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Sciences Dean Stubbs Applauds New Quantum Science Program, Additional Research Endeavors

The Laboratory for Integrated Science and Engineering facilitates research in the field of physics.
The Laboratory for Integrated Science and Engineering facilitates research in the field of physics. By Angela Dela Cruz
By Justin Lee and Lauren L. Zhang, Crimson Staff Writers

Dean of Science Christopher W. Stubbs expressed his excitement for three areas of study within the Sciences Division — including the recently-approved Quantum Science and Engineering graduate program — in an interview last week.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted in favor of the creation of a Quantum Science and Engineering program at Harvard at last Tuesday’s faculty meeting.

“We are at the forefront of trying to understand and exploit the really spooky elements of quantum mechanics in a way that may well have significant technological impact on society,” Stubbs said of the new program.

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences professor Evelyn L. Hu, who advocated for the new program along with Physics professor John M. Doyle, told FAS faculty in the meeting that it is important Harvard adopt a graduate program in quantum science to contribute to the ever-growing field.

“Crafting this Ph.D. program in Quantum Science and Engineering has been a labor of love for all of us who have been involved with it,” Hu said. “We believe that this is a special moment in time to introduce such a program because of the proliferation of discoveries and opportunities in this new area.”

Stubbs said in the interview, which took place last Monday, that the design process is “just getting started” for a new building — located at 60 Oxford Street — that will house the program.

In addition to the soon-to-be graduate program, Stubbs also said he is excited about the original scholarship Harvard is undertaking in climate science and engineering.

“We would love to find ways for Harvard to be more impactful, and to exploit the fact that we have a combination of strengths across the different schools at Harvard that is essentially unrivaled,” Stubbs said. “We’re a powerhouse across the board — of basic and applied sciences, the regulatory elements, the legal elements, the human elements, the policy elements — of, ‘How do we confront one of mankind’s biggest challenges?’”

“We’re in the process of putting together a strategic approach to how we can be more impactful in that domain,” he added.

Lastly, Stubbs pointed to interdisciplinary research in neuroscience and machine learning — what he called “cognition writ large” — as a “big intellectual opportunity” and priority for the FAS’s Science Division.

“How can machine learning work so terrifyingly well for algorithms that are really in some ways rather pedestrian, and how can you use that to good effect in data analysis in the sciences?” Stubbs raised. “Conversely, how can you take your understanding of simple biological neural systems and apply that to computer programs, and how do you make the ping pong ball go back and forth there?”

—Staff writer Justin Lee can be reached at justin.lee@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Lauren L. Zhang can be reached at lauren.zhang@thecrimson.com.

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