School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Matthew Wade

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow



I am currently in the return phase of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, having spent 2 years at McMaster University, Canada with Prof. Gail Wolkowicz at the Department of Mathematics & Statistics: 

DRAMATIC: Development of Relevant Approaches to Mathematically Model Increasingly Complex Microbially-driven Processes”.

My background is in Environmental Engineering with specific focus on wastewater treatment systems, MBR technology and anaerobic digestion/biogas. However, I have experience in a range of disciplines such as mathematical modelling, process monitoring and control, chemometrics, bioinformatics, and computing/software. 

I have 4 years experience in implementing and managing European funded research projects, specifically in the environmental field at an international level (Biogas in Europe, Membrane bioreactors in the MENA region, Ballast Water Treatment, Sustainable Textile/Tannery processes in Pakistan). 

I previously worked on the BBSRC sLOLA project: Engineering synthetic microbial communities for biomethane production, adLola. The work involved developing a mechanistic understanding of anaerobic digestion processes through mathematical modelling to analyse the inherent stability and performance constraints of simple microbial ecologies. I also spent eight months prior to my Fellowship on the EPSRC funded NUFEB (Frontiers in Engineering Biology) project, where I was part of a collaborative team  developing scalable individual-based models incorporating biology, chemistry, physical and hydrodynamic behaviours for application to a range of systems including biofilms, flocs, and anaerobic digestion. 

I have also been active as a bioinformatician for the Environmental Engineering group, a role that variously utilises and integrates the disciplines of computing, informatics/statistics and microbiology.

Areas of expertise: mathematical biology, mathematical modelling, anaerobic digestion


B.Eng. Environmental & Ecological Engineering, Newcastle University, 1998

M.Sc. Environmental Engineering, Newcastle University, 2000

Ph.D. Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 2004

Previous Positions

2016-2017: Research Associate (EPSRC NUFEB), School of Biology, Newcastle University

2013-2016: Research Associate (BBSRC sLoLa), School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Newcastle University

2011-2013: Bioinformatician, School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Newcastle University

2010-2011: Research Associate, School of Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials, Newcastle University

2006-2010: Project Manager, Environmental Dept., ttz-Bremerhaven, Germany

2005-2006: Biochemometrician, Institute of Grassland & Environmental Research, North Wyke, Devon

2004-2005: Research Fellow, Centre for Process Analytics & Control Technology, University of Strathclyde

Programming and Scientific Computing Skills

Languages & Software: MATLAB, Simulink, Maple, QIIME, C , R, Python, LABView, XPP/AUTO, PSpice

Systems & Architecture: CONDOR (Grid computing), Virtual Machines (CloVR), Amazon EC2 (Cloud computing)

Google Scholar: Click here.


Current Activities

As part of my ongoing Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship, I am currently undertaking a number of research activities including:

  • Analysis of emerging oscillatory behaviour in a simplified ecological model describing an anaerobic microbial process. We wish to prove that a Hopf bifurcation occurs exclusively within the interior equilibrium. With Prof. Gail Wolkowicz and Szymon Sobieszek (McMaster University)
  • Development of a rigorous mathematical model of the acetogenesis/methanogenesis sub-system of anaerobic digestion, including metabolic switching and linking thermodynamic regulation of growth functions. With Prof. Orkun Soyer (Warwick University), Prof. Isaac Klapper (Temple University), Dr. Tianyu Zhang (Montana State Uni.)
  • Development of a 1D PDE/ODE model describing a hybrid MBBR for Partial Nitritation and Anammox (PN/A). The model describes the evolution of a 1D biofilm model as a moving boundary value problem, coupled to a system of ODEs describing the behaviour of the planktonic species in the bulk liquid phase. With Prof. Hermann Eberl (Uni. Guelph), Dr. Alex Rosenthal (Northwestern Uni.)
  • Development and mathematical study of a 0D impulsive system of the hybrid MBBR with state-dependent impulses. With Prof. Gail Wolkowicz and Tyler Meadows (McMaster University), Dr. Kris Villez (EAWAG), Dr. Michele Laureni (Uni. Delft)
  • Development of a toy model describing the resource competition between canonical nitrifiers (AOB -> NOB) and recently discovered oligotrophic complete ammonia oxidisers (Commamox). The model will be a test case to explore the putative evolutionary invasion traits of Commamox using an adaptive dynamics approach. With Dr. Christina Cobbold (Uni. Glasgow)

Previous Work 

I was involved in the mathematical modelling of anaerobic digestion processes in the framework of the BBSRC sLOLA funded project "Engineering synthetic microbial communities for biomethane production".

The work involved the development and analysis of simplified ODE type mathematical models of sub-processes (or motifs) describing microbial interactions in an anaerobic context. These motifs describe typical ecological phenomena at the microbial level, such as syntrophy, competition, and mutualism. 

The stability of these systems are elucidated by solving the models analytically and describing their general character in relation to the parameters of the system. However, for increasingly complex models with three or more organisms, numerical analysis is required and only local stability may be adequately described for some steady-states. Nevertheless, this provides the opportunity observe emergent properties of the system given perturbations in the operational conditions, or from a synthetic biology perspective, to understand the importance of the microbes themselves in determining process behaviour.

