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Condensed Matter Physicist and Biophysicist join ICTP

23/10/2015 - Trieste

ICTP's Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics (CMSP) section has enriched its research base with the hiring of two scientists who will help expand the section's research in quantum computing and non-equilibrium dynamics of quantum systems, computational chemistry and molecular biophysics.

Rosario Fazio comes to ICTP from the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, where he maintains his position as professor of condensed matter physics. Fazio is interested in the quantum world: he investigates such phenomena as quantum transport in nanostructures, quantum thermodynamics and quantum information processing.

Rosario Fazio

"At the beginning I was interested in quantum effects at the microscopic level in condensed matter systems in nanostructures; I was studying quantum transport, coherence, interference in those systems," explains Fazio, detailing his research interests. "Then, I moved towards quantum information, with interests in condensed matter implementation of quantum information processing, so how to build a quantum computer with solid state systems."

Fazio's previous positions include appointments at the University of Catania (where he obtained his PhD), and the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA); he has an ongoing collaboration with the National University of Singapore's Centre for Quantum Technologies.

He finds ICTP's mission and the dynamic environment exciting and unique. "There are  many people passing through, and this is very strange for me, because in a standard university you do not see these numbers of people from such diverse fields coming around and having the chance to interact with them." He sees a distinct advantage to this setting: "If you manage to be flexible in your mind, then you can have many more ideas than usual."

CMSP's other recent hire, Ali Hassanali, first came to ICTP in 2013 as a long-term visiting scientist, and has now been appointed as a junior research scientist. His research interests include the modeling of water and  biomolecules from first principles, solvation phenomena near organic and inorganic materials and hydrogen bonding interactions in aqueous systems. He earned a PhD in biophysics from Ohio State University and undertook postdoctoral work at ETH Zurich and the University of Lugano under the direction of the physicist Michele Parrinello.

Ali Hassanali

Hassanali's profile reflects the growing interdisciplinary nature of the CMSP section, where group scientists investigate a wide range of topics, from atomistic structure simulations to nanophysics. He sees CMSP's work as a direct extension of ICTP's mission to support science in the developing world. "There's a strong element related to capacity building, which is that in places like Africa there's a great need to develop the area of computation, in the context of computational chemistry and modelling of biological systems, which has been lacking in condensed matter." He adds, "ICTP is the only place in the world where you can do high qualilty,  competitive research, as well as development of science in places that I feel a strong sense of commitment to, like Africa."