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Investigator Spotlights

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Dartmouth researchers were awarded $28.3 million during July, including $13.7 million in new and competing awards. Click here to view the complete list of awards, as reported by the Office of Sponsored Projects. Here, Vox spotlights three investigators and their work:

Lorenza Viola, associate professor of physics and astronomy

 Lorenza Viola(Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

National Science Foundation
ARRA: High-Fidelity Quantum Information Processing via Dynamical Quantum Error Control

Quiet, please: In quantum information processing, where information is conveyed using states of qubits—quantum bits—rather than the 1s and 0s of classical information processing, “noise” (interactions with the surrounding environment) can easily corrupt the information being processed and cause the quantum computer to “decohere.” Viola’s research looks for ways to cancel decoherence by actively controlling the system.

Next steps: Previously, Viola notes, she has “focused on ‘dynamical decoupling’ methods for suppressing decoherence while quantum information is stored in the system.” This study “aims to go beyond quantum storage, by also removing decoherence while generic ‘quantum gates’—elementary building blocks of quantum circuits—are implemented.”

Teamwork: Physics and Astronomy Postdoctoral Fellow Kaveh Khodjasteh is a key contributor. Viola also has “an ongoing collaboration with colleagues at the University of Southern California.”

Russell P. Hughes, the Frank R. Mori Professor of Chemistry

Russell Hughes(Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

National Science Foundation
Reactions of Transition Metal Perfluoroalkyl and Perfluoralkylidene Complexes

Replacing CFCs: Some molecules containing carbon-fluorine bonds—familiarly, CFCs—can harm the environment, while others play important roles in products from pharmaceuticals to Teflon, Hughes explains. His research pursues potential alternatives to CFCs, seeking “useful molecules which do not cause atmospheric environmental problems.”

New methods: “Building on new chemistry generated in our group over the past decade,” Hughes says, “this project aims to generate new chemical methods for breaking carbon-fluorine bonds coupled with making new carbon-hydrogen and carbon-carbon bonds.”

Teamwork: Hughes won the 2010 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry, bringing, he notes, “national and international recognition to the research work that my graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral students have done over the years.” Professor Arnie Rheingold, at the University of California, San Diego, assists the research team with molecular structures.

Meredith Kelly, assistant professor of earth sciences

Meredith Kelly(Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

National Science Foundation

Collaborative Research: Sensitivity of Local Glaciers in Central East Greenland to Holocene Climate Change

Déjà vu?: Shrinking glaciers in the Scoresby Sund region of Greenland are revealing partially fossilized plants that grew when the glaciers were even smaller than they are now. This study, explains Kelly, will address “the widely-held view that the scale of glacier and ice sheet change being observed today in Greenland is not unique in the Holocene epoch,” which began approximately 10,000 years ago. The glaciers’ current extent, she explains, makes it possible for scientists to study the state of the glaciers during those earlier warm times, as well as the plants and animals living then.

Goals: “We will attempt to establish a longer-term baseline for climate and glacier extents in Greenland, which will be useful for understanding present and future climate change,” she says.

Teamwork: Professor Brenda Hall (University of Maine, Orono) and Professor Thomas Lowell (University of Cincinnati) are co-principal investigators. Dartmouth earth sciences Ph.D. student Laura Levy, and lab manager Jenny Locke are also part of the project.

By KELLY SEAMAN

Last Updated: 9/28/09