From Perimeter Institute: “New Perimeter Institute Director among world’s most influential scientists”

Perimeter Institute
From Perimeter Institute

February 28, 2019

Colin Hunter
Director of Communications & Media
chunter@perimeterinstitute.ca
519-569-7600 x4474

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Taking the reins: String theorist Robert Myers becomes the third director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. (Courtesy: Perimeter Institute)

Robert Myers, an internationally recognized Canadian theoretical physicist, has been named the Institute’s new Director after an exhaustive international search.

Robert Myers a theoretical physicist consistently ranked among the world’s most influential scientists, has been appointed the new Director of Perimeter Institute.

The appointment follows an exhaustive global search and was made with the unanimous approval of a search committee of top international scientists and Perimeter’s Board of Directors.

“We are thrilled to move into the next exciting phase of Perimeter’s evolution under Rob Myers’ leadership,” said Perimeter Founder and Board Chair Mike Lazaridis. “Rob’s contributions as a scientist are second to none. He is highly respected throughout the global physics community, and he possesses the drive and vision to advance Perimeter at a particularly exciting time in the history of the Institute and of physics more generally.”

Along with the directorship, Myers will hold the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics, a prestigious position supported by a $4 million gift made to the Institute by BMO Financial Group in 2010.

Myers has been recognized as one of the world’s most influential scientists: in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, he appeared on the Thomson Reuters/Clarivate Analytics list of “Highly Cited Researchers,” highlighting researchers whose citations rank in the top one percent of their fields.

Myers’ research focuses on foundational questions in quantum theory and gravity. His contributions span a broad range, from quantum field theory to gravitational physics, black holes, and cosmology. Several of his discoveries, such as the “Myers effect” and “linear dilaton cosmology” have been influential in seeding new lines of research. His current research focuses on the interplay of quantum entanglement and spacetime geometry, and on applying new tools from quantum information science to the study of quantum gravity.

“It’s an honour and a privilege for me to be chosen as Perimeter’s new Director,” said Myers. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to lead Perimeter into the future, to build on the legacy of Perimeter’s first 20 years, and to continue to fulfill the founding vision of Perimeter as a world-leading centre in research, training, and outreach.”

Originally from Deep River, Ontario, Myers received his PhD from Princeton and held positions at the University of California and McGill University before joining Perimeter in 2001 as a founding faculty member. His arrival at Perimeter caught the attention of other leading physicists, many of whom have ultimately followed his lead. Perimeter is now, in the words of the late Stephen Hawking, “one of the world’s leading centres for theoretical physics, if not the leading centre.”

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Neil Turok at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. (Courtesy: Gabriela Secara)

The appointment of Myers as Director follows the 10-year directorship of Neil Turok, who remains at Perimeter as Director Emeritus and a full-time researcher leading the Institute’s new cosmology research hub, the Centre for the Universe at Perimeter Institute.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as Perimeter’s Director for the past decade and to work with so many wonderful colleagues to build a unique centre for basic research, training, and public engagement,” said Turok. “Although I’m stepping down from that role, I’m not going anywhere. Cosmology has provided us with some amazing puzzles and clues about how the universe works. I’m greatly looking forward to focusing full time on understanding them. I could not imagine a better place to do so.”

Turok added his full enthusiastic support to his successor: “Rob is the perfect choice to lead Perimeter into the future. He has been my closest advisor throughout my time as Director, and I am delighted to remain at Perimeter as a researcher with him charting the course for the Institute.”

Julie Barker-Merz, Senior Vice-President for the South Western Ontario Division of BMO Financial Group, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair will now be held by Dr. Rob Myers. We know he is a scientist befitting the Chair’s namesake and will lead Perimeter into a very bright future.”

Myers’ appointment as Perimeter’s Director comes at a time of exciting progress in many crucial areas of fundamental physics, from quantum to cosmos. The LIGO collaboration detected gravitational waves a full century after Einstein predicted their existence; the CHIME telescope in British Columbia is detecting fast radio bursts at an unprecedented rate; the Event Horizon Telescope is expected to capture humanity’s first image of a black hole; and quantum information research is bridging theory and experiment on the path to revolutionary new technologies. Perimeter researchers and partners in Ontario’s Quantum Valley ecosystem are central to these and many other fast-developing areas of fundamental physics.

CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment -A partnership between the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Yale and the National Research Council in British Columbia, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, British Columbia, CA

EHT map

“Perimeter is an environment unlike any other in which researchers from around the globe collaborate across disciplines in search of profound new truths,” said Myers. “Breakthroughs await where brilliant people, bold ideas, and diverse cultures intersect.”

Myers said he hopes to inspire his colleagues every day to embrace the ideals on which Perimeter was founded. “Be bold, be adventurous, be audacious in our aspirations to advance humanity through exceptional science,” said Myers.

“I’d like us all to take on that quality which helped Perimeter’s previous Directors bring the Institute so far in such a short time: namely, to not be intimidated by the impossible, but rather be determined to make it a reality.”

