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Nicole Yunger Halpern

JQI Affiliate

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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 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/quantum-steampunk-19th-century-science-meets-technology-of-today/.

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.

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Recent News

  • Nicole Yunger Halpern stands looks to the left while pointing to one of several physics equations on the blackboard behind her.

    Yunger Halpern Is US Nominee for ASPIRE Young Researcher Award

    July 14, 2023
  • A sketch of a machine of indeterminate use drawn with blue, purple and black lines.

    Maryland Quantum-Thermodynamics Hub Founded with $2M Grant

    September 29, 2022

    The University of Maryland is hosting a new $2 million project aimed at making the state of Maryland a central hub for research in the emerging field of quantum thermodynamics, which studies the rules that govern how energy flows in quantum systems. The Maryland Quantum-Thermodynamics Hub, supported by a grant from the Templeton Foundation, will bring together researchers from several universities to galvanize a field that is central to understanding our universe and to developing robust quantum technologies.

  • A photo of Nicole Yunger Halpern at a whiteboard

    Nicole Yunger Halpern Ponders Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Everything Else

    February 2, 2022

    There is a well-known saying, of disputed origin, that dissuades students and even working physicists from thinking too deeply about the meaning behind quantum physics. “Shut up and calculate,” it goes.