caleb  phillips photoCaleb Phillips, a computational engineering undergraduate major in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, is one of two students selected to receive the ICES (Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences) 2017 Graham Carey Scholarship for computational science. 

Biomedical engineering professor Thomas Yankeelov nominated Phillips for the $2,500 scholarship after Phillips spent a summer interning at the Computational Center for Oncology where he developed a computational model of avascular tumor growth to compensate angiogenesis, which more accurately simulates tumors interacting with protein cells and blood vessels than previous models.

In order to display change in the tumor, Phillips’ project uses a continuum model to simulate the delivery of nutrients and growth factors while an agent-based model mimics the dynamics and phenotypic transition of cancer and endothelial cells.

Collaborating with a post-doctoral research student and creating the 2,360 lines of C++ code over the course of a summer was no small task, and now Phillips is working with experimentalists at the Computational Center for Oncology who are comparing the in vitro lab work to Phillips’ model. The goal of his research is to use the mathematical models to push cancer treatment in a more efficient direction than it is now.

“Right now ‘state of the art’ is just using clinical trials to give the best possible treatment options to cancer patients.” Phillips said. “If we can couple experimental data and imaging data from patients and we can combine them with these mathematical models, we can actually pick which treatment options would be best for each individual patient, and that would be an enormous improvement.”

Phillips decided to apply his studies specifically to cancer research because he wants to contribute to a project that will make a significant difference in other people’s lives.

“A lot of courses that you take, especially in mathematics, you are given problem that really means nothing,” Phillips said. “But in this case, everything we use in our equations has a real physical meaning to it. I thought first and foremost, that was interesting, that math actually governed a real system and actually meant something.”

Besides contributing to cancer research, Phillips has contributed to developing a learning environment for his peer students by co-founding  the Computational Engineering Association at the UT Austin. In his free time, Phillips enjoys playing disc-golf and spending time with his wife.

The Graham F. Carey Computational Science Scholarship was created to acknowledge the important work of Professor Graham F. Carey in the computational sciences. The scholarship is awarded annually and honors the highly regarded Dr. Carey who was formerly a professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics, director of the ICES Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and holder of the Richard B. Curran Chair in Engineering.