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Third USC Viterbi professor wins NSF Career Award

Computer scientist Ben Reichardt

Ben Reichardt, assistant professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award, joining computer scientist Yan Liu and chemical engineer Malancha Gupta as the school’s third faculty member to land the prestigious prize this year.

Reichardt won a five-year $507,000 grant for research on procedures for quantum computation. The award supports the early career development of talented up-and-coming scholars.

“We are delighted by Ben Reichardt’s NSF Career Award since it recognizes his significant contributions to quantum computing,” said Sandeep Gupta, chair of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering-Systems. “More importantly, this award will support Ben’s ongoing research that we anticipate to dramatically improve the understanding of quantum entanglement and to produce powerful protocols for quantum key distribution that will provide unprecedented levels of security in communications.”

Reichardt and his team are designing new algorithms that would allow researchers to find better and fuller ways to leverage quantum computing’s potential. His work, he said, could potentially improve processing and memory storage.

In addition, Reichardt is working on infrastructure that would, in principal, allow for more secure communication via quantum key distribution systems. It would do so by eliminating side-channel attacks. Such enhancements would lead to better and more secure satellite communication, among other benefits.

Reichardt said he enjoys the challenges of working in quantum computing because of the many research possibilities in the nascent and wide-open field.

“I don’t know exactly how long before quantum computers are built, but it seems like a really good time to be working on them,” Reichardt said.

He also likes that his quantum computing work combines math, computer science, electrical engineering and physics, allowing him to cross traditional academic boundaries and work with academics in a variety of disciplines. “I get bored easily,” Reichardt said with a laugh.

A native of San Francisco, Reichardt earned a Bachelor of Science in math at Stanford University in 2001 and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2006. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology’s Institute for Quantum Information from 2006 to 2008.

Reichardt then headed north to Canada, where he became an assistant professor at the School of Computer Science and Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. After nearly four years there, Reichardt joined USC in early 2012.

He said working at USC has given him the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded scholars working on quantum computing.

“And unlike in Canada, I can go running outside every day here in Southern California,” Reichardt quipped.

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Third USC Viterbi professor wins NSF Career Award

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