Spotlight on new faculty: Nicolas Yunes, Gravitation

Jessica Raley for Illinois Physics

The Department of Physics at Illinois welcomes an extraordinary set of ten new faculty members this year. Eight of them have arrived on campus and have begun setting up their labs and settling into life in Champaign-Urbana. Two more faculty are set to arrive in January. We will feature each of them here over the next couple of weeks. Check back regularly to learn more about the exciting work these new faculty members are doing.

Professor Nico Yunes (right) meets with postdoc Hector Silva (left) and graduate student Scott Perkins.
Professor Nico Yunes (right) meets with postdoc Hector Silva (left) and graduate student Scott Perkins.


Nico Yunes is a theoretical relativist, who studies gravitational waves, black holes, and neutron stars. With the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in its third observing run, new gravitational waves are discovered almost weekly. Nico hopes to use these waves to answer some of the most puzzling questions about the universe, such as “Why is the universe expanding at an accelerated rate,” and “Why is there more matter than antimatter?” Nico is also interested in new phases of matter, in particular the possibility that gravitational waves may reveal that the core of a neutron star contains a quark-gluon plasma. Nico’s most important results to date are the development of a framework to carry out gravitational wave tests of general relativity in a theory-agnostic way, as well as the discovery of universal relations in neutron stars that have aided in constraining the equation of state of supranuclear matter with gravitational waves.

For more information about Nico's research, or to inquire about joining his group, please click here.

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Jim was widely viewed as one of the best teachers in the Physics Department. He was frequently listed in the University’s roster of excellent instructors and won awards for his classroom skills. In 2012, he received the Arnold T. Nordsieck Physics Award for Teaching Excellence for his “patient, insightful, and inspiring physics teaching, one problem at a time, that encourages undergraduate students to take their understanding to a new level.”

  • Research

Now a team of theoretical physicists at the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory (ICMT) in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by Illinois Physics Professor Philip Phillips, has for the first time exactly solved a representative model of the cuprate problem, the 1992 Hatsugai-Kohmoto (HK) model of a doped Mott insulator.

  • Alumni News

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