nic geard

Senior Lecturer, School of Computing and Information Systems, Melbourne School of Engineering

Senior Fellow (Honorary), The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

The University of Melbourne

Phone: +61 3 9035 6216


Office: Room 6.18, Doug McDonell Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 3010, Australia

Research Activities

My current research interests are focused on computational—typically individual-based—models of the transmission and control of infectious diseases such as influenza, whooping cough and Ebola. I'm particularly interested in how rich computational models can capture the influence of demographic, behavioural and pathogenic heterogeneity on the spread of diseases, and the implications this heterogeneity has for how we try to control them.

I am currently a CI on a National Health & Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence on Policy-Relevant Infectious Disease Simulation and Mathematical Modelling.

More broadly, I am interested in the application of computational simulation models to the study of complex biological, social and artificial systems in general. Past areas of research interest have included the structure and dynamics of gene regulatory networks, the interplay between developmental and evolutionary processes, and the co-evolution of state and topology in dynamic networks.


I am currently a Senior Lecturer (equiv US Assistant Professor) with the School of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne.

I was previously an ARC DECRA Fellow with the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, where I began to develop and apply computational models of infectious disease transmission and control. Before arriving in Melbourne, I worked with Seth Bullock in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, focusing on the dynamocs of social networks. I obtained my BSc (2001) and PhD (2006) in computer science at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland. My PhD, on the evolution of gene regulatory networks, was supervised by Janet Wiles.

Other Activities

Prior to arriving in Melbourne, I spent a few months on a bike.



Chisholm R, Sonenberg N, Lacey JA, McDonald MI, Pandey M, Davies MR, Tong SYC, McVernon J, Geard N. Epidemiological consequences of enduring strain-specific immunity requiring repeated episodes of infection.

Campbell PT, Tong SYC, Geard N, Davies MR, Worthing KA, Lacey JA, Smeesters PR, Batzloff MR, Kado J, Jenney AWJ, McVernon J, Steer AC. Longitudinal analysis of group A Streptococcus emm types and emm clusters in a high prevalence setting reveals past infection does not prevent future infection.

Ragonnet R, Trauer JM, Geard N, Scott N, McBryde, ES. Profiling Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission and the resulting disease burden in the five highest tuberculosis burden countries: a modelling study.

Chisholm R, Lacey JA, Campbell PT, McDonald MI, Corander J, Davies MR, Tong SYC, McVernon, Geard N. Unravelling the within-host dynamics of group A Streptococcus from population-level observations of prevalence and strain diversity.

journal articles

Cuningham W, Geard N, Fielding J, Braat S, ..., McVernon J, Moss R (2019) Optimal timing of influenza vaccination during pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses (available online 5 June 2019).

Xu Z, Graves PM, Lau C, Clements A, Geard N, Glass K (2019) GEOFIL: A spatially-explicit agent-based modelling framework for predicting the long-term transmission dynamics of lymphatic filariasis in American Samoa. Epidemics 27:19-27.

Moss R, Naghizade E, Tomko M, Geard N (2019) What can urban mobility data reveal about the spatial distribution of infection in a single city? BMC Public Health 19:656.

Dias A, Geard N, Campbell PT, Warr D, McVernon J (2018) Quantity or quality? Assessing relationships between perceived social connectedness and recorded encounters. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0208083.

Campbell PT, Frost H, Smeesters PR, Kado J, Good MF, Batzloff MR, Geard N, McVernon J, Steer AC (2018) Investigation of group A Streptococcus immune responses in an endemic setting, with a particular focus on J8. Vaccine 36(50):7618-7624.

Chisholm RH, Campbell PT, Wu Y, Tong SYC, McVernon J, Geard N (2018) Implications of asymptomatic carriers for infectious disease transmission and control. Royal Society Open Science 5:172341.

Xu Z, Glass K, Lau C, Geard N, Graves PM, Clements A (2017) A synthetic population for modelling the dynamics of infectious disease transmission in American Samoa. Scientific Reports 7:16725.

Vino T, Singh GR, Davison B, Campbell PT, Lydeamore M, Robinson A, McVernon J, Tong SYC, Geard N (2017) Indigenous Australian household structure: a simple data collection tool and implications for close contact transmission of communicable diseases. PeerJ 5:e3958.

Campbell PT, McVernon J, Shrestha N, Nathan PM, Geard N (2017) Who's holding the baby? A prospective diary study of the contact patterns of mothers with an infant. BMC Infectious Diseases 17:634.

