Associate Professor Alona Ben-Tal staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (09) 414 0800  ext. 43608

Associate Professor Alona Ben-Tal PhD, MSc, BSc, NZMS

Associate Professor

School of Natural and Computational Sciences

My research is truly interdisciplinary and lies in the fields of applied mathematics, dynamical systems, numerical methods and physiology. My main interest is the integrated behaviour of the cardiorespiratory system and over the years, I have studied different aspects of this system including lung mechanics, gas exchange, neural control of breathing and heart rate control. My research involves mathematical modelling at different levels of complexity and mathematical analysis using a variety of mathematical techniques. 



  • Doctor of Philosophy - University of Auckland (2001)
  • Master of Science - Israel Institute of Technology (1994)
  • Bachelor of Science - Israel Institute of Technology (1991)

Fellowships and Memberships

  • Member, New Zealand Mathematical Society (Fellow) (2016)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Dynamical systems.

Mathematical modelling.

Numerical methods.

Regulation and function of the cardio-respiratory system.


Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Applied Mathematics (010200): Biological Mathematics (010202): Dynamical Systems in Applications (010204): Mathematical Sciences (010000): Numerical and Computational Mathematics (010300)


Mathematical Biology and Modelling

Applied Mathematics

Industrial Mathematics

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 2 3
Team Member 0 1

Completed Projects

Project Title: Complexity reduction in neural models

Mathematical models of biological systems provide understanding and predictive power. However, as more information about a particular system is collected, its model becomes increasingly complicated. This makes the models better, because they are becoming more realistic and therefore potentially more useful, but in turn they are becoming harder to simulate and analyse. The aim of this research is to overcome this problem by using recently-developed, so-called 'equation-free' techniques for the study of complex systems, concentrating on a variety of model neural networks. In particular we will study the respiratory neural system. This complex system regulates breathing by sending electrical signals to the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles, causing them to periodically contract and relax. Equation-free techniques allow one to automatically simplify a complex system such as the respiratory neural network by using judiciously designed computer simulations to capture the 'essence' of the original complex system in terms of the correct variables. This provides insights and understanding that cannot be found in any other way.
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Date Range: 2009 - 2012

Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full

Project Team:

Project Title: A mechanism for Chayne-Stokes respiration

Date Range: 2006 - 2008

Funding Body: Royal Society of New Zealand

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

Papers taught recently:

160.203 Calculus.

160.319 Mathematical Modelling.

160.715 Advanced Computational Methods.

Courses Coordinated

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 1 1
Co-supervisor 1 0

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Shumaila Noreen - Doctor of Philosophy
    The effect of Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia on coronary blood flow and cardiac output

Co-supervisor of:

  • Neelum Bashir - Doctor of Philosophy
    Computational Studies in the Planar Symmetric Few-Body Problem

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Syed Zaidi - Doctor of Philosophy

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