NSF announces $25 million institute in Chicago for quantum biology research


Graduate students Coco Li (foreground) and Lawson Lloyd (background) work in the Engel lab at the University of Chicago. Prof. Greg Engel will head a new National Science Foundation institute called the Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Quantum Sensing for Biophysics and Bioengineering, designed to pioneer new ways to use quantum technology in biology, and to develop the quantum workforce through STEM education and outreach (Image Credit: Jean Lachat).

Two scientists at whiteboard with many equations

This research will require intense collaboration across disciplines, including scientists and engineers from UChicago’s Departments of Chemistry and Physics, the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, and the Biological Sciences Division, as well as scientists at Chicago State, UIC and Harvard. UChicago’s affiliations with nearby Argonne and Fermilab offer access to expertise and unique resources, such as supercomputers and synchrotrons.

Quantum collaborations

The collaboration is also intended to boost the involvement of Chicago students in quantum research ranging from K-12 to Ph.D.s, particularly those in underserved communities.

Planned activities at Chicago State University include the creation of a certificate program in quantum science and the continued development of curriculum that will train students in skills needed for the quantum workforce. CSU faculty and students will also perform outreach with Chicago Public Schools. This grant will offer funding support for students at UChicago, Chicago State and UIC. Faculty from all institutions also will collaborate on scientific exploration, bringing together ideas and resources.

“The field of quantum technology is at a crossroads, and this is a unique opportunity for our students to be in on the ground floor of a new and growing industry,” said Valerie Goss, associate professor of chemistry, in the department of chemistry, physics and engineering studies at Chicago State University. “This collaboration will open doors for both students and faculty across disciplines to build networks, develop fundamental research, and share resources and opportunities between our universities.”

A centerpiece of the program is pairing students with both academic and industry partners—an approach designed to prepare students for success in the workforce and also to speed the process from scientific discovery to implementation.

“For me the most exciting thing is the questions this technology can answer that we haven’t thought of yet.”

—Peter Maurer, assistant professor of molecular engineering at UChicago —Peter Maurer, assistant professor of molecular engineering at UChicago


“For me the most exciting thing is the questions this technology can answer that we haven’t thought of yet,” said Peter Maurer, assistant professor of molecular engineering at UChicago and another member of the new institute. “We know of amazing potential applications, but I think probably the biggest ones are still to be discovered and that’s what excites me most: actually finding those applications and realizing them.”

In the Sept. 2 statement, NSF also announced funding for the NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Robust Quantum Simulation, led by the University of Maryland in College Park to develop quantum systems as well as the methods and tools for large-scale quantum simulators that will allow for quantum computation.

“Our Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes program is developing the foundation of quantum information sciences, as well as developing the future students, faculty, startups, and industry partners who are engaged in it,” said Sean L. Jones, NSF assistant director of mathematical and physical sciences. “These two new institutes are tapping into challenging fields that have the potential to develop the next generation of tools that will establish the United States at the forefront of quantum innovation.”

Source:  uchicago news.  Louise Lerner,  NSF announces $25 million institute in Chicago for quantum biology research…

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