FQxI’s Lead Team works together to strengthen and drive the Institute, including, but not limited to, the development, coordination, and management of FQxI’s scientific and outreach programs.
FQxI’s Board of Directors is the governing body that safeguards the Institute by providing financial, legal, and organizational oversight.
The Scientific Advisory Council shares a wide range of expertise on FQxI’s scientific programs and helps with scientific planning efforts with the Lead Team and the Board.
The Board works with the Lead Team on strategic planning and determining the scientific direction of FQxI, with support from Scientific Advisory Council as needed.
Founders: Max Tegmark and Anthony Aguirre established FQxI in 2006.
Dave Sloan completed his Ph.D. in physics at the Pennsylvania State University in 2010. Following this, he did postdoctoral work at Utrecht and Cambridge before leading the physics of fine-tuning project at Oxford. In 2019, he joined the faculty of Lancaster University. His work focuses on mathematical approaches to the initial singularity in cosmology, issues related to quantum gravity, and foundational approaches to theoretical physics.
Kavita Rajanna has extensive nonprofit management, community outreach, and program development experience honed through her work as a director at the Leeway Foundation, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Youth Communication: Metro Atlanta, and a number of NGOs focused on cultural work, social justice, community building, and equity work. She has a Master’s degree from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies.
Zeeya Merali is a freelance journalist and author whose work has appeared in Scientific American, Nature, New Scientist, and Discover and on the BBC. She has published the popular physics book, A Big Bang in a Little Room, and two textbooks in collaboration with National Geographic. Her documentary, Aperture Fever (2006), about amateur astronomy, was broadcast on The History Channel, UK. She also worked on the NOVA television series The Fabric of the Cosmos. Merali has a first-class degree and a Master’s in natural sciences from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. in cosmology from Brown University.
Anthony Aguirre received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 2000 from Harvard University. He then spent three years as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton before accepting a Professorship at the physics department of the University of California at Santa Cruz. He has worked on a wide variety of topics in theoretical cosmology, ranging from intergalactic dust to galaxy formation to gravity physics to the large-scale structure of inflationary universes and the arrow of time.
Board of Directors
PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ
M. Amanda High
CHIEF IMPACT, DEVELOPMENT, AND INNOVATION OFFICER,
The Reinvestment Fund
Amanda High joined Reinvestment Fund in 2014, bringing over 20 years of experience leading high-impact initiatives for national and international non-profit and development organizations. Prior to this, Ms. High served as Head of Resource Mobilization at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). She has worked for the American Red Cross in Asia and Africa, and the National Philanthropic Trust. She completed Master’s degree coursework in Economics and International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FQxI
Scientific Advisory Council
Jim Al-Khalili CBE FRS is a distinguished professor of physics at the University of Surrey and one of Britain’s best-known science communicators. Prof. Al-Khalili received his Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1989 but has since moved sideways to focus his research on issues relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics, quantum thermodynamics, and quantum effects in biology. He is also a prominent author and broadcaster and has written 15 books on popular science and the history of science which have been translated into twenty-six languages. He is a regular presenter of science documentaries on the BBC and hosts the long-running weekly BBC Radio 4 program, The Life Scientific.
Adam Brown is a theoretical physicist who has researched topics including the big bang, inflation, the multiverse, black holes, quantum computation, space elevators, bubbles of nothing, and the long-term future of the universe, as well as the relationship between theoretical physics and computer science. He read physics and philosophy at Oxford University before moving to Columbia to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. This was followed by a postdoctorate at Princeton. He received a 2016 FQxI Zenith Grant for the Physics of the Observer program.
Jeremy Nicholas Butterfield, a Fellow of the British Academy, is a philosopher at the University of Cambridge. His research centers on a variety of topics in the philosophy of physics and philosophy of science, and is known for his work on the philosophical aspects of quantum theory, relativity theory, and classical mechanics. He co-founded the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics and is the author of multiple books, including The Arguments of Time and From Physics to Philosophy.
