# Department of Physics Welcomes Three New Faculty Members

The UMBC Department of Physics is excited to welcome three new faculty members this Fall: Benjamin Owen, Geoffrey Diederich, and Fabio Anzà. Together, they bring new strengths to the department in astrophysics, condensed-matter physics, and quantum information science, and will help contribute to the department’s continuing rise in research and education.

Ben received his B.S. in Physics from Sonoma State University and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he studied gravitational waves and relativistic astrophysics under Kip Thorne. After postdocs at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ben was Professor of Physics at Penn State and Texas Tech. Ben received Caltech’s thesis of the year award, was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and (with the rest of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) received a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the historic discovery of gravitational waves.

After building the mathematical foundations of gravitational wave data analysis by applying differential geometry to signal processing, Ben discovered the most promising version of the Chandrasekhar-Friedman-Schutz instability in neutron stars and worked out many related properties of neutron star matter. Then he started developing and running supercomputing codes to search for new sources of gravitational waves. Ben is one of the few people to have made major contributions to all four data analysis groups of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Collaboration (binary mergers, other bursts, continuous waves, and the stochastic background) in addition to his theory work. He has also made key contributions to using gravitational wave observations to constrain fundamental parameters in relativity and nuclear and particle physics. Ben currently serves as chair of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration’s Editorial Board and Head of Observational Analysis for Cosmic Explorer, a planned successor to LIGO. In the coming years LIGO, LISA, and Cosmic Explorer will probe the properties of the most extreme matter in the universe, reveal how galaxies merge, and test the limits of relativity and other modern theories of physics; and UMBC will be a key part of these pioneering explorations.

Geoffrey received their B.Sc. and M.Sc. in physics from Bowling Green State University, where they investigated the optical properties of colloidal quantum dots under Professor Mikhail Zamkov. Geoffrey then went to the University of Denver to obtain their Ph.D., where they studied ultrafast coherent spectroscopy under the supervision of Professor Mark Siemens. After graduate school, Geoffrey moved to the University of Washington, where they performed seminal work on the magnon dynamics in two-dimensional magnets under the supervision of Professor Xiaodong Xu.

During graduate school, Geoffrey received outstanding teaching honors from both the University of Denver and the American association of physics teachers, as well as the University of Denver Graduate Education Dissertation Fellowship. Geoffrey was then awarded the ORISE Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship to support their work. Their research has been published in high impact journals such as

Fabio received his B.Sc. in physics from the University of Palermo, with a thesis at the interface between entanglement theory and statistical mechanics, and his M.Sc. in theoretical physics from the University of Pisa. There, he investigated various foundational aspects of physics: from a theory to tackle Schroedinger problem with time-dependent boundary conditions, to revealing Dark Matter at particle accelerators, and Quantum Gravity. He then moved to the University of Oxford to get his Ph.D. within the “Frontier of Quantum Physics” group led by Prof. Vlatko Vedral. There, he developed a new information theoretic approach, “Observable Statistical Mechanics” to understand and predict the dynamical emergence of thermalization in isolated quantum systems; and, applied advanced quantum information theory techniques to spin-networks: a tentative microscopic description of quantum gravity.

After graduate school he won the Templeton World Charity Foundation “Power of Information” grant and moved to the Complexity Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis. There, under the supervision of Prof. James P. Crutchfield, he studied Computational Mechanics and Dynamical Systems Theory. He then applied these concepts to the understanding of open quantum dynamics. The resulting work is currently being synthesized in a book “Geometric Quantum Mechanics: A dynamical systems approach to quantum dynamics”, to be published by the Oxford University Press at the end of 2024. Beyond the book, he has published work in some of the top journal in theoretical physics like

**Benjamin Owen**is excited to bring gravitational wave research and relativity classes to new populations of students and to build a group that embodies the ideal of inclusive excellence, as a new Professor in the department. He is looking forward to discovering novel gravitational wave sources, tying them to multi-messenger astronomical observations, and developing more mathematical and (quantum and classical) computational tools to search for themBen received his B.S. in Physics from Sonoma State University and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he studied gravitational waves and relativistic astrophysics under Kip Thorne. After postdocs at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ben was Professor of Physics at Penn State and Texas Tech. Ben received Caltech’s thesis of the year award, was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and (with the rest of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) received a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the historic discovery of gravitational waves.

