Joe Polchinski is the Yzurdiaga Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a permanent member of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). He obtained his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in 1980. After postdocs at SLAC and Harvard, he was at the University of Texas at Austin from 1984 to 1992, before moving to the KITP. Polchinski is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been awarded the Dannie Heineman Prize in Mathematical Physics of the APS, the Dirac Medal of the ICTP, and the 2013 and 2014 Physics Frontiers Prize.
Polchinski works broadly in theoretical physics, including quantum field theory, string theory and gravity. His research is largely centered on the search for a theory of quantum gravity, building on the principle of AdS/CFT duality and on thought experiments such as the black hole information paradox. The firewall argument has revealed limits in our understanding and suggested many new directions. A key question is whether the framework of quantum mechanics needs to be modified in gravity. His current work focuses on connections among holography, quantum error correction, entanglement and quantum chaos.