2018 Winter Conferences

*Denotes physicist in charge of diversity

January 7 - 13, 2018

Data-driven Discovery and Design in Soft and Biological Materials

*Andrew Ferguson, UIUC
Erik Luijten, Northwestern University
Gerard Wong, UCLA

Data-driven modeling approaches and machine learning have opened new paradigms in the understanding, engineering, and design of soft and biological materials. This Aspen Winter Conference aims to convene theoretical, computational, and experimental researchers and practitioners in physics, materials science, bioengineering, and chemical science to advance interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding in data-enabled materials and molecular design.
The promise of materials design through machine learning is great, and practitioners worldwide are beginning to embrace this new modality to design and engineer peptides, proteins, DNA, colloids, organic photovoltaics and semi-conductors, polymers, and hydrogels.
This event will bring together experimental and theoretical researchers in soft materials and biology, along with experts in machine learning, statistics, and applied mathematics, to define and codify the key directions, objectives, and methodologies for this field, and determine how to best engage physical modeling tools and experimental characterization techniques with one another and with data-driven tools to guide and accelerate soft and biological materials discovery and design.

For more information, please click here.

Condensed Matter Physics
January 14 - 20, 2018

High Temperature Superconductivity -
Unifying Themes in Diverse Materials

*Robert J. Birgeneau, UC Berkeley
Zhi-Xun Shen, Stanford University
Qimiao Si, Rice University

Iron-based superconductivity has been at the center of condensed matter physics for nearly a decade. Recent developments in the study of the iron chalcogenides have renewed hope of reaching even higher transition temperatures for superconductivity. Meanwhile, considerable progress has been made on the understanding of their microscopic physics. Over the same period, the study of the venerable copper-based superconductors has undergone a drastic resurgence, due to a flurry of experimental discoveries and new theoretical understandings on the electronic orders in the pseudogap regime.
This Aspen Winter Conference will highlight the aforementioned developments, and showcase the unifying themes that are emerging from studying a diverse set of materials. While the focus will be on the iron- and copper-based systems, the conference will also feature the deepening understanding on quantum criticality in heavy fermion and organic superconductors, physics of spin liquids, as well as superconductivity above 200 K that has been reported under extreme pressure during the past two years.

For more information, please click here.

January 20 - 26, 2018

Using Tidal Disruption Events
to Study Super-Massive Black Holes

*Suvi Gezari, University of Maryland
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, UC Santa Cruz
Stefanie Komossa, Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy
Peter Jonker, Netherlands Institute for Space Research and Radboud University

The recent advent of numerous wide field transient surveys led to a large increase in the discovery of tidal disruption events (TDEs). Questions facing us are: how can we use these events to study the demographic (mass, spin, binarity) of super-massive black holes in quiescent galaxies, the stellar populations and dynamics in galactic nuclei, the physics of black hole accretion under extreme conditions including the potential to detect relativistic effects near the super-massive black hole, and the physics of radio jet formation and evolution in a pristine environment. With the near-future increased detection rates, we need to devise ways to manage the observational follow-up resources and to test and inform theoretical models for the nature of the observed TDE emission and their expected rates. The Aspen meeting will be used to lay groundwork for coordinating follow-up work (UV, optical spectra, radio, X-ray, late-time host galaxy, continued monitoring for repetitions...) and decision trees (concentrate all guns on a few brightest ones, or do less on more?) as well as bring together theorists to further the models on the TDE emission mechanism.

Biophysics & Condensed Matter
January 28 - February 3, 2018

Fundamental Problems in Active Matter

Aparna Baskaran, Brandeis University
Ayusman Sen, Pennsylvania State University
Julien Tailleur, University Paris Diderot

Active systems comprised of individual microscopic units and large assemblies convert energy, often drawn from the environment, to produce mechanical work. These driven, out-of-equilibrium, systems display rich behavior that differs strongly from the traditional equilibrium structures. Examples range from cell cytoskeletal dynamics and collective behavior in bacterial colonies to synthetic autonomous systems. The study of active systems is both a challenge to scientists attempting to elucidate a quantitative descriptive framework and an opportunity to understand the physical underpinning of biological systems.The past few years have witnessed an upsurge of studies at the crossroads of chemistry, biology, and physics. The aim of the Aspen Winter Conference is to bring together, through talks and focused discussions, researchers from these diverse disciplines to exchange viewpoints and chart a roadmap going forward that melds the different approaches to the study of this exciting area. The past few years have witnessed an upsurge of studies at the crossroads of chemistry, biology, and physics. The aim of the Aspen Winter Conference is to bring together, through talks and focused discussions, researchers from these diverse disciplines to exchange viewpoints and chart a roadmap going forward that melds the different approaches to the study of this exciting area.

For more information, please click here.

February 4 - 10

Cosmological Signals from Cosmic Dawn to the Present

Rennan Barkana, Tel Aviv University
Judd D. Bowman, Arizona State University
Tzu-Ching Chang, JPL/Caltech/ASIAA
*Anastasia Fialkov, Harvard University
Adam Lidz, University of Pennsylvania
Anthony Pullen, New York University

The high redshift Universe is an area of active research in both theoretical and observational astrophysics. The meeting will be broad and cover several hot and rapidly evolving topics in the field including:

  • Line intensity mapping
  • The 21-cm signal from the epoch of reionization and the cosmic dawn
  • First UV and X-ray sources
  • Physics of reionization and cosmic dawn

  • Discoveries in these fields are likely soon, and they will be transformational for our understanding of the Universe. The goal of this conference is to foster fruitful discussions between observers, theorists, and simulators working on these related areas.