Campbell PT, McVernon J, Geard N (2017) Determining best strategies for maternally-targeted pertussis vaccination using an individual based model. American Journal of Epidemiology 186 (1):109-117.

Black AJ, Geard N, McCaw JM, McVernon J, Ross JV (2017) Characterising pandemic severity and transmissibility from data collected during first few hundred studies. Epidemics 19:61-73.

Campbell PT, McVernon J, McIntyre P, Geard N (2016) Influence of population demography and immunization history on the impact of an antenatal pertussis program. Clinical Infectious Diseases 63 (suppl 4):S213-S220.

Moss R, Hickson R, Hort K, Black J, McCaw JM, Tran N, McVernon J, Madden J, McBryde ES, Geard N (2016) Model-informed risk assessment and decision making for an emerging infectious disease in the Asia-Pacific region. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10(9):e0005018.

Rolls D*, Geard N*, Warr DJ, Nathan PM, Robins GL, Pattison PE, McCaw JM, McVernon J (2015) Social encounter profiles of greater Melbourne residents, by location – a telephone survey. BMC Infectious Diseases 15:494. (* equal contribution)

Ragonnet R, Trauer JM, Denholm JT, Geard N, Hellard M, McBryde ES (2015) Vaccination programs for endemic infections: modelling real versus apparent impacts of vaccine and infection characteristics. Scientific Reports 5:15468.

Geard N, Glass K, McCaw JM, McBryde E, Korb, K, Keeling MJ, McVernon J (2015) The effects of demographic change on disease transmission and vaccine impact in a household structured population. Epidemics 13:56-64.

Dorin A, Geard N (2014) The practice of agent-based model visualisation. Artificial Life 20(2): 271-289.

Geard N, McCaw J, Dorin A, Korb KB, McVernon J (2013) Synthetic population dynamics: a model of household demography. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 16(1):8.

Jacyno M, Bullock S, Geard N, Payne TR, Luck M (2013) Self-organising agent communities for autonomic resource management. Adaptive Behavior 21(1):3-28.

Geard N, Bullock S, Lohaus R, Azevedo RBR, Wiles J (2011) Developmental motifs reveal complex structure in cell lineages. Complexity 16(4):48-57.

Bryden J*, Funk S*, Geard N*, Bullock S, Jansen V (2011) Stability in flux: Community structure in dynamic networks. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 8(60):1031-1040. (* equal contribution)

Geard N, Bullock S (2010) Competition and the dynamics of group affiliation. Advances in Complex Systems 13(4):501-517.

Bullock S, Geard N (2011) Spatial embedding as an enabling constraint. Complexity 16(2):8-10.

Geard N, Willadsen K (2009) Dynamical approaches to modeling developmental gene regulatory networks. Birth Defects Research C: Embryo Today 87(2):131-142.

Geard N, Wiles J (2008) LinMap: visualising complexity gradients in evolutionary landscapes. Artificial Life 14(3):277-297.

Lohaus R, Geard N, Wiles J, Azevedo RBR (2007) A generative bias towards average complexity in artificial cell lineages. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 274(1619):1741-1750.

Geard N, Wiles J (2005) A gene network model for developing cell lineages. Artificial Life 11(3):249-268.

Copren KA, Geard N (2005) An individual based model examining the emergence of cooperative recognition in a social insect. Sociobiology 46(2):349-361.

Watson J, Geard N, Wiles J (2004) Towards more biological mutation operators in gene regulation studies. BioSystems 76(1-3):239-248.

full conference papers

Silverman E, Geard N, Wood I. (2016) Job insecurity in academic research employment: an agent-based model. In: ALIFE XV: The 15th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, 4-8 July, 2016, Cancún, Mexico.

Geard, N, Madden, JR, McBryde, E, Moss, R and Tran, NH (2016) Modelling the economic impacts of epidemics in developing countries under alternative intervention strategies. In: 19th Annual Conference on Global Economic Analysis, June 15-17, 2016, Washington DC.

Geard N, McCaw J, Dorin A, Korb KB, McVernon J (2012) Modelling household dynamics for epidemiological simulation. In: 4th World Congress on Social Simulation, 4-7 September, 2012, Taipei, Taiwan.

Geard N, Noble J (2010) Modelling academic research funding as a resource allocation problem. In: 3rd World Congress on Social Simulation, 6-9 September, 2010, Kassel, Germany.

Geard N, Bullock S (2009) Homophily and competition: a model of group affiliation. In: The Sixth Conference of the European Social Simulation Association, 14-18 September, 2009, Guildford, UK.

