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Alumni Success

Highlights of ICTP alumni achievements

Alumni Success
Alumni Success

02/10/2019 - Trieste

Estelle Inack, an ICTP Diploma Programme graduate and former SISSA/ICTP PhD student, has recently spent a period of time as a visitor at the prestigious Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) in Santa Barbara, California.

Inack is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, in the area of condensed matter physics. Her main research interests include machine learning, quantum computing and quantum Monte Carlo methods. After a Master’s degree in Physics in her home country of Cameroon, she arrived at ICTP in 2013, where she completed her year of Postgraduate Diploma Programme in the Condensed Matter section, specialising in optimization methods with a statistical mechanics approach.

During her time as a researcher in Trieste she started to note the connections between her approach and those of most modern machine learning techniques. She then began a collaboration with Perimeter Institute’s researcher Roger Melko, who also coordinates the KITP programme “Machine Learning for Quantum Many-Body Physics”.

This programme gave her the chance to visit the Kavli Institute and continue exploring the connections between quantum many-body physics and modern machine learning techniques. During her visit at KITP she was able to meet many other researchers who, like her, are interested in the study of machine learning for quantum physics and sharing new ideas.

Inack’s visit at KITP was made even more special by an episode that she herself narrated in the Kavli Institute newsletter. When she arrived in Santa Barbara, the first thing she noticed in the KITP Residence was the beautiful Hall of Flags, a colourful corridor in which all the nationalities of the currently visiting scientists are represented. She asked if the flag of her native country, Cameroon, could be added to the wall, as she had noticed it was not on display. Not only was her wish granted, but she also got the chance to put up the flag herself and, maybe by coincidence, right next to the Italian one. “Science is universal” wrote Estelle, “and I am very pleased to see that this is the prevailing message even in a leading institute like KITP.”


Dishant Pancholi, an ICTP Simons Associate and former post-doctoral student, and Aninda Sinha, an ICTP Prize winner in 2016, have been awarded the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, India’s most coveted science and technology award, in the field of mathematics and physics respectively.

Pancholi conducts his research at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Taramani, India, working mainly in the fields of symplectic geometry and topology. Aninda Sinha is an associate professor at the Center for High Energy Physics, in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize is awarded every year by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to Indian researchers who have produced outstanding research or work in science and technology.

First awarded in 1958, it is named after the founding director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar. Atish Dabholkar, ICTP’s incoming director, won the prize in 2006.


Three former ICTP associates have recently published books that have been added to the catalogue of ICTP’s Marie Curie Library.


Utkir A. Rozikov, an ICTP Junior Associate from 2005 to 2010 and currently a professor at the Institute of Mathematics in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, published the book “An introduction to mathematic billiards” (World Scientific), a systematic review of the theory of dynamical systems. The book opens with the definition of a “mathematical billiard” as “a mechanical system consisting of a billiard ball on a table of any form”. This ball can move along a trajectory that depends only on its initial position and velocity.

The book then presents some already known results on the behaviour of billiards and their connections to elementary mathematics, geometry and physics. The study of these trajectories are indeed relevant because they can answer various problems in physics and mathematics and can also have several applications in fields such as biology and medicine.

Rozikov wrote another book in 2013, “Gibbs measures on Cayley trees”, focusing on probability theory, that is also available at ICTP’s Marie Curie Library.

Hassan Raza, ICTP Junior Associate in condensed matter physics and founding director of the Centre for Fundamental Research (CFR), in Islamabad, Pakistan, has published the book “Freshman lectures on nanotechnology”.

In this book the author tries to present an outline of the “art, science and engineering” of nanotechnology, a field that has become crucial for designing materials, devices, and systems at the nanoscale. At this scale quantum mechanics governs the properties of the materials, that are dramatically different from those at a macroscopic and microscopic scale. For this reason, nanotechnology is often considered revolutionary for science and technology.

As a part of the series “Undergraduate lecture notes in physics” published by Springer, the book is presented as a smooth introduction to the fundamental concepts of nanotechnology and is intended for first-year undergraduate students. The theoretical concepts are accompanied and enriched by the description of their almost endless applications, such as those in computing, spintronics, renewable energy, agriculture and aerospace technology.

Raza had published another book on nanoscience in 2012, “Graphene nanoelectronics: metrology, synthesis, properties and applications”, available at ICTP’s Marie Curie Library.

Edson Denis Leonel, an ICTP Junior Associate from 2010 to 2015 and now a professor of physics at Universidade Estadual Paulista in Rio Claro, Brazil, has recently published the book “Invariância de escala em sistemas dinâmicos não lineares” (Scale invariance in nonlinear dynamic systems).

Leonel discusses the fact that some observables studied in non-linear systems show properties that can be derived from scale laws, leading to scale invariance. The book is divided in chapters, each equipped with a brief summary and useful exercises, and is suitable as an introduction to the theme of scale invariance in nonlinear dynamical systems for both undergraduate courses or at postgraduate level.

Leonel also published in 2015 the book “Fundamentos da física estatística” (Fundaments of statistical physics). Both are in Portuguese and are available at ICTP’s Marie Curie Library.


---- Marina Menga