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Zohreh Davoudi, Ph.D.

Education and academic appointments

I received my B.Sc. degree in 2007 and my M.Sc degree in 2009 from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. I then moved to the U.S. to continue my studies in Theoretical Physics. I received my Ph.D. in 2014 from the University of Washington in Seattle, under the supervision of Prof. Martin Savage, and shortly thereafter joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Theoretical Physics as a post-doctoral research associate.  In 2017, I joined the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland as a tenure-track faculty and was promoted to a tenured faculty in 2023. I was also appointed as a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS) in the same year. Additionally, I was affiliated with the RIKEN research program from 2017 to 2020. I have had long-term visits to the Institute for Nuclear Theory in Seattle, WA, and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, CA. Currently, I am the Associate Director for Education at the National Science Foundations's Institute for Robust Quantum Simulation at the University of Maryland, College Park.


Selected awards and recognitions

  • Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Award (2019)

  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2019)

  • Kenneth Wilson Award for excellence in Lattice Gauge theory (2018)

  • Sebastian Karrer Prize in Physics for academic excellence in graduate studies in Physics, University of Washington (2012)

Research interests and goals

I study strongly interacting systems, such as hadrons and nuclei, using analytical and computational methods including effective field theories, lattice quantum chromodynamics, quantum simulation, and quantum computing. Two prongs of my research can be described as:

  1. Developing and applying effective field theories and lattice quantum chromodynamics (LQCD) technique aiming at: i) A reliable determination of nuclear and hypernuclear few-body interactions to supplement experimental nuclear-physics programs worldwide, such as the facility for rare isotope beams (FRIB), and to refine studies of extreme astrophysical environment, such as the interior of neutron stars. ii) Constraining hadronic contributions to Standard Model and beyond-the-Standard Model processes, with an impact on both low-energy nuclear physics and high-energy particle physics research, removing some of the long-standing uncertainties in reactions such as those occurring in sun or in fusion research facilities, the cross section of various dark-matter candidates scattering off heavy nuclei in experiments, and the rate of exotic processes such as the neutrinoless double-beta decay.

  2.  Developing and benchmarking frameworks for quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories and nuclear effective field theories, in light of rapid progress in quantum- computing technologies worldwide. A long-term goal of this research is to combat the long-standing sign problem inherent in traditional Monte Carlo computations of fermionic systems (relevant for studies of dense matter in nature) and real-time dynamics of strongly-interacting matter (relevant for studies of the evolution of matter after Big Bang or after the collision of heavy nuclei in experiments). This problem can potentially be eliminated through mapping and tracking the dynamics of the system on a quantum simulator. Both the algorithmic developments for efficient implementations of the problems on near-term and future digital quantum-computing platforms, as well as accurate engineering of Hamiltonians of controlled quantum systems for implementations on analog quantum simulators (e.g., ion-trap platforms) are pursued for benchmark problems.

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