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)

  • Parker, M. D., Jones, L. A., Hunter, I. W., Taberner, A. J., Nash, M. P., & Nielsen, P. M. F. (2016). Multidirectional In Vivo Characterization of Skin Using Wiener Nonlinear Stochastic System Identification Techniques. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 139 (1), 011004-011004. 10.1115/1.4034993
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner, Martyn Nash, Matt Parker
  • Yan, X., Kruger, J. A., Li, X., Nielsen, P. M., & Nash, M. P. (2016). Modeling the second stage of labor. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med, 8 (6), 506-516. 10.1002/wsbm.1351
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Kruger, Martyn Nash
  • Schell, A., Budgett, D., Nielsen, P., Smalldridge, J., Hayward, L., Dumoulin, C., & Kruger, J. (2016). DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF A NOVEL INTRA-VAGINAL PRESSURE SENSOR ARRAY. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the International-Continence-Society (ICS), Tokyo, JAPAN. 13 September - 16 September 2016. NEUROUROLOGY AND URODYNAMICS. (pp. 2).
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jennifer Kruger
  • Tian, T., Budgett, S., Stinear, J., Smalldridge, J., Hayward, L., Nielsen, P., & Kruger, J. (2016). IS IT WHAT YOU DO OR THE WAY YOU DO IT?. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the International-Continence-Society (ICS), Tokyo, JAPAN. 13 September - 16 September 2016. NEUROUROLOGY AND URODYNAMICS. (pp. 3).
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephanie Budgett, James Stinear, Jennifer Kruger
  • Cooling, M. T., Nickerson, D. P., Nielsen, P. M., & Hunter, P. J. (2016). Modular modelling with physiome standards. The Journal of physiology
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Mike Cooling, Peter Hunter, David Nickerson
  • Ruddy, B. P., & Nielsen, P. F. (2016). Work in Progress: The Consumer Breathalyzer as a Model Design Project in Introductory Instrumentation. 2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, 1-5. New Orleans, LA, United States: American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bryan Ruddy
  • Cooling, M. T. (2016). Modular Modelling with Physiome Standards. Paper presented at 10th International CellML Workshop, Auckland, New Zealand. 7 June - 11 June 2016. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Hunter, David Nickerson, Mike Cooling
  • Johnston, C. M., Han, J. C., Loiselle, D. S., Nielsen, P. M., & Taberner, A. J. (2016). Cardiac activation heat remains inversely dependent on temperature over the range 27-37°C. American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology, 310 (11), H1512-H1519.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Taberner, Denis Loiselle, June-Chiew Han


Contact details

  • Media Contact

Primary location

Level 5, Room 511
New Zealand

Social links

Web links