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Matthew Smith







I am an ecologist working in the Computational Science Lab at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.



I've been working in both theoretical and applied ecological science since I left high-school and have come to realise that there is enormous untapped value in predictive models of ecological and environmental systems. I aim to unleash that potential on the world. My current focus is to develop and deploy valuable new environmental information in important areas to business and society: Agriculture, Energy and Utilities.



Like the rest of my group, I believe that in order to advance our ability to do ecological prediction and forecasting we need new models, new ways to make those models, improved understanding of the systems we're trying to predict and of how much information we need to be able to predict them. In order to achieve these improvements we need to ALSO make fundamental advances in computational science: in how we formulate and constrain complex nonlinear stochastic models, in how we share models and data, in using high performance computing and masses of data, in how we make models and their predictions useful as tools and services. Microsoft Research is a brilliant place to investigate these problems because not only does working here enable us to make those computational breakthroughs to allow us to make the ecological breakthroughs, but those breakthroughs can feedback to benefit the company and human society.



My research is currently focussed on demonstrating how the deployment of valuable new environmental information can benefit businesses and society.



  • Jelte Mense, University of Edinburgh, (co-supervisor Paul Palmer) who is trying to predict the spatiotemporal dynamics of human populations in different scenarios, from riots to climate change induced conflict and migration
  • Johannes Meyerholt, University of Jena, (co-supervisor Soenke Zahele) who is undertaking a systematic analysis of how nitrogen cycling is modelled in global vegetation models
  • Ludovica Luisa Vissat, University of Edinburgh, (co-supervisor Jane Hillston) who is working on formal language support for ecological modelling  












    Other peer-reviewed publications

    M.Smith, A.White, J.A.Sherratt, S.Telfer, M.Begon, X.Lambin, (2008) Disease effects on reproduction can cause population cycles in seasonal environments. Journal of Animal Ecology, 77(2), 378-389 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2007.01328.x.

    M.J. Smith, J.A.Sherratt (2007) The effects of unequal diffusion coefficients on periodic travelling wave properties in oscillatory reaction diffusion systems. Physica D, 236(2), 90-103, doi:10.1016/j.physd.2007.07.013

    Sherratt, J.A. & Smith M.J. (2008) REVIEW, Periodic Travelling Waves in Cyclic Populations: Field studies and reaction-diffusion models. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2007.1327 Proc. R. Soc. Interface, 5, 483-505.

    M.J. Smith, R.Sibly (2008) Identification of tradeoffs underlying the primary strategies of plants. Available online, Evolutionary Ecology Research , 10(1), 45-60.

    M.J. Smith, J.A.Sherratt, N.J.Armstrong, (2008) The effects of obstacle size on periodic travelling waves in oscillatory reaction-diffusion equations. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London - Series A, 464, 365-390. doi: 10.1098/rspa.2007.0198.

    M.J. Smith, A.White, J.A.Sherratt, X.Lambin, M.Begon, (2006) Delayed Density Dependent Season Length Alone can Lead to Rodent Population Cycles. American Naturalist 167(5), 695-704. doi: 10.1086/503119.

    C.Buckee, K.Koelle, M.J. Mustard (Smith), S.Gupta, (2004). The Effects of Host Contact Network Structure on Pathogen Diversity and Strain Structure. PNAS 101(29), 10839-44. doi:10.1073/pnas.0402000101

    M.J.Aitkenhead, M.J.Mustard (Smith), A.J.S.McDonald, (2004). Using neural networks to predict spatial structure in ecological systems. Ecol. Mod. 179(3), 393-403. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2004.05.008.

    M.J. Mustard (Smith), D.B.Standing, M.J.Aitkenhead, D.Robinson, A.J.S.McDonald (2003). The emergence of primary strategies in evolving virtual-plant populations. Evol. Ecol. Res. 5, 1067-81. Available online.

    Other Publications

    Smith, M.J., Brodie, C., Kowalczyk, J., Michnowicz, S. & McGough, H.N. (2006). CITES Orchid Checklist Volume 4.

    United Nations (2005). “Endangered Species” stamp series. Contributed text.

    Mustard (Smith), M.J. & Yuzbasioglu, S. (2005). Turkish Delights. Kew Magazine, Spring 2005

    McGough, H.N. Groves, M.G. Sajeva, M. Mustard (Smith), M.J. & Brodie, C (2004). CITES and Succulents, A User’s Guide. Lego Press

    McGough, H.N. Groves, M.G., Mustard (Smith), M.J.‡ & Brodie, C.(2004). CITES and Plants, A User’s Guide. Lego Press

    Williams, C. Davis, K. & Cheyne, P. (with the assistance of Mustard (Smith), M.J. & Brodie, C) (2003). The CBD, for Botanists.