Sean Carroll is Homewood Professor of Natural Philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and he is also Fractal Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. His current interests include foundational questions in quantum mechanics, spacetime, statistical mechanics, complexity, and cosmology, with occasional dabblings elsewhere. His newest book, The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion (2022), introduces modern physics in an accessible way. He hosts the podcast, Mindscape, where he interviews smart people about all sorts of interesting ideas. He received a 2015 and 2018 FQxI Zenith Grant for the Physics of What Happens and the Agency in the Physical World programs.
David Chalmers is a professor of philosophy and neural science and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University. He is also an Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University and co-director of the PhilPapers Foundation. He is interested in the philosophy of mind, especially consciousness, and the foundations of cognitive science, physics, and technology, as well as the philosophy of language, metaphysics and epistemology, and many other areas.
Bob Coecke is Chief Scientist, and Head of Quantum-Compositional Intelligence at Quantinuum. Coecke leads Quantinuum’s Oxford-based Quantum-Compositional Intelligence research team. The team’s research efforts include work in Quantum Computational Linguistics (QCL) and its practical implementation, Quantum Natural Language Processing (QNLP). Coecke is a Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Emeritus Professor at Wolfson College, Oxford University, and a Visiting Fellow at Oxford’s Computer Science and Mathematics Departments. He is a founding member of the Quantum Physics and Logic, and Applied Category Theory (ACT) communities, the diamond-open-access journal, Compositionality, and the Cambridge University Press, Applied Category Theory book series.
Lídia del Rio
Lídia del Rio is a researcher in quantum information theory and foundations of physics at ETH Zurich. She is the co-founder of Quantum, an open journal for quantum science. She is also a co-founder of Squids.ch, an association for knowledge transfer in quantum science. Her research interests include modeling agents as physical systems in quantum theory and beyond; logic, knowledge, and security in quantum networks; and Foundations of quantum complexity theory. She received a 2016 and 2020 FQxI Zenith Grant for the Physics of the Observer and Consciousness in the Physical World programs.
Joshua Deutsch is a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He got his Ph.D. from Cambridge University and did postdoctoral work at Cambridge and at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara. He has worked in a variety of fields in condensed matter and biophysics, including nonequilibrium statistical mechanics, magnetic systems, polymer physics, biophysics at the molecular and cellular level, cancer diagnosis using microarrays, and genetic networks. He has also worked on quantum thermalization, such as the Eigenstate Thermalization Hypothesis and Observational Entropy. He has also done work to improve educational techniques.
George Ellis is considered to be a world leader in relativity and cosmology, co-writing The Large Scale Structure of Space–Time (1973) with Stephen Hawking. He pioneered a study to classify anisotropic solutions of Einstein’s equations and formalized the analysis of observables in cosmology. Almost 20 of his 500 published articles have appeared in the prestigious journal Nature. He is an active Quaker, and in 2004, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for his exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension. He has written and lectured extensively on complexity theory, philosophical issues, and social problems and was an active anti-apartheid campaigner. He was awarded the Order of the Star of South Africa by Nelson Mandela in 1999.
Surya Ganguli is an Associate Professor of Applied Physics, and by courtesy, of Neurobiology and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He is the Associate Director of the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. He is interested in in deep learning and neural networks. His academic career has been highly varied, from undergraduate degrees in Physics, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering at MIT to a foray into String Theory at Berkeley for his Ph.D. Prior to his appointment at Stanford, Surya Ganguli was a fellow of the Sloan-Swartz Center for Theoretical Neurobiology at UCSF’s Keck Center. He has won numerous awards, including the Terman Award, the McKnight Scholar Award, and a National Science CAREER Award, amongst many others. He is a prolific speaker and lecturer.
