The University of New Mexico is in a unique position to continue to strengthen a 25-year track record of excellence in Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE) research after receiving a $1 million grant. This week, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced UNM is one of only three universities awarded under its Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) Capacity Building competition.
DEPSCoR is a capacity-building program designed to strengthen the basic research infrastructure at institutions of higher education in underutilized states. The DoD received 25 competitive Capacity Building proposals, 9 were selected to move forward after initial review, and 3 were eventually awarded.
“DEPSCoR allows us to tap into institutions that have enormous basic research capability – but have been underutilized by DoD – to enhance U.S. science and engineering research capacity both now and in the long term,” said Bindu Nair, DoD Basic Research Office director. “Since the next scientific breakthrough could come from any corner of our nation, growing the department’s ecosystem of creative and insightful researchers is critical to our national security.”
Currently, UNM is home to The Center for Quantum Information and Control (CQuIC) that is focused on theoretical foundations of QISE, and the Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM) that has a long record of conducting research on quantum photonic materials and devices.
The two-year $1 million grant will be used to advance the research ecosystem at UNM by hiring new faculty in photonics-based system-level experimental QISE; this will help provide synergy and critical mass in certain targeted areas of interest to the DoD. Some targeted areas include quantum computing, quantum communications, and workforce development in QISE-relevant areas. The grant will also be used to create and implement a new interdisciplinary graduate degree program in QISE at UNM.
“We are thrilled to have been selected for this prestigious award,” Vice President for Research Ellen Fisher said. “This type of investment in capacity building represents a key opportunity for UNM to be forward-thinking in our ability to meet the cutting-edge research, innovation, and education needs of the generations to come.”
UNM Chemistry Professor and Vice President for Research Ellen Fisher will serve as principal investigator on the project, along with Electrical and Computer Engineering Distinguished Professor Marek Osinski. Other UNM key faculty included on the project include Professor Ganesh Balakrishnan, Associate Professor Daniel Feezell, and Associate Professor Francesca Cavallo, all from Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to strengthen QISE research at UNM in two areas we have been long lacking. When combined with the new interdisciplinary QISE graduate program, this will place UNM among the top leaders in the field,” Osinski said.
Fisher and Osinski say part of the grant will also go toward the establishment of graduate-level QISE teaching laboratories and the purchasing of related lab equipment. They say this DEPSCoR award will afford UNM the opportunity to advance its regional partnerships with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base, as well as increase capacity at UNM to contribute to growing a regional "quantum hub" in New Mexico, alongside Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.
“This DEPSCoR award will serve as a foundational element as we expand and build upon UNM’s rich history of excellence in quantum science and technology through new partnerships and programs that will generate new knowledge and create the technologies and workforce of tomorrow,” Fisher said.
The other two universities selected as part of the DEPSCoR Capacity Building competition are George Washington University and the University of South Dakota.
The University of New Mexico (UNM) is the state’s largest university serving nearly 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students across its main and branch campuses. UNM is home to the state’s only school of law, medicine, pharmacy, and architecture, and New Mexico’s only academic health center. UNM fosters a thriving environment where cutting-edge research and creative endeavors flourish, and is recognized as the state’s only Top Tier Research University (R1). Designated as a Hispanic-Serving and First-Gen Forward Institution, UNM offers more than 200-degree programs. Learn more about our Lobo community here.