Steven Flammia has joined Virginia Tech as director of the Innovation Campus’ new Center for Quantum Architecture and Software Development. Flammia, who has an appointment of professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, brings to Virginia Tech a unique combination of experience in academia and industry. He was most recently a principal research scientist for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Center for Quantum Computing in Pasadena, Calif.

As the Innovation Campus’ Quantum Computing Lead, Flammia will be charged with driving strategy and building the team for the new Center for Quantum Architecture based in Alexandria, including spearheading the hiring of additional faculty scientists.

“We are excited to have Steve on board leading the Innovation Campus’s research efforts in Quantum,” said Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. “This new Center will build upon Virginia Tech’s existing strengths in Quantum Computing to further raise the profile and reputation of Virginia Tech as one of the leading institutions in the nation in quantum technology.”

The creation of the Center for Quantum Architecture and Software Development at the future Innovation Campus was first announced in late 2021 as part of a $12.5 million gift to Virginia Tech from Northrop Grumman. The gift – dedicated to quantum research and education – included Flammia’s position with the Innovation Campus.

During Flammia’s tenure with AWS, the company released a new custom-designed quantum chip aimed at reducing errors in quantum computers. He helped lead the efforts for calibration and characterization of quantum devices during his time there.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Steve to our quantum family at Virginia Tech. Steve brings leading expertise in the field of quantum validation and verification and also expands our strengths in quantum error correction” said Sophia Economou, director of the Virginia Tech Center for Quantum Information Science and Engineering (VTQ) in Blacksburg and the T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Chair in Physics at the College of Science. “All of us at VTQ are looking forward to collaborating closely with him and our sister quantum center in Northern Virginia.”

The field of quantum computing seeks to build computers where the computation is based on the laws of physics known as quantum mechanics. These are believed to be fundamentally more powerful than conventional computers such as laptops or even supercomputers which rely on so-called “classical” laws of physics that are familiar to our direct experience.

Flammia brings to his new role research interests in quantum information theory and applications of the theory to a broad range of topics, including condensed matter theory, topologically ordered phases, tensor networks, error correction, quantum optics, precision metrology, and classical statistical inference including machine learning. In a fast moving field that increasingly blends industry and academia, theory and experiment, Flammia brings experience in all four of these realms.

Flammia previously worked as a professor at the University of Sydney in Australia, a principal research scientist at the University of Washington, and a postdoctoral researcher at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. Throughout his career, he has published more than 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals and garnered more than 9,000 citations. Several of his theoretical results have led to experimental progress breakthroughs in the study of characterization, verification, and validation of quantum devices.

Flammia holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of New Mexico.

The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus has a research focus on AI/ML, Wireless and Next Gen Technology, Quantum Architecture and Software Development, and Intelligent Interfaces. The first Academic Building for the Campus is officially opening for the spring semester 2025.

Virginia Tech employed PSIRCH, a division of Berkhemer Clayton, Inc., to assist with the international executive search for this position.

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