Prof. NYU receives $75,000 for work on quantum physics

Dries Sells, a professor in the university’s physics department, has received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation research grant for his work in quantum physics and machine learning.

Associate Professor of Physics Driss Sells, who recently won an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship. (Courtesy of the Simons Foundation)

Dries Sells, assistant professor of physics at New York University, recently received a Sloan Fellowship for his works on quantum dynamics and machine learning. In 2023, 125 young scientists received the scholarship provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The selected scientists have demonstrated the highest achievements in modern scientific research.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a non-profit grant-making foundation aimed at improving the well-being of researchers. Each winner receives a two-year scholarship and $75,000. The Foundation supports original research through grants, contributing to developments in education, science, technology and the economy.

Sells, one of the most recent recipients of the fund, is a quantum theoretical physicist who focuses on the relationship between atoms and subatomic particles. It also specializes in quantum computing, which differs from conventional computing in that there are no limits, allowing users to do more with their devices.

“My research is about how we can actually control the kind of things we’re building a quantum computer out of,” he said. “How do we manipulate this quantum state to turn it into a computer?”

Matthew Kleban, head of NYU’s physics department, nominated Sells for the scholarship because he is an innovative physicist working at the forefront of his field.

“Theoretical quantum physics is a very exciting field,” Kleban said. “It can do things that sound impossible, like creating particles that are in two incompatible states at the same time. In principle, this allows a single processor to run in parallel with itself, significantly speeding up calculations.”

Sells said most of the money he receives from the scholarship will go to graduate students to conduct their own research. Some help Sells in his research, including Joseph Clayton Peacock, who studies physics in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“Of course, research funding is not always guaranteed, and this is especially true for theoretical students,” Pavlin said. “I am delighted to hear that we will be receiving this additional financial support.”

Sells expressed his gratitude for the fellowship and the recognition it gave him and his research. He intends to use the grant for further research and learn more about quantum mechanics in the process.

“It’s always nice to see our work externally validated,” Sells said. “The list of people who have received a Sloan Fellowship includes some very famous people in the field of physics in general, so it’s great to be on that list.”

Contact Clara Spray at [email protected]

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