Dr. Nicole Yunger Halpern

ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellow

Nicole is an ITAMP Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard. She re-envisions 19th-century thermodynamics for 21st-century settings—small, quantum, and far-from-equilibrium contexts—using the mathematical toolkit of quantum information theory. Nicole uses quantum thermodynamics as a new lens through which to view the rest of science: atomic, molecular, and optical physics; condensed matter; chemistry; biophysics; and high-energy physics. She calls her research “quantum steampunk,” after the steampunk genre of art and literature that juxtaposes Victorian settings with futuristic technologies.

Nicole completed her physics PhD in 2018, under John Preskill's auspices at Caltech. Her dissertation won the Ilya Prigogine Prize for a thermodynamics PhD thesis. In 2020, she received the International Quantum Technology Emerging Researcher Award from the Institute of Physics. Beginning in fall 2021, she will be a NIST physicist, a QuICS Fellow at the Joint Institute for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), an affiliate of the Joint Quantum Institute, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physics and of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland. Nicole earned her Masters at the Perimeter Scholars International (PSI) program of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, working with Rob Spekkens and Markus P. Müller. Before that, she earned her Bachelors at Dartmouth College, where she graduated as a co-valedictorian of her class.

Nicole writes one story per month for Quantum Frontiers, the blog of Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (https://quantumfrontiers.com/author/nyungerhalpern/). You can connect with her on Twitter @nicoleyh11.

If you're wondering what Nicole's last name (family name, or surname) is, you're not the first. It’s “Yunger Halpern,” consisting of two parts separated by a space, not a hyphen. The “Yunger” contains no “o.”