After building the mathematical foundations of gravitational wave data analysis by applying differential geometry to signal processing, Ben discovered the most promising version of the Chandrasekhar-Friedman-Schutz instability in neutron stars and worked out many related properties of neutron star matter. Then he started developing and running supercomputing codes to search for new sources of gravitational waves. Ben is one of the few people to have made major contributions to all four data analysis groups of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA Collaboration (binary mergers, other bursts, continuous waves, and the stochastic background) in addition to his theory work. He has also made key contributions to using gravitational wave observations to constrain fundamental parameters in relativity and nuclear and particle physics. Ben currently serves as chair of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration’s Editorial Board and Head of Observational Analysis for Cosmic Explorer, a planned successor to LIGO. In the coming years LIGO, LISA, and Cosmic Explorer will probe the properties of the most extreme matter in the universe, reveal how galaxies merge, and test the limits of relativity and other modern theories of physics; and UMBC will be a key part of these pioneering explorations.

**Geoffrey Diederich**is joining the faculty in the department of physics at UMBC as an Assistant Professor. At UMBC, Geoffrey plans to run a research group that combines cutting edge condensed matter and quantum materials research with state-of-the-art optical spectroscopies. Geoffrey is also passionate about the diversification and democratization of scientific research and plans to build a group that represents the truly diverse population that love science.Geoffrey received their B.Sc. and M.Sc. in physics from Bowling Green State University, where they investigated the optical properties of colloidal quantum dots under Professor Mikhail Zamkov. Geoffrey then went to the University of Denver to obtain their Ph.D., where they studied ultrafast coherent spectroscopy under the supervision of Professor Mark Siemens. After graduate school, Geoffrey moved to the University of Washington, where they performed seminal work on the magnon dynamics in two-dimensional magnets under the supervision of Professor Xiaodong Xu.

During graduate school, Geoffrey received outstanding teaching honors from both the University of Denver and the American association of physics teachers, as well as the University of Denver Graduate Education Dissertation Fellowship. Geoffrey was then awarded the ORISE Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship to support their work. Their research has been published in high impact journals such as

*Nature*,*Nature Nanotechnology*, and*Nano Letters*, and they have been invited to present their work at conferences around the world.**Fabio Anzà**joins the department as Assistant Professor in the area of theoretical quantum information science. He and his group will focus on a modern frontier of quantum physics, Complex Quantum Systems: many-body, out-of-equilibrium, open quantum systems. In particular, their focus will be on understanding and estimating the information-theoretic resources embedded in their complex quantum dynamics.Fabio received his B.Sc. in physics from the University of Palermo, with a thesis at the interface between entanglement theory and statistical mechanics, and his M.Sc. in theoretical physics from the University of Pisa. There, he investigated various foundational aspects of physics: from a theory to tackle Schroedinger problem with time-dependent boundary conditions, to revealing Dark Matter at particle accelerators, and Quantum Gravity. He then moved to the University of Oxford to get his Ph.D. within the “Frontier of Quantum Physics” group led by Prof. Vlatko Vedral. There, he developed a new information theoretic approach, “Observable Statistical Mechanics” to understand and predict the dynamical emergence of thermalization in isolated quantum systems; and, applied advanced quantum information theory techniques to spin-networks: a tentative microscopic description of quantum gravity.

After graduate school he won the Templeton World Charity Foundation “Power of Information” grant and moved to the Complexity Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis. There, under the supervision of Prof. James P. Crutchfield, he studied Computational Mechanics and Dynamical Systems Theory. He then applied these concepts to the understanding of open quantum dynamics. The resulting work is currently being synthesized in a book “Geometric Quantum Mechanics: A dynamical systems approach to quantum dynamics”, to be published by the Oxford University Press at the end of 2024. Beyond the book, he has published work in some of the top journal in theoretical physics like

*Physical Review Letters*and*Physical Review X Quantum*.Posted: September 11, 2024, 4:06 PM