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COLLEGE STATION --

Dr. Helmut G. Katzgraber, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M University, has been selected to receive a 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in support of his research on quantum computing and the study of disordered systems.

Katzgraber's project, "Designing Quantum Computers and Understanding Glassy Systems Using Numerical Simulations and Statistical Mechanics," has been funded through the Division of Materials Research in the projected total amount of $475,000 through May 2017. His work capitalizes on the fact that computational physics has become a powerful new tool in addition to experiment and theory to tackle problems in physics, thanks to the advent of fast, cost-effective computers and the development of efficient algorithms.

Katzgraber's is one of 11 CAREER awards announced thus far in 2012 across the overall Texas A&M campus, which currently boasts six in the Dwight Look College of Engineering, three in the College of Science (Katzgraber's as well as one each to Dr. Grigoris Paouris in the Department of Mathematics and to Dr. Wenshe Liu in the Department of Chemistry), one in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and one in the Texas A&M University Health Science Center.

"The CAREER program offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards for faculty members beginning their independent careers," said Dr. George R. Welch, professor and head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "Faculty being considered are expected to exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research. CAREER grants are reviewed very thoroughly at NSF, usually with at least five reviewers, before a recommendation of an award is made. They are incredibly competitive, and only the best proposals get funded. This award really underscores the significance of Helmut's work, and brings prestige to him and our department."

Katzgraber's work focuses on numerical studies of disordered and complex systems. Due to their disorder, these systems generally are extremely difficult to solve and therefore classified as "NP hard problems," meaning that the time it takes to solve these systems on the computer increases exponentially with the size of the problem.

Overall Katzgraber hopes his research, which bridges interdisciplinary areas spanning computer science, quantum information theory and statistical mechanics, will result in the development of stable quantum computing implementations that massively surpass current computer technologies. He says a better understanding of their error tolerance and a deeper grasp of their limitations would represent an important step toward stable desktop devices.

A native of Lima, Peru and a member of the Texas A&M faculty since 2009, Katzgraber received a diploma in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (1997) before earning both his master's of science (1998) and doctorate in physics (2001) from the University of California at Santa Cruz. After a one-year postdoctoral stint at the University of California at Davis, he returned to ETH Zurich for postdoctoral studies at the Institute for Theoretical Physics. He then served as an assistant professor at ETH Zurich prior to coming to Texas A&M.

NSF established the CAREER program to support junior faculty within the context of their overall career development, combining in a single program the support of research and education of the highest quality and in the broadest sense.

Through this program, the NSF emphasizes the importance on the early development of academic careers dedicated to stimulating the discovery process in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and enthusiastic learning.

For more on the NSF and the CAREER program, visit http://www.nsf.gov.

Click here to learn more about Katzgraber and his research.

-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Helmut G. Katzgraber, (979) 845-2590 or hgk@tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Helmut G. Katzgraber

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