Professor Sharples is a mathematical scientist and internationally recognised expert in dynamic bushfire behaviour and extreme bushfire development. He currently leads several Australian Research Council (ARC) and Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) projects and is involved in international wildfire research projects. These projects consider various aspects of extreme and dynamic bushfire propagation, the development of large conflagrations and bushfire risk management. His expertise is particularly relevant because of the large gap between the predictions of current mathematical models of fire behaviour and actual fire behaviour, and because of the increasing prevalence of extreme wildfires due to climate change.
He is Director of the UNSW Bushfire Research Group which aims to improve understanding of the fundamental processes that drive extreme bushfire development and their relation to firefighter and community safety.
Professor Sharples was an expert witness in the 2014 Coronial Inquiry into the Wambelong Campground bushfire, the NSW Independent Inquiry into the 2019/20 bushfires and the 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. He is a key contributor to the international dialogue around wildfire modelling and risk management. His research has been adopted in national firefighter training materials and into the operational procedures of bushfire management agencies such as the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Professor Sharples is also an active member of the ACT Rural Fire Service.