Jacyno M, Bullock S, Payne TR, Geard N, Luck M (2008) Autonomic resource management through self-organising agent communities. In: Second IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems, October 20-24, 2008, Venice, Italy.

Geard N, Bullock S (2008) Group formation and social evolution: a computational model. In: Artificial Life XI: Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, pp. 197-203, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Geard N, Wiles J (2007) Directed evolution of an artificial cell lineage. In: Progress in Artificial Life, Third Australian Conference, ACAL 2007, Proceedings, pp. 144-155, Springer-Verlag.

Geard N, Bullock S (2007) Milieu and function: toward a multilayer framework for understanding social networks. In: the Ninth European Conference on Artificial Life; Workshop: The Emergence of Social Behaviour, Lisbon, Portugal.

Geard N, Wiles J (2006) Investigating ontogenetic space with developmental cell lineages. In: Artificial Life X: Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, pp. 55-62, MIT Press.

Rudge T, Geard N (2005) Evolving gene regulatory networks for cellular morphogenesis. In: Recent Advances in Artificial Life, Second Australian Conference, ACAL 2005, Proceedings, pp. 239-252, World Scientific Publishing.

Geard N, Willadsen K, Wiles J (2005) Perturbation analysis: a complex systems pattern. In: Recent Advances in Artificial Life, Second Australian Conference, ACAL 2005, Proceedings, pp. 69-84, World Scientific Publishing.

Skellett B, Cairns B, Geard N, Tonkes B, Wiles J (2005) Rugged NK landscapes contain the highest peaks. In: Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2005, Proceedings, pp. 579-584, ACM Press.

Wiles J, Geard N, Watson J, Willadsen K, Mattick J, Bradley D, Hallinan J (2005) There's more to a model than code: understanding and formalizing in silico modeling experience. In: Workshop on Scalable, Evolvable, Emergent Design and Developmental Systems at The Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2005, Washington DC, USA. pp. 281-288.

Geard N, Wiles J (2003) A gene regulatory network for cell differentiation in Caenorhabditis elegans. In: Proceedings of the First Australian Conference on Artificial Life, pp. 86-100, University of New South Wales.

Geard N, Wiles J (2003) Structure and dynamics of a gene network model incorporating small RNAs. In: Proceedings of the 2003 Congress on Evolutionary Computation, CEC 2003, Volume 1, pp. 199-206, IEEE Press.

Watson J, Geard N, Wiles J (2003) Towards more biological mutation operators in gene regulation studies. In: Information Processing in Cells and Tissues (IPCAT2003), Lausanne, Switzerland.

Geard N, Wiles J, Hallinan J, Tonkes B, Skellett B (2002) A comparison of neutral landscapes - NK, NKp and NKq. In: Proceedings of the 2002 Congress on Evolutionary Computation, pp. 205-210, IEEE Press.

Geard N, Wiles J (2002) Diversity maintenance on neutral landscapes: an argument for recombination. In: Proceedings of the 2002 Congress on Evolutionary Computation, pp. 211-213, IEEE Press.

Watson J, Geard N, Wiles J (2002) Stability and task complexity: a neural network model of genetic assimilation. In: Artificial Life VIII: Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Artificial Life, p. 153, MIT Press.

book chapters

Korb KB, Geard N, Dorin A (2013) A Bayesian approach to the validation of agent-based models. In: A. Tolk (Ed.) Ontology, Epistemology, and Teleology for Modeling and Simulation, pp. 255-269, Springer.

miscellanea: reviews, reports and theses

Geard N (2010) Book review of Thilo Gross and Hiroki Sayama's "Adaptive Networks: Theory, Models and Applications". Artificial Life, 16(4):329-331.

Geard N (2006) Artificial Ontogenies: A Computational Model of the Control and Evolution of Development. PhD thesis, The University of Queensland.

Geard N (2006) Two design patterns for visualising the parameter space of complex systems. Technical Report ACCS-TR-06-02, ARC Centre for Complex Systems, The University of Queensland.

Geard N (2004) Modelling gene regulatory networks: systems biology to complex systems. Technical Report ACCS-TR-04-01, School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, The University of Queensland.

Fischer W, Geard N (2002) Reconstructing phylogeny from RNA secondary structure via simulated evolution. In: Santa Fe Institute Complex Systems Summer School 2002, June 2002, Santa Fe, NM.

Geard N (2001) An Exploration of NK Landscapes with Neutrality. BSc (Hons) thesis, The University of Queensland.