I am interested in a variety of problems in different fields: string theory and mathematical physics, condensed matter theory, and (a most recent addition) theoretical biology. My work in condensed matter has focused in recent years on developing toy models of non-Fermi liquid states of matter, and on dualities in 2+1 dimensional quantum field theory. I am a member of the Simons Collaboration on Ultra-Quantum Matter and anticipate active pursuit of a range of problems in physics of strongly correlated electrons, topological states, and so forth. In string theory and mathematical physics, my work has ranged over the years from studies of string duality to problems at the interface of string theory with theoretical cosmology. Recently I've thought quite a bit about mathematical aspects of string theory including new moonshines, enumerative geometry of BPS states, and general explorations of the connection of string theory to number theory. Last but certainly not least, I have recently developed an interest in theoretical biology, in particular in theoretical questions in evolutionary biology and eco-evolutionary dynamics that can be attacked with mathematical or computational techniques familiar to theoretical physicists.

It is hard to know what the future holds, but you can get some idea of what I work on by looking at my past. Highlights of my past research include:

- The discovery of string dualities with 4d N=2 supersymmetry, and their use to find exact solutions of gauge theories (with Cumrun Vafa)
- The construction of the first examples of AdS/CFT duality with reduced supersymmetry (with Eva Silverstein)
- Foundational papers on string compactification in the presence of background fluxes (with Steve Giddings and Joe Polchinski)
- Basic models of cosmic acceleration in string theory (with Renata Kallosh, Andrei Linde, and Sandip Trivedi)
- First computation of the non-Gaussianity in general single field inflation (with Xingang Chen, Min-xin Huang, and Gary Shiu)
- Developing the framework underlying holography for non-relativistic field theories, relevant for modeling quantum matter at finite density (with Xiao Liu and Michael Mulligan)
- Simple and tractable models of non-Fermi liquids (with Liam Fitzpatrick, Jared Kaplan, and Sri Raghu)

For details about my present and former students, please see the “Research and Scholarship” link in my full Stanford profile.

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Department Chair, Stanford Physics (2018 - Present)
  • Wells Family Director, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics (2017 - Present)
  • Professor of Physics, Stanford University (1999 - Present)
  • KITP Member and Visiting Professor, UCSB (2009 - 2010)
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study (1999 - 2000)
  • Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley (1997 - 1999)
  • Research Associate, Rutgers University (1996 - 1997)
  • Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows (1994 - 1996)

Honors & Awards

  • Simons Investigator Award, Simons Foundation (2017 -)
  • SQuaRE grant, "Moonshine and string theory", American Institute of Mathematics (2016-)
  • Plenary Speaker, International Congress of Mathematical Physics, International Association of Mathematical Physics (2015)
  • Distinguished Visiting Research Chair, Perimeter Institute (2014-)
  • Outstanding Young Investigator, ACIPA (2008)
  • Packard Fellow, David and Lucile Packard Foundation (2000-2005)
  • Begmann Memorial Award, Israeli Science Foundation (1999)
  • Sloan Fellow, Sloan Foundation (1998-2000)
  • Outstanding Junior Investigator, Department of Energy (1997-99)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Scientific Advisory Committee, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Science (KITS), Beijing (2019 - Present)
  • Editorial Board, Research in Mathematical Sciences (2015 - Present)
  • Scientific Advisory Committee, Perimeter Institute (2015 - 2019)
  • Advisory Board, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), Santa Barbara (2014 - 2017)
  • External Organizer, ICTP Spring School (2007 - 2010)
  • Member, Aspen Center for Physics (2006 - 2015)
  • Editor, JHEP (2004 - Present)
  • External Organizer, TASI 1999, 2005, 2007 (1999 - 2007)

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Princeton University, Physics (1994)
  • A.B., Harvard University, Physics (1990)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My recent research has involved three directions:

— Mathematical aspects of string theory, with a focus on interplay between BPS state counts, physics of black holes, and number theory.

— Quantum field theory and condensed matter physics, with a particular interest in the emergence of non-Fermi liquid states of matter.

— Theoretical biology, with a focus on evolution and ecology. This is a new initiative for me. My first papers in this area will appear in late 2018, and I have started accepting students with a primary interest in this area.

I typically work with a small number of graduate students and SITP postdocs. I’ve also taken undergraduate researchers for summer or thesis projects. My students have gone on to various interesting places after leaving Stanford.

Present and former PhD Advisees:

Milind Shyani (current student)
Brandon Rayhaun (current student)
Xinghe Li (current student)
Richard Nally (current student)
Max Zimet (current student, to Harvard in Fall 2019)
Nathan Benjamin (now Fellow, Princeton Center for Theoretical Science)
Natalie Paquette (now Burke Fellow at Caltech)
Dan Whalen (now at Renaissance Technologies)
Huajia Wang (KITP postdoc, to faculty at Kavli Institute for Theoretical Sciences in 2019)
Sarah Harrison (to Harvard postdoc, now joint math/physics faculty at McGill)
Dusan Simic (to KITP postdoc)
Mike Mulligan (to MIT postdoc, now faculty at UC Riverside)
Wu-yen Chuang (to Rutgers postdoc, now mathematics faculty at National Taiwan University)
Alexander Giryavets (now Vice-President at Morgan Stanley)
Xiao Liu (to Perimeter Institute postdoc, now faculty at UESTC)
Liam McAllister (to Princeton postdoc, now Cornell faculty)
John McGreevy (to Princeton postdoc, now UCSD faculty)
Michael Schulz (to Caltech postdoc, now Bryn Mawr faculty)

Present and former undergraduate research students:

Anna Biggs (Harvard undergrad), summer 2019
Inigo Lombera, summer 2019
Jordi Montana-Lopez, summer 2019
Sandra Nair (UCSC undergrad, Ramanujan Fellow), summer 2019
Sandip Roy, summer 2019
Lark Wang, summer 2019
George Hulsey, 2018-19 (to graduate school at UCSB)
Sungyeon Yang, 2018-19 (now in graduate school at Stanford)
Newton Cheng, 2017-18 (to graduate school at UC Berkeley)
Tudor Ciobanu, 2017-18 (to graduate school at Stony Brook)
Ethan Sussman, 2016-18 (to graduate school in mathematics at MIT)
Preethi Pallegar, 2015-16 (now in graduate school at Princeton)
Marc Robbins, 2015 (now in graduate school at Illinois)
Zhiming Wang, 2015 (now in graduate school at Princeton)
Temple He, 2009-10 (now in graduate school at Harvard)
Daniel Balick, 2005-06 (UCSB PhD in theoretical biology, now at Harvard)
Christopher Beem, 2005-06 (Berkeley PhD in string theory, now faculty at Oxford)
Dan Wohns, 2005-06 (Cornell PhD in string theory, now at Perimeter)

2019-20 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications