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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Pedro Vieira wins Sackler Prize

Quantum field theorist shares $100,000 award for exceptional work by researchers under the age of 40.

Perimeter researcher Pedro Vieira has been awarded the prestigious Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Physics for his novel and powerful work in quantum field theory.

Portrait of 2017 Sackler Prize winner Pedro Vieira in Perimeter Institute's atrium
Pedro Vieira

The $100,000 award from Tel Aviv University recognizes researchers under the age of 40 who have made outstanding and fundamental contributions to their fields. It is awarded alternately each year for physics and chemistry. Previous winners of the physics prize include Juan MaldacenaNima Arkani-Hamed, and Sara Seager.

Vieira was named co-winner for innovative work that has shed new light on the foundations of quantum field theory (QFT). QFT is central to physics: it is the mathematical “language” describing elementary particle interactions, the dynamics of many-body systems, critical phenomena, and many aspects of early universe cosmology. However, its power and precision break down due to quantum effects in many problems, such as describing the dynamics of quarks and gluons in atoms.

Vieira – who holds the Clay Riddell Paul Dirac Chair at Perimeter and holds a joint UNESP-Perimeter-SAIFR professorship at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics at the South American Institute for Fundamental Research (ICTP-SAIFR) – is engaged in a multi-year quest to understand this “strong coupling” regime. Using a combination of approaches including integrability, holography, the conformal bootstrap, and the S-matrix bootstrap, his work has led to several breakthroughs.

He shares the 2018 award with Zohar Komargodski, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and a Perimeter Institute Visiting Fellow. Both Komargodski and Vieira are principal investigators in the Simons Collaboration on the Nonperturbative Bootstrap.

Perimeter Director Neil Turok praised Vieira for his work, and for his efforts to broaden the reach and impact of theoretical physics through a partnership with ICTP-SAIFR.

“We are delighted with the news that Pedro Vieira shares this year’s Sackler prize,” Turok said.

“We hired Pedro more or less fresh from his PhD because of the exceptional promise he showed. He has more than fulfilled that by tackling and solving some of the hardest problems in mathematical physics, involving four-dimensional quantum field theories of fearsome technical complexity.

“Pedro is not only a virtuoso scientifically, he is an incredibly positive individual who is making a big difference in educational and scientific outreach in South America.”

The prize adds to Vieira’s reputation as a young researcher to watch. His work has provided deep new insights into the structure of quantum field theory and opened innovative and fruitful new lines of investigation. He is also a dedicated mentor of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students – and is the founder of the popular Mathematica Summer School.

The far-reaching importance of his research has already been recognized with both the Gribov medal of the European Physical Society and a Sloan Foundation Fellowship in 2015.

The prize will be awarded at a special ceremony at Tel Aviv University in March, 2018.

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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