Benjamin Hunt(opens in new window), an associate professor of physics in Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon College of Science(opens in new window), has been named co-director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute(opens in new window) (PQI). A collaborative of CMU, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, PQI aims to advance research, education and training in quantum information science and engineering. The new co-director role will harness CMU’s expertise to help solidify Pittsburgh’s leadership in the field.
Hunt joins his longtime collaborator Michael Hatridge(opens in new window), an associate professor of physics at Pitt, as co-director. Hatridge leads the Hatlab(opens in new window) and is also the director of Western Pennsylvania Quantum Information Core, one of the shared facilities for PQI members.
As co-directors, Hatridge and Hunt will provide strategic direction and oversee PQI’s research programs, foster collaborations with industry and government partners, and further the education and training of the next generation of quantum scientists. Immediate plans include workshops, a seminar series located at both CMU and Pitt, research support, and a one-day event.
Hunt said he is excited to foster more connections at CMU.
"I'm really excited to bring our researchers together — to get computer science folks talking to physicists, people from our Software Engineering Institute(opens in new window), the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center(opens in new window) and more," he said. "There have been huge advances in quantum science in the last decade. And we at PQI are trying to energize and promote quantum science and engineering by making connections among researchers at Pitt, CMU, Duquesne and beyond."
Hatridge said he was excited to welcome Hunt to the PQI team.
"As co-director, I look forward to working alongside Ben to strengthen this enhanced partnership between our schools in furthering quantum research and education throughout our region and attracting government and industry leaders to partner with PQI," he said.
Rob Cunningham(opens in new window), Pitt's vice chancellor for research infrastructure and PQI's executive director said that establishing the co-director positions is an important step toward having significant impact.
"Through the PQI, we are poised to become leaders in quantum information science and engineering. Reaching that goal will require tighter collaborations and alignment of Pitt and CMU across multiple departments and disciplines," he said.
CMU's Curtis A. Meyer(opens in new window), interim dean of MCS, was integral in establishing the co-director role. He said he was thrilled to see the joint leadership.
"While there have been a substantial number of efforts scattered in both Carnegie Mellon and Pitt, having joint CMU/Pitt leadership of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute will allow us to solidify and strengthen these efforts in a coherent manner that will benefit not only our universities, but the region as a whole," Meyer said.
Technology that harnesses quantum mechanics can solve problems that are too complex for classical technology. Hunt is an experimental condensed matter physicist whose research focuses on two-dimensional materials.
"I'm interested in how the characteristics of these materials could be harnessed for things like improvements in the circuits that process quantum information," Hunt explained.
The co-directors said that already the team is exploring new approaches to broader collaborations, with multiple medium-sized workshops to examine problems and challenges in quantum science and engineering. The first of those(opens in new window) workshops focused on bringing together quantum theorists from the region and included faculty from Pitt, CMU, Duquesne, West Virginia University, Penn State and Ohio State University.