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Nicole Yunger Halpern

JQI Affiliate
A photo of Nicole Yunger Halpern
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Yunger Halpern
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Nicole will be a NIST physicist, JQI affiliate, QuICS Fellow, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physics and IPST, beginning in fall 2021. She re-envisions 19th-century thermodynamics for the 21st century, using the mathematical toolkit of quantum information (QI) theory. She then applies QI thermodynamics as a lens through which to view the rest of science, gaining new perspectives on atomic, molecular, and optical physics; condensed matter; chemistry; high-energy physics; and biophysics. Nicole calls this research “quantum steampunk,” after the steampunk genre of art and literature that juxtaposes Victorian settings (à la thermodynamics) with futuristic technologies (à la QI). For an overview, see

Nicole graduated from Dartmouth College as a covaledictorian of her undergraduate class. She earned her Masters through Perimeter Scholars International at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Pivoting from snow to sun, Nicole earned her PhD at Caltech, under John Preskill’s supervision. Her thesis won the international Ilya Prigogine Prize for a thermodynamics dissertation. She is continuing in her post as an ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard until summer 2021.