Professor David Smith PhD FIMA

Professor David Smith

School of Mathematics
Professor of Applied Mathematics

Contact details

+44 (0) 121 414 7374
+44 (0) 121 414 3389
School of Mathematics
Watson Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dave Smith is Professor of Applied Mathematics and School Director of Research.

He is author or co-author of approximately 50 research papers in scientific journals, including in the Internationally-leading publications Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A. Research software developed by his team can be found here: He has received funding for his research from EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, STFC and Wellcome Trust. From October 2018, Dave will be a Turing Fellow with the Alan Turing Institute.

Dave’s main research areas are sperm motility biofluiddynamics, working alongside Centre for Human Reproductive Science, Birmingham Women’s Hospital (Science Lead Dr Jackson Kirkman-Brown) with team members Dr Meurig Gallagher and Dr Gemma Cupples, and modelling the synthetic biology nanofiber M13 bacteriophage, working with Dr Rosemary Dyson, Dr Kenton Arkill (Nottingham), Prof Tim Dafforn and Dr Matt Hicks (Linear Diagnostics Ltd). Wider collaboration related to these projects includes Dr Hermes Gadelha (York) and Prof Eamonn Gaffney (Oxford).

Another central area of interest is the related problem of how cilia shape the development of the growing embryo. Dave collaborates with Dr Susana Lopes (Lisbon, Portugal), Dr Tom Montenegro-Johnson (Cambridge) and Dr Kathy Hentges (Manchester) on imaging cilia motility and fluid mechanics in early embryo development.

As a keen multidisciplinary collaborator, Dave is an affiliate to the Institute for Metabolism and Systems Research and Centre for Computational Biology, working with scientists and medics ranging from cancer diagnosis to plastic surgery and endocrinology. Collaborative work includes modelling T cell reconstitution following stem cell transplant (with Prof Paul Moss’s group), modelling antibiotic resistance (with Dr Sara Jabbari), and adrenal steroid metabolism (with Prof Wiebke Arlt’s group, Prof Peter Tino and Dr Kerstin Bunte). A key feature of all of the above projects is the integration of mathematical modelling with complex experimental data.

Dave is an enthusiastic communicator of applied mathematics and biological modelling, and provides talks to young people on this subject, including recent school and college visits, and organises IMA West Midlands Branch talks at the University of Birmingham.

He has lectured a range of undergraduate material, from 1st year Probability and Combinatorics to masters-level Numerical Methods in Linear Algebra, Viscous Flow and Computational Methods. 

School server web page:


  • PhD Applied Mathematics, University of Birmingham, June 2006
  • BA (Hons I), Mathematical Sciences, University of Oxford, July 2000


Dave qualified with a BA (Hons) from the University of Oxford in 2000. In 2001 he began studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, inspired by emerging links between Applied Mathematics and the School of Medicine. Dave completed his PhD in 2005 (graduating the following year), leading to several publications on the mechanics of airway defence, and the role of fluid mechanics in early embryo development.

Following his PhD, Dave received funding from the Wellcome Trust Value in People Fellowship scheme, enabling him to begin working with colleagues at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and Medical School on studying how human sperm swim, from a combined mathematical and experimental perspective. This led to an MRC Training Fellowship, and subsequently a Birmingham Science City Fellowship.

In December 2009, Dave was appointed lecturer in the School of Mathematics, and combines collaborative research both within the department, cross-college and with other universities, with teaching and management responsibilities, including Master’s programme development.

In 2015 Dave was promoted to Senior Lecturer and became Head of the Applied Mathematics research group.


  • Single Honours Mathematics (G100, G103, G141)
  • Mathematics Majors: Mathematics with Business Management (G1N2); Mathematics with Engineering (J920); Mathematics with Philosophy (G1V5)
  • Joint Honours Mathematics: Mathematics & Computer Science (GG14); Pure Mathematics & Computer Science (GGC4); Mathematics & Sport Science (GC17); Mathematics & Music (GW13); Mathematics & Philosophy (GV15)
  • Theoretical Physics and Applied Mathematics (FG31)
  • Mathematics Minors: French Studies and Mathematics (GR11); German Studies and Mathematics (GR12)
  • Natural Sciences (CFG0, FCG0)
  • MSc Mathematical Modelling

Postgraduate supervision

  • Lead supervisor of one PhD student
  • Co-supervisor of four PhD students

I am very happy to discuss PhD project supervision in Mathematical Biology and Viscous Fluid Dynamics with highly-qualified candidates.



  • Cell motility, particularly sperm swimming
  • Modelling embryonic development
  • Biological viscous fluid mechanics
  • Biomedical modelling


Mathematical and computational modelling of biological systems, with a focus on microscale mechanical processes.


For a full list, please see: Google Scholar


Dave Smith is Professor of Applied Mathematics; his research focuses on how mathematics can be used to improve healthcare, through the development of new diagnoses and improved treatments, and also through helping biomedical researchers build quantitative understanding of complex systems that underlie disease. Particular areas of involvement include male fertility via collaboration with Centre for Human Reproductive Science, Birmingham Women’s Hospital, and endocrine disorder, via collaboration with Institute for Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham. He works as a college member and review panellist for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, mainly contributing in the area of Healthcare Technologies Research.