COMMENTS OF WELCOME AND SUPPORT:

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, allow me to congratulate Dr. Neil Turok on the past decade of leadership, and to welcome the appointment of Dr. Rob Myers as the new Director of Perimeter Institute. I know Rob Myers will maintain Perimeter’s high standard of research excellence, and provide stellar training experiences for the next generation of critical thinkers in an environment of equality and opportunity. So to Rob, keep up the amazing work. The team you now lead and the discoveries they pursue can help transform research and technology – and ultimately our collective future.” – The Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Canadian Minister of Science and Sport

“I am pleased to welcome Rob Myers as the Institute’s new Director. Perimeter and Quantum Valley are helping create the technology of tomorrow, while helping Ontario remain competitive in advanced research, new knowledge and innovations that will shape the future. On behalf of the Government of Ontario, my congratulations to Rob and Perimeter on this important appointment.” – The Hon. Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade

“Rob Myers has been an extremely influential voice in theoretical physics and I believe he will be a great leader of the Perimeter Institute.” – Edward Witten, 2012 Breakthrough Prize laureate and professor at the Institute for Advanced Study

“Perimeter is fortunate to have a respected, dedicated scientist and likable person like Rob Myers as its new Director. What an excellent choice.” – Donna Strickland, 2018 Nobel laureate and professor at the University of Waterloo

“Perimeter contributes immensely to discovery and training of tomorrow’s leaders and innovators. It has shone a light on Canada’s scientific excellence worldwide. I am delighted to welcome Rob Myers, a leading scientist, as Perimeter’s new Director, and I wish him all the best in continuing the Institute’s tradition of excellence.” – Dr. Mona Nemer, Chief Science Advisor of Canada

“I can think of no greater ambassador for Perimeter – Rob is personable, articulate, and, of course, brilliant.” – Vicky Kaspi, professor at McGill University and member of the CHIME Telescope collaboration

“I know Rob will make a great Director for Perimeter. His innovative ideas coupled with his collaborative approach will forge new directions in physics and help make physics a more inclusive endeavour. There will be many exciting things on the horizon at Perimeter.” – Rowan Thomson, former Perimeter PhD student and Canada Research Chair at Carleton University

“Rob’s support and encouragement when I arrived to Perimeter as a young postdoc had an enormous positive impact on my career. I was always impressed that, despite his many responsibilities, whenever we sat down to chat, be it about physics or about career choices, I never felt rushed. Rob is one the best mentors I have ever had.” – David Julián Mateos Solé, former Perimeter postdoctoral researcher and ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona

“Congratulations to Rob Myers on his appointment as Director of Perimeter Institute. I know he will lead Perimeter to many great accomplishments in the coming years.” – Art McDonald, 2015 Nobel laureate and Director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Collaboration

“Perimeter Institute is a jewel of theoretical physics which has thrived thanks in large part to outstanding leadership. I’m very glad to see that PI will remain in capable hands after Neil Turok steps down as Director. Rob Myers is a visionary physicist, a natural leader, and a great guy. I’m confident that with Rob’s guidance, PI will soar to even greater heights.” – John Preskill, Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology

“Rob Myers will be a fantastic Director of Perimeter Institute. His contributions to gravity and quantum theory are of lasting import. His deep expertise and broad view of the field will no doubt serve him, PI, and the community at large very well in his new role.” – Eva Silverstein, professor at Stanford University

“I was very pleased to see the appointment of Rob Myers as the next Director of PI. The Institute will be headed by a distinguished scientist with a strong record of achievement. A very good choice.” – James Hartle, professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara

“The National Research Council of Canada congratulates Perimeter Institute on the appointment of its new Director Rob Myers. Partnerships between PI and NRC involve radio astronomy and quantum machine learning. We look forward to further partnerships with Perimeter under the leadership of its exceptional new Director.” – Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council of Canada

“On behalf of the University of Waterloo, I am excited to welcome Dr. Rob Myers as the next Director of the Perimeter Institute. Dr. Myers is a world-renowned researcher, a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient from the University of Waterloo, and will be an excellent leader for the Institute. I look forward to continuing and further growing our excellent scientific collaboration with PI under his leadership.” – Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Waterloo

“Perimeter Institute is a key player in basic research and valued member of the Canadian Association for Physicists. CAP colleagues look forward to working with Rob – an enormously talented scientist and smart leader – to further physics research, training and outreach across the country. Congratulations to Rob and the Perimeter team on this special appointment.” – Bruce D. Gaulin, President, Canadian Association of Physicists

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About Perimeter

Perimeter Institute is a leading centre for scientific research, training and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics. Founded in 1999 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, its mission is to advance our understanding of the universe at the most fundamental level, stimulating the breakthroughs that could transform our future. Perimeter also trains the next generation of physicists through innovative programs, and shares the excitement and wonder of science with students, teachers and the general public.