Welcome new faculty: Asst. Professor Bryan Clark

Siv Schwink

Bryan Clark is a condensed matter theorist who specializes in the use and development of computational simulations and models to study the complexity of behaviors and interactions within many body and strongly correlated systems. In this work, Clark fully exploits today’s powerful supercomputing capabilities and he has written a wide range of highly efficient and massively parallel numerical codes, while developing novel numerical methods that improve the accuracy, parallelizability and efficiency of computing properties of many body systems. Clark was selected for an inaugural Blue Waters Professorship, which confers a significant commitment of Blue Waters computing resources, up to 240,000 node hours per year.

Clark’s broad research interests are reflected in his substantial list of publications and invited talks on a range subjects—supersolids, mesoscopic phases, water, the dynamics of cold atoms, and frustrated magnets.

Clark explains, “In this research area, there are no fast, exact methods, which is in some sense disappointing, because it’s hard to get answers. But in another sense, it’s exciting: it means the opportunity for fresh perspectives and for finding new methods is wide open. This is especially true with strongly correlated materials: in these systems, thinking about the behavior of individual electrons isn’t effective. If you take the material and parse it down to a simplified model, it’s still hard to solve. In my research, I apply computational tools to better understand how a material behaves and interacts, identify different phases of matter, and establish whether a material can be induced to exhibit interesting properties.”

At Illinois, Clark is looking forward to building a strong research group of graduate and undergraduate students interested in condensed matter, to explore superconducting systems, quantum dynamics, and frustrated magnetism.

“Having spent my graduate years at Illinois, I came to appreciate this department’s unique strength in condensed matter, its collegial atmosphere, and its driving passion for physics that permeates both faculty and students,” he comments. “This, along with strong peers on both the experimental and theoretical sides with whom to interact, makes me excited to return to Urbana.”

Clark joins the faculty as a member of the Institute of Condensed Matter Theory.

Clark received his bachelor’s degrees in physics and in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 2002. He received his doctoral degree in physics from the U. of I. in 2009, working under Professor David Ceperley.

Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois, Clark worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, CA, (fall 2013) and before that at the Microsoft Research-Station Q in Santa Barbara, CA, (beginning in 2012). Prior to that, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University (2009–2012).

Recent News

  • Research Funding

The United States Department of Energy awards $2.2 million to the FAIR Framework for Physics-Inspired Artificial Intelligence in High Energy Physics project, spearheaded by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ Center for Artificial Intelligence Innovation (CAII) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The primary focus of this project is to advance our understanding of the relationship between data and artificial intelligence (AI) models by exploring relationships among them through the development of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) frameworks. Using High Energy Physics (HEP) as the science driver, this project will develop a FAIR framework to advance our understanding of AI, provide new insights to apply AI techniques, and provide an environment where novel approaches to AI can be explored.

This project is an interdisciplinary, multi-department, and multi-institutional effort led by Eliu Huerta, principal investigator, director of the CAII, senior research scientist at NCSA, and faculty in Physics, Astronomy, Computational Science and Engineering and the Illinois Center for Advanced Studies of the Universe at UIUC. Alongside Huerta are co-PIs from Illinois: Zhizhen Zhao, assistant professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Coordinated Science Laboratory; Mark Neubauer, professor of physics, member of Illinois Center for Advanced Studies of the Universe, and faculty affiliate in ECE, NCSA, and the CAII; Volodymyr Kindratenko, co-director of the CAII, senior research scientist at NCSA, and faculty at ECE and Computer Science; Daniel S. Katz, assistant director of Scientific Software and Applications at NCSA, faculty in ECE, CS, and School of Information Sciences. In addition, the team is joined by co-PIs Roger Rusack, professor of physics at the University of Minnesota; Philip Harris, assistant professor of physics at MIT; and Javier Duarte, assistant professor in physics at UC San Diego.

  • Research

This year, 31 research teams have been awarded a combined 5.87 million node hours on the Summit supercomputer, the OLCF’s 200 petaflop IBM AC922 system. The research performed through the ALCC program this year will range from the impact of jets on offshore wind farms to the structure and states of quantum materials to the behavior of plasma within fusion reactors—all computationally intensive scientific applications necessitating the power of a large-scale supercomputer like Summit.

  • In Memoriam

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.