Alan Guth is the founder of cosmic inflation models in cosmology, a major branch of the discipline; he first presented this concept in 1981. He is the Viktor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics at MIT, which is where he undertook his degrees in Physics through to his Ph.D. He then proceeded to work on elementary particle physics at various universities. During his work at Cornell, he started working on the magnetic monopole problem with Henry Tye, which ended up shaping the rest of his career. In trying to find a solution to this, Guth proposed a modification to the theory of the Big Bang: cosmological inflation. He went on to further develop this work with Andrei Linde, Andreas Albrecht, and Paul Steinhardt. He returned to MIT as an Associate Professor in 1980. Guth has received many prestigious accolades, including the Kavli Prize in Astrophysics in 2014 with Andrei Linde and Alexei Starobinsky for pioneering cosmic inflation, the IOP’s Isaac Newton Medal, and the Dirac Medal (ICTP).
Jenann Ismael is the William H. Miller III Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. She was previously a professor of philosophy at Columbia University and an affiliate of the Zuckerman Institute. She obtained her M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton. She specializes in the philosophy of physics and metaphysics, in which she is an influential figure, along with the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind. In 2016, Forbes chose her book How Physics Makes Us Free (2016) as the Book of the Year. Her work includes examinations of the foundation of fundamental laws in physics, the nature of space and time, and quantum mechanics. She has held fellowships at Stanford, including a Mellon Fellowship and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in Social and Behavioral Sciences, as well as a Queen Elizabeth II fellowship at Sydney’s Centre for Time and fellowships from the Templeton Foundation and a 2019 FQxI Zenith Grant for the Intelligence in the Physical World program.
Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Robert Lawrence Kuhn is an international corporate strategist and investment banker. He obtained his Ph.D. in anatomy and brain research from the University of California, Los Angeles, following an SM in management at MIT. He has created, written, hosted, and produced numerous TV series relating to asking questions about the universe, consciousness, and the philosophy of religion, most notably, Closer To Truth. He is also a commentator for numerous international media channels, including the BBC, CNN, CCTV, South China Morning Post, and others. He has extensive involvement with the Chinese government and China’s leaders as an advisor, as well as acting as an advisor on strategies and transactions in China for multinational corporations. He is a frequent commentator on Chinese economics, finances, business, philosophy, and science. He holds China’s highest award, the China Reform Friendship Medal.
Hiranya Peiris is a professor of astrophysics at the University College of London. She is also the founding Director and current co-Director of the UCL Cosmoparticle Initiative. She has served as the Vice-President (Astronomy) of the Royal Astronomical Society and currently serves as a member of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the senior strategic advisory body of the research council that funds particle physics and astronomy in the United Kingdom. She was recently elected a Foreign Member in the Physics Class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Her interdisciplinary research is based on extracting fundamental physics from cosmological data. Dr. Peiris has led analyses of cosmological survey data from multiple major international facilities and making major contributions to theoretical cosmology and statistical astronomy. She received a 2010 FQxI Zenith Grant for the Nature of Time program.
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. Her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and dark matter. She also does research in Black feminist science, technology, and society studies. Nature recognized her as one of 10 people who shaped science in 2020, and Essence recognized her as one of 15 Black women breaking barriers in STEM. She is a co-founder of Particles for Justice. She received the LGBT+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award (2017) for improving conditions for marginalized people in physics and the American Physical Society Edward A. Bouchet Award (2021) for her contributions to particle cosmology. Her book, The Disordered Cosmos, won the 2021 LA Times Book Prize in the science and technology category, among other prizes, the book was also named the Best Book of 2021 by Publishers Weekly, Smithsonian Magazine, and Kirkus and was longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize in Caribbean Literature. She received a 2016 FQxI Zenith Grant for the Physics of the Observer program.
