The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering celebrates the first quantum doctoral class.  graduates

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering celebrates the first quantum doctoral class. graduates

The first class of quantum science and engineering Ph.D. students graduated last month from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), representing one of the first cohorts in the nation to complete a Ph.D. Research. specifically dedicated to this fast growing sector.

The first three graduates of the program are members of the Awschalom group: Paul Jerger, Erzsebet Vincent, and Berk Diler Kovos.


Paul Jerger, PhD’21, has done research on nitrogen vacancy centers in diamond, one of the few quantum systems that can be studied at room temperature. He said he was drawn to quantum science because of its potential impact on future technology.

“What I find most exciting about quantum computing is that it adds a fundamentally different tool to the toolbox,” he said. “There is so much happening in computer science – artificial intelligence and machine learning – but in some of these cases we are reaching the limits of what modern technology can do. Quantum offers a whole new approach to those processes that cannot be replicated in any one. other way”.

Jerger also spoke about the benefits of working with Argonne National Laboratory and other UChicago partners. Together they make up a robust quantum ecosystem that has helped position the Chicagoland area as a major player in quantum information technologies.

“Working with the people of Argonne was an important part of my research,” said Jerger. “I have benefited from the range of people I can work with at PME, who all have something unique and valuable to add to the graduate school experience.”

Jerger will join HRL Laboratories as a scientist later this year, working on their quantum dot research program within the Materials and Microsystems Laboratory.


Erzsebet Vincent, PhD’21, studied the electronic properties of two-dimensional materials while studying as a graduate student at PME. His work centered on a new technique called “optical gating,” which uses different colors of light to control the electronic properties of those materials. Vincent talked about his experience at PME and his motivation to join his QSE program.

“I was attracted to PME by its interdisciplinarity,” said Vincent. “PME brings together people from different scientific backgrounds and creates an environment in which they can cultivate their work side by side. The school encourages communication and collaboration on topics, which opens the door to many exciting innovations. “

Vincent intends to remain in academic research, focusing on quantum biology.

“I am particularly interested in quantum sensing in biological systems, where the environmentally responsive properties of quantum systems are exploited to make extremely sensitive nanoscale measurements,” said Vincent. “I think seeing the unusual properties of quantum mechanics peeking through life science is very exciting and that using quantum sensing opens the door to new precision and a better understanding of biology. I believe this field as a whole offers the potential. for revolutionary fundamental research and new technologies “.


Berk Diler Kovos, PhD’21, has focused his university research on the development of quantum bits using transition metal ions. Quantum bits, or qubits, serve as the backbone for quantum devices such as communication nodes, sensors, and computers, in much the same way that transistors work in a conventional computer. His work examined the creation and characterization of this highly scalable qubit platform. For him, quantum science was a way to better understand and design the world we live in.

“Quantum mechanics, essentially, is the fundamental law on which nature is based,” said Kovos. “Understanding that is the key to understanding the rules of the game, of this universe we are in. So being able to use those laws to build technology and build something useful for humanity is also very tempting and exciting.”

Kovos, who will continue to work in the Awschalom Group as a postdoctoral fellow, also spoke about PME’s distinctive working environment and how it has affected his work.

“One of the main reasons I decided to continue as a postdoc at PME is that the people here are great,” he said. “There is a spirit of collaboration and camaraderie here, this dynamic where you can go to anyone, ask questions and chat, and that opens up your perspective. Everyone is always willing to help. And it is simply unbelievable ”.

PME has emphasized quantum education and training since the inception of its first doctoral program, the PhD in Molecular Engineering, in 2013, which included a comprehensive quantum science and engineering specialty. Then, in November 2021, PME launched its PhD in quantum science and engineering. program, elevating that specialty and creating one of the first programs of its kind in the nation.


“As an institution, PME is dedicated to the fields that will drive the next generation of technology and innovation,” said Matthew Tirrell, Dean of PME. “Quantum science and engineering has the potential to transform more industries, which is why we’ve brought together some of the best minds in the industry to train the world’s future quantum leaders. This first class of graduates represents the vanguard of quantum science education. I can’t wait to see what they get. “

“By attracting exceptional researchers and cultivating interdisciplinary research, we have worked for nearly a decade to create one of the strongest academic programs in the nation,” said David Awschalom, professor of molecular engineering in the Liew family and director of Q-NEXT, a department of the quantum information science research center of energy. “As the field of quantum technology grows and expands, degree programs like this one will be instrumental in developing a diverse and talented workforce of quantum engineers, shaping the future of the field for years to come.”

The QSE starter cohort will be invited to attend the UChicago 2022 convocation, held in June.

“We are extremely proud of the high caliber of this first group of graduates,” said Aashish Clerk, professor of molecular engineering and director of graduate studies for the QSE program. “We are confident that they will continue to play a key role in advancing the state of the art in quantum engineering, helping this field reach its full potential.”

—This story was first published by the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

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