Paul K. Newton

Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award

Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Professor of Mathematics
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Collection of work on mathematical models to simulate the metastasis of cancerous cells

Paul K. Newton’s work is substantial from a mathematical point of view, and is important in the fight against cancer, one of the most serious health issues of our time. He has cleverly connected his research with the so-called prisoner’s dilemma from evolutionary game theory, proposing a framework wherein healthy and cancerous cells compete with one another. His innovative mathematical model also accommodates well-known information about the growth rates of tumors, which tend to change as they grow.

Professor Newton’s research encompasses concepts from computer science and mathematics, including birth and death processes, Markov chains, Gompertz growth curves, game theory, information theory, and heavy numerical simulations. This rigorous, descriptive, and flexible mathematical approach to forecasting metastatic cancer promises to provide an important tool in managing and treating such illnesses, as the case has been made in work on lung and breast cancers by Professor Newton and his colleagues. His approach is novel and creative, and fosters breakthroughs in this highly important area in large part because of its multidisciplinary nature.

Such cross-pollination between the mathematics community and the medical community is impressive, and the work presented by Professor Newton represents a major leap forward. Since coming to USC from the University of Illinois more than two decades ago, he has demonstrated remarkable talents for collaboration and mentorship. His excellent reputation as a scholar has also led to visiting appointments at other prestigious institutions, such as Caltech, Brown University, and the Scripps Research Institute.

For his impressive interdisciplinary scholarship and its continued advancement of cancer research, Phi Kappa Phi is pleased to present its Faculty Recognition Award to Paul K. Newton.