Lucas K. Wagner

Assistant Professor


Lucas K. Wagner

Primary Research Area

  • Condensed Matter Physics
2131 Engineering Sciences Building

For more information


Prof. Wagner received his bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University in 2002 and his PhD from the same institution in 2006. He then worked as a postdoc at Berkeley for two years, followed by a second postdoc at MIT in 2009. In 2011, he joined the physics department at Illinois.

He has pioneered the use of many-body electronic methods, in particular quantum Monte Carlo methods, to treat interacting systems of electrons in materials. His group has used these techniques to clarify the physics of strongly correlated systems such as the high temperature superconducting cuprates and vanadium dioxide. His group has developed new techniques to derive the collective physics of interacting quantum particles from these detailed calculations using data-based techniques.

Prof. Wagner is also active in software development, to enhance the availability of quantum many-body methods. He developed the QWalk package for quantum Monte Carlo, which scales these calculations to more than 1 million threads. Recently, he has been developing the pyscf/pyqmc ecosystem for many-body quantum projects.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Interested undergraduates should contact me to discuss projects.

Research Statement

I am interested in using high performance computation to simulate complex systems, and draw physical insights from those simulations. One major example of this is using quantum Monte Carlo calculations to accurately describe the wave functions of realistic models of electrons and nuclei, including the correlations that electrons have with one another. I am particularly interested in drawing conceptual information about how the electrons move in a correlated way. This research area can connect directly to experiments, since the calculations are realistic, and also connect to more coarse-grained theory, by solving for the effective physics of electronic systems.

Teaching Honors

  • Nordsieck award for teaching excellence in physics (Spring 2020)

Semesters Ranked Excellent Teacher by Students

Fall 2020PHYS 213, 214
Fall 2016PHYS 213
Spring 2014PHYS 212

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • 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.

  • Accolades

Thirty-eight research groups at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been allocated new computation time on the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This round of allocations provides over 17 million node-hours, equivalent to over half a billion core hours, and is valued at over $10.5 million, helping Illinois researchers push the boundaries of innovation and frontier science discovery.