babarenda Gamage, Modelling and identifying the mechanical properties of skin and underlying tissues
  • Amir Haji Rassouliha, Hardware acceleration of cross-correlation-based identification of surface geometry of deformable bodies
  • Matthew Parker, Model-based identification of the mechanical properties of living skin
  • Nikini Puhulwelle Gamage, Model-based prediction of brain injury associated with shaken baby syndrome  
  • Adam Reeve,The mechanics of vascularised tissue
  • Samuel Richardson, Development of an optical coherence tomography based skin cancer diagnostic tool
  • Oliver Thompson, Interpretation and Medical Application of Laser Biospeckle


  • 2011 - 2013: James Cook Research Fellowship, Royal Society of New Zealand.
  • 2011 - present: Liggins Institute Honorary Professor.
  • 2010: OCCAM Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Brennan, K. A., Ruddy, B. P., Nielsen, P. M. F., & Taberner, A. J. (2019). Spatially-resolved diffuse imaging for high-speed depth estimation of jet injection. Journal of biophotonics10.1002/jbio.201900205
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bryan Ruddy, Andrew Taberner
  • Davidson, M., Nielsen, P., Taberner, A., & Kruger, J. (2019). CHANGE IN PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLE STIFFNESS AND FORCE DURING PREGNANCY AND POST-PARTUM: PRELIMINARY RESULTS.. Paper presented at 49th Annual Meeting of the International-Continence-Society (ICS), Gothenburg, SWEDEN. 3 September - 6 September 2019. NEUROUROLOGY AND URODYNAMICS. (pp. 2).
  • Davidson, M., Nielsen, P., Taberner, A., & Kruger, J. (2019). IT MIGHT BE FREE, BUT IS IT ACCURATE? TIME TO REASSESS DIGITAL PALPATION FOR MUSCLE STIFFNESS.. Paper presented at 49th Annual Meeting of the International-Continence-Society (ICS), Gothenburg, SWEDEN. 3 September - 6 September 2019. NEUROUROLOGY AND URODYNAMICS. (pp. 3).
  • Babarenda Gamage, T. P., Malcolm, D. T. K., Maso Talou, G., Mîra A, Doyle, A., Nielsen, P. M. F., & Nash, M. P. (2019). An automated computational biomechanics workflow for improving breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Interface focus, 9 (4)10.1098/rsfs.2019.0034
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Martyn Nash, Thiranja Babarenda Gamage, Anthony Doyle, Gonzalo Maso Talou
  • Parker, M. D., Babarenda Gamage, T. P., HajiRassouliha, A., Taberner, A. J., Nash, M. P., & Nielsen, P. M. F. (2019). Surface deformation tracking and modelling of soft materials. Biomechanics and modeling in mechanobiology, 18 (4), 1031-1045. 10.1007/s10237-019-01127-3
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Amir Haji Rassouliha, Thiranja Babarenda Gamage, Andrew Taberner, Martyn Nash
  • Pedofsky, L., Budgett, D., Nielsen, P. M. F., Smallridge, J., Hayward, L., & Kruger, J. (2019). The use of an intra-vaginal pressure sensor device to evaluate changes in intra-vaginal pressure profiles pre and post pelvic organ prolapse surgery. Conference Record - IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference. 10.1109/I2MTC.2019.8827048
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Kruger
  • Dowrick, J. M., Tran, K., Loiselle, D. S., Nielsen, P. M. F., Taberner, A. J., Han, J.-C., & Ward, M.-L. (2019). The slow force response to stretch: Controversy and contradictions. Acta physiologica (Oxford, England), 226 (1)10.1111/apha.13250
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: June-Chiew Han, Kenneth Tran, Denis Loiselle, Marie-Louise Ward, Andrew Taberner, Jarrah Dowrick
  • Taberner, A., Nielsen, P., Johnston, C., Anderson, A., Cheuk, M., Garrett, A., ... Ruddy, B. (2019). A Dynamometer for Nature's Engines. IEEE INSTRUMENTATION & MEASUREMENT MAGAZINE, 22 (2), 10-16. 10.1109/MIM.2019.8674628
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Denis Loiselle, Andrew Taberner, Kenneth Tran, Bryan Ruddy, Amir Haji Rassouliha, Toan Pham, June-Chiew Han, Jarrah Dowrick


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 511
New Zealand

Social links

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