Honorary and Inaugural lectures

Making near-term quantum computers useful

Prof. Zoë Holmes, Laboratory of Quantum Information and Computation - QIC

15h15   Inaugural lecture Prof. Zoë Holmes
16h05   Inaugural lecture Prof. Giuseppe Carleo

Quantum computers are expected to substantially outperform classical computers for probing and simulating large entangled quantum systems. Such quantum algorithms have the potential to transform fields from materials science to quantum chemistry. However, while quantum hardware is rapidly developing, we remain solidly in the so called Noisy Intermediary Scale Quantum (NISQ) era in which the available devices are relatively small and prone to noise. This substantially limits what we can do with quantum hardware any time soon. Here we will discuss strategies to tease useful computations out of the small noisy quantum computers that are currently available. 

Zoë Holmes obtained her master's degree in Physics and Philosophy at the University of Oxford in 2015. During her PhD at Imperial College London she worked on quantum thermodynamics, receiving her degree in February 2020. After completing a temporary research position at Exeter university, she joined Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) as a post-doctoral researcher working on near-term quantum algorithms. In May 2021 she was awarded the Mark Kac post-doctoral fellowship to continue her work at LANL. Since August 2022, she has been a tenure track Assistant Professor of Physics in the School of Basic Sciences at the EPFL, where she founded the Laboratory of Quantum Information and Computation. Her current research focuses on the foundations of quantum machine learning and developing new approaches to quantum simulation. 

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Machine learning: a paradigm shift in the simulation of quantum phenomena

Prof. Giuseppe Carleo, Computational Quantum Science Laboratory - CQSL

15h15   Inaugural lecture Prof. Zoë Holmes
16h05   Inaugural lecture Prof. Giuseppe Carleo

Machine-learning-based approaches, routinely adopted in cutting-edge industrial applications, are being increasingly applied to study fundamental problems in science. Many-body physics is at the forefront of these exciting developments, given its intrinsic "big-data" nature. I will present selected applications to the quantum realm, from nuclear to condensed matter, showing how these approaches are quickly expanding the domain of the problems that can be accurately explored with numerical simulations.

Giuseppe Carleo is a computational quantum physicist. He earned a Ph.D. from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Italy in 2011. He held postdoctoral positions at the Institut d’Optique in France and ETH Zurich. In 2018, he joined the Flatiron Institute in New York City as a Research Scientist and Project Leader. Since September 2020 he is an assistant professor at EPFL, leading the Computational Quantum Science Laboratory (CQSL).

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Opportunities in myco-materials by submerged fermentation

Prof. Tiffany Abitbol

Fungal biomaterials are based on the metabolism of filamentous fungi, which have evolved to decompose recalcitrant biomass, preventing soil, forests, and waterways from being overrun with plant litter and animal tissue. In the laboratory, myco-composites are usually produced by solid fermentation, a process based on the fungal colonization of solid lignocellulosic substrates that are processed to a uniform size prior to inoculation. The fungi simultaneously digest and bind the lignocellulose elements, forming a cohesive myco-composite that can be grown to shape, filling the space of its container. The end composition and properties of myco-composites fundamentally depend on the balance between decomposition and growth that is achieved before the material is harvested and growth is terminated. Although less common, submerged fermentation can also be used to produce pure and composite fungal biomaterials. Nature vs. nurture is at play in fungal development, with interactions between genetics and the environment shaping material outcomes. In this talk, I will use a specific example of nanocellulose-mycelium myco-composites to highlight specific opportunities in the submerged fermentation of myco-materials and in the bioengineering of material properties through modifications to the growth environment.
Bio: Tiffany Abitbol has a PhD in Chemistry from Prof. Derek Gray’s group at McGill University, working on cellulosic nanocomposite films, fibers, hydrogels, and colloids. After two postdocs, one at McMaster University and a second at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tiffany moved to RISE Research Institutes of Sweden in 2017. As a senior researcher at RISE, Tiffany participated in and led cross-disciplinary commercially sponsored projects, including in packaging, wound care, food, and personal care. At the same time, she continued to engage in fundamental research centered mainly around nanocellulose and fungal mycelium. Not that long ago, in June 2022, Tiffany started a professor position at EPFL in the Institute of Materials through a Chair in Sustainable Packaging, co-funded by BASF, Logitech, Nestlé, and SIG. Her group (Sustainable Materials Laboratory) continues to focus on cellulose and other bio-based materials, with an overarching aim of connecting composition and colloidal properties to the performance of engineered materials derived from renewable resources.

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