Martin Rees, Lord of Ludlow, is the fifteenth Astronomer Royal. He is an astrophysicist and cosmologist professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, where he was the former Director of the Institute of Astronomy for ten years. He is also a Fellow of and former Master of Trinity College. Between 2005 and 2010, he was the President of the Royal Society, for which he was a Research Professor between 1992 and 2003. His research interests cover a range of topics in astrophysics, from galaxy formation and cosmic jets, black holes, and gamma-ray bursts to topics in cosmology, such as multiverses and extraterrestrial life, which are speculative. He is a prolific author of over 500 research publications and popular science books. He has received many accolades and awards for his work, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Gruber Prize in Cosmology, the Albert Einstein World Award of Science, the IOP’s Isaac Newton Medal, the Dirac Medal (ICTP), the Heineman Prize for Astrophysics, the Templeton Prize, and the Crafoord Prize. He belongs to numerous foreign academies, including the US National Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy, the Japan Academy, and the Russian academy. In 2007, he received the Order of Merit. In 2005, he was appointed to the House of Lords. In recent years, he has become increasingly concerned with matters relating to the long-term future of humanity and the impact it is having on the planet. He is one of the co-founders of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, which is a multidisciplinary venture.
Carlo Rovelli is professor emeritus at Aix-Marseille University, Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute, adjoint professor in the Department of Philosophy, and core member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western Ontario University. Rovelli a founder of loop quantum gravity, has proposed the Relational Interpretation of quantum physics and a timeless formulation of classical and quantum mechanics. His work finds applications in quantum cosmology and black hole physics. His popular science books have been translated into more than 50 languages. He has promoted the Peace Dividend Initiative, signed by over fifty Nobel Laureates, calling for an international negotiation of a balanced military spending reduction. He has been included in the 2019 list of the 100 most influential ‘Global Thinkers’ by Foreign Policy and Prospect’s 2021 list of the World’s 50 Top Thinkers. He received FQxI’s Zenith Grants in the 2015 Physics of What Happens program and the 2018 Agency in the Physical World program.
Lee Smolin is a founding and senior faculty member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics since 2001. He is a theoretical physicist whose work primarily focuses on quantum gravity. He is one of the creators of, and a major contributor to, loop quantum gravity, together with Carlo Rovelli, and deformed special relativity. He has also made contributions to other areas of physics, including cosmology, via a proposal of a form of “cosmological natural selection”–a means by which to explain the laws of physics chosen. He has also contributed to the foundations of quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, as well as the philosophy of science and economics, and theoretical biology. He has authored over 150 scientific papers, along with numerous pieces and essays aimed at the general public. He has written four books relating to the philosophical questions raised in cosmology and contemporary physics, including The Trouble with Physics (2006), which was been highly praised in the media. He obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1979, which was followed by postdoctoral research posts at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the University of Chicago prior to faculty posts at Yale, Syracuse, and Pennsylvania State Universities. He has been voted twice on the list of 100 most influential intellectuals by Prospect and Foreign Policy Magazines. He was awarded the Inaugural Buchalter Cosmology Prize together with Marina Cortez and, in 2009, the Klopsteg Memorial Award. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Royal Society of Canada.
Susan Schneider is the Founding Director of the Center for the Future Mind at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), the former Distinguished Scholar at the Library of Congress, and the former NASA Chair at NASA. Dr. Schneider currently holds the William F. Dietrich Distinguished Professorship of Philosophy of Mind at the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute and the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. She is also the Co-director of the MCPR Lab at FAU’s Gruber Sandbox. Schneider obtained her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Rutgers University in 2003. Her work involves the development of AI systems utilizing both research in neuroscience and philosophical developments. Drawing on issues in the philosophy of mind, astrobiology, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of science, and AI, she writes about the mind, self, and the future of intelligence. Her work with Congress currently relates to technology policy, following her three-year project with NASA on the future of intelligence. Her work has been covered extensively in the media, including by the BBC World News, PBS, Forbes Magazine, the New York Times, the History Channel, and the Washington Post. She has appeared in films and TV shows such as the film Supersapiens, William Shatner’s TV series The Unexplained, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV show Star Talk.
PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ
PROFESSOR, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Max Tegmark is well known for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure; his scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality, all explored in “Our Mathematical Universe” (link below). He is an MIT physics professor with more than two hundred technical papers. He founded the Future of Life Institute in 2015 to focus more on his deep interest in using physics-based techniques to better understand biological and artificial intelligence (AI) and reducing large-scale harm, catastrophe, and existential risk.