Coupling this analysis with parameter sensitivity studies, and linking information gained from modern molecular techniques and metabolic modelling work, it is anticipated that the performance of anaerobic digestion processes can be tailored based on a greater understanding of the microbial community.

Esteem Indicators

Invited speaker at MODEMIC-INRA, Montpellier, France, 2015 - Biomethane Community Modelling: Understanding the dynamics, stability and sensitivity of anaerobic digestion.

Invited speaker at "Microbial Ecology and Mathematical Modelling" Bernouilli Workshop, CIB/EPFL, Lausanne, 2014.

Invited speaker at Newcastle University-Shell Symposium, Newcastle, 2013 - Bioinformatics; making sense of hyperdiverse microbial systems.

Contributed to the Indo-UK Bioinformatics Workshop, India Institute of Technology, Delhi, 2012

Invited speaker at SWIG - Sensors for Anaerobic Digestion, Burnley, 2012 - Analysing anaerobic digestion processes with high-throughput sequencing

Invited speaker at The Spring AD Research & Development Forum, York, 2012 - Delving deeper: next generation insights into anaerobic digestion

Invited speaker at 2nd Annual Analytical Spectroscopy and Environmental Monitoring Workshop, Aberystwyth, 2005 - Development of MATLAB Graphical User Interfaces as Generic Tools for Data Analysis at IGER

Invited speaker at CPACT Theme 1 Meeting (Monitoring of Chemical Processes), Glasgow, 2004 - On-line Batch Reactor Monitoring & Control Using Process Analytical Measurements

Invited speaker at Advanced Control Technology Club Event (Profiting from Improved Efficiency in the Process Industries), BP, Grangemouth, 2003 - Improving Plant Efficiency in the Wastewater Industry

Invited speaker at 22nd Advanced Control Technology Club Plenary Meeting (Data Driven Modelling and System Identification), Glasgow, 2003 - Data Analysis and Knowledge Recovery Using Principal Component Analysis

4th Asian Control Conference, Singapore (2002): Session Chair (PID Control) & Session Co-Chair (Process & Chemical Systems I)

Publication reviewer for Emerald Engineering Publishing (2007-Present)

Publication reviewer for Bioresource Technology, Biochemical Engineering Journal and the IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks

Project Activities

EPSRC: NUFEB - Newcastle University Frontiers in Engineering Biology (Current). Website

Newcastle University Institute of Sustainability Responsive Mode: EXPAND - Exploring the global dynamics of anaerobic digestion processes (2014-2015). (Project Leader).

BBSRC sLOLA: Engineering synthetic microbial communities for biomethane production (2013-2017).

Marie Curie Network Project: AD-WINE (2011-2015). High performance anaerobic digesters for the treatment of medium sized wineries effluents. Website.

WRAP - Driving Innovation in Anaerobic Digestion (Optimisation): A rapid and low-cost method for assessing AD plant health through identification of functional microbial communities (2012) (Project Leader).

TSB: Advanced Secondary Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (2010-2011). Process modelling, monitoring and control of continuous tablet manufacture. 

EC SWITCH-Asia Project: SCI-Pak (2009-2011). Sustainable and Cleaner Production in the Manufacturing Industries of Pakistan. (Project Leader).

Intelligent Energy Europe: Farmagas (2009-2011). Biogas Production from Agricultural Wastes in European Farms. 

EC 7th Framework Project: NanoBak (2009-2011). Modelling and simulation tasks for a novel climatic chamber with an Innovative, energy saving Nano-Aerosol Humidification system for the manufacture of high quality Bakery products. 

EC 6th Framework Project: AGROBIOGAS (2006-2009). An integrated approach to biogas production with agricultural waste (Scientific Coordinator). 

EC 6th Framework Project: BaWaPla (2006-2009). Sustainable Ballast Water Management Plant (Project Coordinator).

EC 6th Framework Project: PURATREAT (2006-2008). New energy efficient approach to the operation of Membrane Bioreactors for Decentralised Wastewater Treatment (Project Coordinator). 

EC COST Action 624 "Optimal Management of Wastewater Systems" – Working Group No. 1 "Plant Operation" (2002-2003) 

EC 5th Framework Project: Smart Control of Wastewater Treatment Systems (SMAC) (2001-2004).

Awards & Certificates

Integrated Urban Water Quality Management certificate, Technical University of Denmark (2002)

The Metal Industry Committee of the Industry Applications Society Certificate of Appreciation (2003) 

Asia Pro-Eco e-course on "Capacity Building for Ecological Sanitation in India" certificate, International Ecological Engineering Society (2007)

Other Expertise and Interests

Anaerobic Digestion (from microbiology to process)

Data Mining

Process monitoring and control

Process Modelling

Multivariate Statistics

Wastewater Treatment Systems


Postgraduate Teaching

Engineering Biology through Molecular Microbial Ecology CPD short course (Module CME8109), 2011-2015. More information

Partnership in Automation and Control Training (PACT) Integrated Graduate Development Scheme: Mathematics & Matlab (Module CME836), 2010-2014.

Implementation of Mathematical Techniques to Bioprocess Systems, (EngD Module CME8517), 2010-2013.