Yuri Lensky

Hertz Fellow: Yuri Lensky
School

Stanford University

Area of Study

Theoretical Physics

Fellowship Years

2016 - present

Yuri Lensky is particularly interested in understanding large-and strongly-correlated quantum systems, where many such simple puzzles lead to profound insights and connections. An example from his current research, just asking why, when, and how the standard thermal ensemble of quantum mechanics work has led connections to random matrix theory, quantum chaos, and even potentially quantum gravity.

His first exposure to physics was at a local library, two words he had only seen as props in Sherlock Holmes stories, “chemistry and physics” (not the CRC handbook), adorned the cover of a textbook. His studies of carbon nanotube manufacture in high school led to his first exposure to MIT and research-grade theoretical physics at the Research Science Institute program, where he tested classical methods of optimizing quantum information channels. As an undergraduate he explored research in computer science and math, but finally returned to physics under Professor Wolfgang Ketterle.

In the spring of his junior year, while doing what was a standard numerical calculation for the lab, he noticed there was not a systematic way to construct maximally localized wave functions (MLWFS) that were needed for the simulations. At the same time, he was beginning a study of graphene physics under Professor Leonid Levitov. In the middle of the summer the topic of MLWFs came up, and Professor Levitov pointed out that this was a new method altogether, and of use to other groups! That same summer he and Professor Levitov worked out a novel solution to another simply stated problem (an electron in an electric field!). These experiences focused him on learning the deep structure of physics by seriously studying questions at least anyone in the field could ask. Now at Stanford University, as a first year graduate student, Yuri is pursuing his PhD in theoretical physics, with the support of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship.

While born in Russia, Yuri is from New York City, New York