Effective 9/1/23, I am becoming Professor of Physics and Director, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics, Emeritus. I am now working with PDT Partners, and my current scientific research is focused on understanding dynamics of various liquid global financial markets.

My previous research interests included diverse topics in theoretical physics, ranging from string theory and quantum gravity to cosmology, condensed matter theory and biophysics. 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)
- Studies of adaptive trade-offs in evolutionary dynamics of organisms exposed to a varying environment (with Daniel Fisher and Mikhail Tikhonov)
- Developing a new approach — using string duality — to find precise expressions for Ricci flat metrics on K3 surfaces (with Arnav Tripathy and Max Zimet)

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

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Department Chair, Stanford Physics (2018 - 2021)
  • 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

  • Elected as member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2022-)
  • Simons Investigator Award, Simons Foundation (2017 -)
  • Packard Fellow, David and Lucile Packard Foundation (2000-2005)
  • Bergmann 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

Starting fall of 2021, I will be taking an extended sabbatical/leave. Much of my effort during this period will be spent developing my skills in rapidly developing areas like machine learning, with a view towards the science emerging from analysis of large datasets.

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, geometry, and number theory.

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

— Theoretical biology, with a focus on evolution and ecology. This is a new initiative for me. My first paper in this area appeared on bioRxiv in 2019, 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 Graduate Advisees:

Brandon Rayhaun (to Stony Brook postdoc)
Milind Shyani (now at Amazon working on ML)
Richard Nally (to Klarman Fellow at Cornell, now a Pappalardo Fellow at MIT)
Xinghe Li (M.A., 2021)
Max Zimet (to Harvard postdoc, now at Voleon)
Nathan Benjamin (to Princeton PCTS; now faculty at USC)
Natalie Paquette (to Caltech postdoc, now a faculty member at UW - Seattle)
Dan Whalen (now at Renaissance Technologies)
Huajia Wang (to Illinois postdoc, faculty at Kavli Institute for Theoretical Sciences, Beijing)
Sarah Harrison (to Harvard postdoc, 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 (to graduate school at Princeton)
Inigo Lombera, summer 2019
Jordi Montana-Lopez, summer 2019
Sandra Nair (UCSC undergrad), summer 2019 (to math graduate school, Michigan)
Sandip Roy, 2019-20 (to graduate school at Princeton)
Lark Wang, 2019-20 (to graduate school at UC Berkeley)
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 (to graduate school at Princeton)
Marc Robbins, 2015 (to graduate school at Illinois)
Zhiming Wang, 2015 (to graduate school at Princeton)
Temple He, 2009-10 (to 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)

2023-24 Courses

All Publications