Until 1995 Rand's primary research field was dynamical systems for which he was awarded the London Mathematical Society's Whitehead Prize. During this period with his collaborators he discovered and characterised modulated waves in fluids, provided the topological classification of unimodal maps, discovered the fine-scale structure of the universal transition from quasi-periodic dynamics to chaotic behaviour in dissipative systems, and created a rigorous formulation of the thermodynamic formalism for multifractals.
Since then he has been working at the interface between mathematics and biology and this work has been recognized by the award in 2005 of a prestigious EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship. In particular, in earlier work he has contributed to the study of spatial systems in ecology, epidemiology and evolutionary theory and has developed new mathematical approaches, such as pair approximations, to develop tractable mathematical models. More recently he has developed substantial systems biology programmes in areas such as circadian rhythms (with Andrew Millar, Edinburgh and Isabelle Carre, Warwick), NF-kappaB signaling (with Mike White, Manchester), cancer chronobiology (with Frances Levi, Franck Delaunay, Bert van der Horst and Albert Goldbeter, INSERM, Nice, Erasmus and Brussels), prolactin transcription (with Julian Davis and Mike White, Manchester) and plant stress (with Jim Beynon, Warwick). He has developed a range of mathematical tools for the analysis of complex network systems and for experimental optimization, and, with Bärbel Finkenstädt (Statistics, Warwick), he has developed new statistical techniques for the analysis of transcriptional and other molecular data. He is now a fully committed systems biologist with a substantial portfolio of grant-funded projects combining theoretical and experimental research. His work has been primarily funded by EPSRC, BBSRC, the EU and the Wellcome Trust and currently he is funded by EPSRC and CRUK.
For six years until 2006 he was Chair of Warwick's Mathematics Institute. Previously Rand had led the development of Applied Mathematics at Warwick and took it from almost nothing in the early 80s to its present strength. He instigated Warwick's mathematical interdisciplinary programme MIR@W from which many of Warwick’s successful interdisciplinary initiatives have emerged. More recently he led the creation of Warwick’s Systems Biology Centre and helped guide it to its present position as one of the UK’s leading centres. With Alison Rodger and Colin Robinson he led the creation of the first two of Warwick’s research council funded doctoral training centres and has been intimately involved in a further four including the current EPSRC CDT MathSys. He has served on numerous national and international committees and advisory bodies.