Paul Macklin, associate professor of Intelligent Systems Engineering at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, will receive the Society for Mathematical Biology’s 2023 John Jungck Prize for Excellence in Education.
The Jungck Prize is awarded every two years to a member of the mathematical biology community who demonstrates significant contributions to education in mathematic biology. That includes exceptional classroom instruction, mentorship of research scientists, development of new and exciting educational methods, promoting scientific outreach efforts to the public or to youth, creating an environment exceptionally conducive to mathematical biology education, and a track record of attracting new students to mathematical biology.
“Paul is known for pursuing innovative research that elevates the understanding of what is possible, and for his ability to motivate and inspire students to do the same,” said Martin Swany, chair of ISE. “He is uniquely positioned as a leader in next-generation technological improvements that will change our world. We are lucky to have him as a faculty member.”
Macklin holds a B.A. in mathematics and German from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an M.S. in industrial and applied mathematics from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in computational and applied mathematics from the University of California-Irvine. He’s the director of the Math Cancer Lab, which develops data-driven computational systems that help engineer the behavior of multicellular systems, including in cancer and human tissue. His PhysiCell simulation software helps create patient-calibrated mathematical models that help improve clinical care. He joined the Luddy faculty in 2017.
Winning the Jungck Prize, Macklin said, “Is an opportunity to push back against the false dichotomy between teaching and research.”
“Scientists can integrate undergraduate students into their main research programs to foster their education, while also giving graduate students and postdocs an opportunity to learn team management skills.
“We have seen that talented students bring new insights and ideas that help drive surprising directions and supercharge research.”
The awards committee praised Macklin’s development of educational tools to inspire young mathematicians and computer scientists, plus his ability to educate scientists on computational modeling in mathematical biology. He has made significant contributions to the education and promotion of research to merge science, technology and people.
Dr. Heiko Enderling, Society of Mathematical Biology president, wrote that, “I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of this award.”
Macklin’s inspiration has had life-changing impact on students. That includes Adrianne Jenner, then a Ph.D. student at the University of Sydney. Macklin mentored her during a Society for Mathematical Biology meeting.
“We discussed her agent-based modeling of cancer and oncolytic virus therapies. She left with some new ideas to push her research forward.”
Jenner later spent several months at Indiana University and published a paper with Macklin. She became a key figure in developing a mathematical model of Covid-19 and is now a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
“She’s one of the strongest mathematical biologists of her generation,” Macklin says. “I’m proud to have been a part of her journey.”
The Jungck Prize comes with a certificate, a cash prize of $500 and an opportunity to give a keynote talk at the Society of Mathematical Biology’s 2023 annual meeting.
Macklin said educating students in computational modeling in mathematical biology is crucial to further transformational research.
“Mathematical models are virtual laboratories to test new ideas and screen hypotheses. When used in the classroom, these tools help drive new systems thinking in our students, to get them to reach beyond reductionist biology of how individual cells act, and to understand how they act together.
“My work is increasingly focused on this crossroads between education, computer science, and mathematics.”