John Preskill is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and Director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech. Preskill received his Ph.D. in physics in 1980 from Harvard. He was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows and Associate Professor of Physics at Harvard before joining the Caltech faculty in 1983; he became the John D. MacArthur Professor in 2002, and the Richard P. Feynman Professor in 2010. Preskill is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a two-time recipient of the Associated Students of Caltech Teaching Award. He has mentored more than 50 Ph.D. students and more than 45 postdoctoral scholars at Caltech, many of whom are now leaders in their research areas.
Preskill’s background is in particle physics and quantum field theory, but in the 1990s he got excited about the possibility of solving otherwise intractable problems by exploiting quantum physics. He has proposed potential applications of quantum computers to quantum simulation and other hard problems, and has developed methods for protecting quantum systems from decoherence using cleverly designed software and hardware. He is especially intrigued by the ways our deepening understanding of quantum information and quantum computing can be applied to other fundamental issues of physics, such as the classification of topological phases of matter, nonequilibrium quantum dynamics, the quantum properties of black holes, and the quantum structure of spacetime.