Professor Merryn Tawhai


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Deputy Director


Merryn Tawhai graduated from the University of Auckland with a PhD in Engineering Science in 2001. She leads a research programme at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) in applied computational physiology of the respiratory system. Merryn is the Deputy Director of the ABI and Director of the Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE). She was awarded the 2016 MacDiarmid Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) Te Apārangi, is a Fellow of the RSNZ, and a Fellow of IAMBE and AIMBE.  

Research | Current

My research is focused on the development of integrative computational models of the pulmonary system and their application in understanding structure-function interactions in normal physiology and in the pathophysiology of pulmonary disease. I have particular interest in the application of computational modelling to improving clinical diagnosis and monitoring of pulmonary disease, particularly in the older lung.

Postgraduate supervision

Current graduate students


  • Joyce John (current) A computer-based quantitative CT analysis for prediction of disease progression and mortality in interstitial lung disease

  • Behdad Sharbafi Ebrahimi (current) A tool for prediction of patient status in pulmonary hypertension (Main supervisor AR Clark)

  • Toby Jackson (current) The influence of lung alveolar microstructure on lung tissue mechanics

  • Amir Rastar (current) Computational models for image- and model-based biomarkers in asthma

  • Daniel Addo (under examination) In silico modelling to advance Arterial Spin Labelling Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Main supervisor KS Burrowes) 



  • Zay Yar Win (2020) Development of a cohort of patient-specific models of lung mechanical ventilation and gas exchange

  • Hamed Zaeim (2019) Development of a Biomechanical Basis for Lung Image Registration (Main supervisor AR Clark)

  • Yuwen Zhang  (2019) Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: quantitative methods to compare structure and function to the normal lung

  • Mahyar Osanlouy (2018) Statistical Shape Analysis to Quantify Lung Structure-Function Relationships over the Adult Lifespan

  • Rojan Saghian (2018) Modelling the uterine circulation to understand the causes and consequences of inadequate spiral artery remodeling (Main supervisor AR Clark)

  • Mabelle Lin (2017) A computational model of the placental chorionic villous (Main supervisor AR Clark) 

  • Wendy Kang (2017) Computational models for respiratory gas exchange and their applications

  • Karthik Subramaniam (2016) Age-Related Mechanical Changes to the Lung: A Multi-Scale Modelling Approach

  • Joshua Lee (2015) A computational model to predict function in experimental pulmonary embolism

  • Matthew Barrett, (2013) Modelling blood flow and oxygen transport in the active brain (Main supervisor V Suresh)

  • Wilson Chiu (2011) Multi-scale models of Respiratory impedance and Bimodal ventilation 

  • Inga Wang (2010) A mathematical model of smooth muscle contraction in the human lung (Main supervisor J Sneyd)

  • Kerry Hedges (2010) A Computational Model of Forced Expiration Through Anatomical Airways in Health and Disease

  • Annalisa Swan (2010) A Multi-scale Computational Model of Pulmonary Gas Exchange

  • Jennine Mitchell (2010) A computational model of the mechanisms that influence inert gas measurement of regional ventilation

  • Nicolas Warren (2009) A computational model of bronchial airway mucociliary transport

  • Kelly Burrowes (2005) A mathematical model of the pulmonary circulation


  • Arthur Postles (2014), Arterial wall shear stress in chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension
  • Ho-Fung Chan (2013), Multimodality image registration for bronchiectasis
  • Shijie Yin (2008), An anatomically based mathematical model of the human placenta
  • Tingting Zhao (2007), Modelling gravitational deformations of the sheep lung
  • Roseanne Leaupepe (2007), A mathematical model of the effect of fibre angle on contraction of the murine airway


Auckland Bioengineering Institute

2018 - current:    Director, the MedTech CoRE

2017-current:   University of Auckland Budget Committee

2015-19:    Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) for PBRF, University of Auckland

2015-17:    Deputy Director, the MedTech CoRE

2013 - current:     Deputy Director, ABI

Areas of expertise

  • Computational physiology
  • Mathematical models of integrative lung function
  • Multi-scale multi-physics models

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Howe, S. L., Chase, J. G., Redmond, D. P., Morton, S. E., Kim, K. T., Pretty, C., ... Desaive, T. (2020). Inspiratory respiratory mechanics estimation by using expiratory data for reverse-triggered breathing cycles. Computer methods and programs in biomedicine, 18610.1016/j.cmpb.2019.105184
  • Herrmann, J., Lilitwat, W., Tawhai, M. H., & Kaczka, D. W. (2020). High-Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation and Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury: Size Does Matter. Critical care medicine, 48 (1), e66-e73. 10.1097/ccm.0000000000004073
  • Morton, S. E., Knopp, J. L., Chase, J. G., Möller K, Docherty, P., Shaw, G. M., & Tawhai, M. (2020). Authors' Response to Drs. Ece Salihoglu and Ziya Salihoglu's Letter to the Editor. Annals of biomedical engineering, 48 (1), 2-3. 10.1007/s10439-019-02339-5
  • Tawhai, M. H., Clark, A. R., & Chase, J. G. (2019). The Lung Physiome and virtual patient models: From morphometry to clinical translation. Morphologie : bulletin de l'Association des anatomistes, 103 (343), 131-138. 10.1016/j.morpho.2019.09.003
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alys Clark
  • Clark, A. R., Burrowes, K. S., & Tawhai, M. H. (2019). Ventilation/Perfusion Matching: Of Myths, Mice, and Men. Physiology (Bethesda, Md.), 34 (6), 419-429. 10.1152/physiol.00016.2019
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alys Clark, Kelly Burrowes
  • Herrmann, J., Tawhai, M. H., & Kaczka, D. W. (2019). Strain, strain rate, and mechanical power: An optimization comparison for oscillatory ventilation. International journal for numerical methods in biomedical engineering, 35 (10)10.1002/cnm.3238
  • Ebrahimi, B. S., Tawhai, M. H., Kumar, H., & Clark, A. R. (2019). Wave reflection in an anatomical model of the pulmonary circulation in local and global hypertensive disease.. Conference proceedings : ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual Conference. 10.1109/embc.2019.8857948
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alys Clark, Haribalan Kumar
  • Kiely, D. G., Levin, D. L., Hassoun, P. M., Ivy, D., Jone, P.-N., Bwika, J., ... Mazurek, J. A. (2019). Statement on imaging and pulmonary hypertension from the Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (PVRI). PULMONARY CIRCULATION, 9 (3)10.1177/2045894019841990


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 7, Room 709
New Zealand

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