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)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Davidson, M. J., Nielsen, P. M. F., Taberner, A. J., & Kruger, J. A. (2020). Change in levator ani muscle stiffness and active force during pregnancy and post-partum. INTERNATIONAL UROGYNECOLOGY JOURNAL, 31 (11), 2345-2351. 10.1007/s00192-020-04493-0
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner, Jennifer Kruger
  • Cheuk, M. L., Lam Po Tang, E. J., HajiRassouliha, A., Han, J.-C., Nielsen, P. M. F., & Taberner, A. J. (2020). A Method for Markerless Tracking of the Strain Distribution of Actively Contracting Cardiac Muscle Preparations. EXPERIMENTAL MECHANICS10.1007/s11340-020-00646-w
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: June-Chiew Han, Andrew Taberner
  • Keating, S. M., Waltemath, D., König M, Zhang, F., Dräger A, Chaouiya, C., ... Helikar, T. (2020). SBML Level 3: an extensible format for the exchange and reuse of biological models. Molecular systems biology, 16 (8)10.15252/msb.20199110
  • Clerx, M., Cooling, M. T., Cooper, J., Garny, A., Moyle, K., Nickerson, D. P., ... Sorby, H. (2020). CellML 2.0. Journal of integrative bioinformatics, 17 (2-3).10.1515/jib-2020-0021
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Nickerson, Alan Garny, Hugh Sorby
  • Xu, J., McKeage, J. W., Ruddy, B. P., Nielsen, P. M. F., & Taberner, A. J. (2020). Blood Collection from the Porcine Ear Using a Jet Injector. Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS. 10.1109/EMBC44109.2020.9175421
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner, James McKeage, Bryan Ruddy
  • Creamer, S. A., Lam Po Tang, E. J., Nielsen, P. M. F., & Taberner, A. J. (2020). A miniature mechanical testing device for testing hydrogel-based biomaterials in a confocal microscope. Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS. 10.1109/EMBC44109.2020.9176463
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner
  • Knorn, S., Varagnolo, D., Kask, N., Budgett, D. M., Kruger, J., & Nielsen, P. M. F. (2020). Analysing the effects of biofeedback using control-oriented formalisms: the case of gamified Kegel exercising. European Control Conference 2020, ECC 2020.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Kruger
  • Anumba, D. O. C., Gillespie, S., Jha, S., Abdi, S., Kruger, J., Taberner, A., ... Li, X. (2020). Postnatal pelvic floor muscle stiffness measured by vaginal elastometry in women with obstetric anal sphincter injury: a pilot study. International urogynecology journal, 31 (3), 567-575. 10.1007/s00192-019-04136-z
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner, Jennifer Kruger


Contact details

Primary office location

Level G, Room G09A
New Zealand

Social links

Web links