Russel lecturer to discuss impact of connected networks


University of Michigan physics and complex systems professor Mark E. Newman has spent decades studying the ways in which different networks form and share information.

 Newman will discuss these topics during the 98th Henry Russel Lecture from 4-5:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Michigan Union Ballroom.

Mark Newman
Mark Newman

The Henry Russel Lectureship is the university’s highest honor for senior members of its active faculty. It is awarded annually to a faculty member with exceptional achievement in research, scholarship or creative endeavors, as well as an outstanding record of distinguished teaching, mentoring and service to U-M and the wider community.

Four other faculty members will receive Henry Russel Awards, the university’s highest honor for early to mid-career faculty, at the event. They are:

  • Andrej Lenert, associate professor of chemical engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Alexandra Rosati, associate professor of psychology and anthropology, LSA.
  • Kira Thurman, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures, associate professor of history, LSA; associate professor of musicology, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
  • Liuyan Zhao, associate professor of physics, LSA.

Newman is the Anatol Rapoport Distinguished University Professor of Physics, and professor of physics and of complex systems in LSA. His lecture is titled “The Connected World: Information, Epidemics, and the Networks That Link Us Together.”

An internationally recognized physicist in the field of statistical physics, Newman was among the first to recognize the importance of network structure in determining the behavior of complex systems, and to understand how theoretical methods of statistical physics could be adapted to network science.

He helped found the field of modern network science in the late 1990s, a field that is now among the most active areas of complex systems and interdisciplinary physics research.

His work brings the mathematical methods of physics to the study of computer networks, biological networks and social networks, shedding light on the patterns of connection between people and things throughout our world.

During his lecture, Newman will further explore these networks, focusing on the ways information and diseases spread through networks of contact between individuals.

“There are networks in every part of our lives: the Internet, the power grid, friendship networks, ecological networks, transportation networks and many others,” Newman wrote about the topic of his upcoming lecture. “As large-scale data on these networks has become available in recent years, a new science of networks has grown up to shed light on systems ranging from bacteria to the whole of human society.”

Newman has published 180 refereed papers in leading journals. His early papers made fundamental contributions to topics including random graph models, network robustness, assortative mixing, community detection and search algorithms, and have secured classic status in the field.

His 2003 paper on the structure and function of complex networks was the single-most-highly cited paper for a decade in all of mathematics. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics.

Newman received his Bachelor of Arts degree and Ph.D. in physics at the University of Oxford. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University in 1991, and in 1996 was appointed a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, where in 1998 he was appointed research professor.

He joined U-M in 2002 as assistant professor of physics, and was promoted to associate professor of physics in 2005 and to professor of physics in 2008.


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.