    For more information, please click here.

    Particle Physics
    March 4 - 10, 2018

    Quantum Knot Homology and Supersymmetric Gauge Theories

    Sergei Gukov, California Institute of Technology
    *Mikhail Khovanov, Columbia University
    Andrew Lobb, Durham University
    Piotr Sułkowski, University of Warsaw

    This conference is devoted to the study of quantum knot homologies and related invariants. The name of this area of research already indicates that this is an interdisciplinary topic: such homologies are of interest to mathematicians (in particular topologists and representation theorists), while quantum phenomena have in principle their origin in physics. There are communities of both mathematicians and physicists who work on these topics from different perspectives, they use different tools, and sometimes the same tools but described in different languages. The main aim of the conference is to bring researchers from those two communities together, establish a common language and explain important results to each other, summarize the status of the field, and specify goals and set a common program for future research.

    For more information, please click here.

    Quantum Physics
    March 11 - 17, 2018

    Advances in Quantum Algorithms and Computation

    *Krysta M. Svore, Microsoft Research
    Matthias Troyer, Microsoft Research
    Aram W. Harrow, MIT
    Stephanie Wehner, QuTech, TU Delft

    This conference follows two previous successful conferences in 2014 and 2016 which asked: if we had a quantum computer, what would we do with it? Then, quantum computers were still hypothetical devices that would use the quantum mechanical properties of superposition and entanglement to solve problems that are likely to be forever out of reach of classical computers. Now, there is a major worldwide effort to build scalable quantum computers to realize crucial, world-changing speedups over classical computers. Even larger quantum computers are being placed online and by 2018, we expect to see the first quantum computers actually outperforming the runtime of classical computers for certain problems. We bring together experts from diverse research avenues to discuss progress in quantum algorithms, identify killer applications of quantum computers, and discuss key challenges in the development of quantum algorithms for existing small- and near-term medium-scale quantum devices. The conference will highlight topics at the forefront of quantum computing, including:

  • Adiabatic Quantum Optimization and Quantum Annealing
  • Quantum Algorithms in the Quantum Circuit Model
  • Quantum Query Models
  • Quantum Simulation of Physical Systems
  • Classical Methods for Simulation of Quantum Algorithms
  • Quantum Fault Tolerance and Error Correction
  • Quantum Hardware Advances
  • Quantum Circuit Optimization
  • Quantum Network Protocols

  • For more information, please click here.

    Condensed Matter
    March 18 - 24, 2018

    Field Theory Dualities and Strongly Correlated Matter

    Andreas Karch, University of Washington
    Olexei Motrunich, Caltech
    *Ashvin Vishwanath, Harvard University
    Dam Thanh Son, University of Chicago

    Strong interactions cause electrons in high magnetic fields to fractionalize, currents to pass unimpeded through copper oxide layers, quarks and gluons to bind into mesons and nuclei, and even space itself to emerge from more fundamental underlying degrees of freedom. However, strong interactions also cause traditional perturbative techniques to fail and ask for the developments for new tools.
    A particularly powerful approach to strong coupling is based on the idea of duality: two very different quantum field theories can actually describe the same physics. What appears to be strongly coupled in one description is weakly coupled in the other. Recent years have shown the power of this idea in the context of three-dimensional field theories, bringing together ideas from the particle physics and condensed matter physics communities. For the latter, thinking in terms of topological defects such as vortices and hedgehogs formalized by duality transformations contributed significantly to understanding of phases of strongly interacting many-body systems, in particular of fractionalized phases including fractional quantum Hall states and spin liquids, complex charge ordering patterns in Mott insulators, and more recently symmetry-protected topological phases. For the former, using supersymmetric field theories as toy models has led to an understanding of intricate webs of dualities between theories with different matter content and even different dimensions, that has guided the search for non-supersymmetric dualities.
    The last year has seen the high-energy and condensed matter communities coming together following dramatic developments in our understanding of (2+1)-dimensional field theories, connecting an astonishing array of ideas from condensed matter physics, particle physics and string theory. Our conference will bring together leading experts from both communities to take the next steps in this exciting journey.

    For more information, please click here.

    Particle Physics
    March 25 - 31, 2018

    The Particle Frontier

    Kyle Cranmer, New York University
    Eva Halkiadakis, Rutgers University
    Rafael Lang, Purdue University
    *Ann Nelson, University of Washington
    Joshua Ruderman, New York University

    This Aspen winter conference is one of the major venues for the particle physics community to present new data and discuss novel ideas. Topics will include Higgs physics, dark matter, flavor physics, and physics beyond the Standard Model. New experimental results will be announced, including from the Large Hadron Collider and dark matter direct detection. There will be an emphasis on charting new experimental and theoretical directions. The conference format is designed to facilitate fruitful interactions between experimentalists and theorists working on a variety of topics in particle physics.

    For more information, please click here.