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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Iris Cong, 2018

PhD, Harvard University

Iris Cong is the child of immigrants from China

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Physics at Harvard University

Born in Los Angeles, Iris Cong is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who epitomize the American Dream. Her parents came to the United States in 1985 for their graduate studies, with only $30 each. After overcoming many challenges, Iris’s father became a distinguished UCLA professor, and her parents founded and sold two tech startups. Their inspiring stories taught Iris three indispensable lessons: pursue the best education, dream big, and persevere.

Iris decided early on to pursue scientific research, so she took calculus at age 11. At age 13, she skipped high school to enter UCLA, majoring in computer science. Amongst classmates of much stronger academic backgrounds, Iris persevered and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. That year she received the only school-wide Outstanding Bachelor of Science Award.

Since Iris developed an equal passion for physics, computer science, and math, she decided to pursue quantum computing research. She studied quantum machine learning with Professor Luming Duan at Tsinghua University during summer 2015, and topological quantum computation with Professor Zhenghan Wang at Microsoft Station Q during the summer of 2016. Iris wrote four first-author publications, gave multiple invited talks, and won the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. She is a 2018 Hertz Fellow as well.

Iris hopes to deepen her insight for designing and manipulating quantum technologies, and realize her dream: large-scale deployment of quantum computing.

  • BS Computer Science | University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 2017
  • PhD Physics | Harvard University
  • UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 2017 Outstanding Bachelor of Science
  • Barry Goldwater Scholarship (2016)
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2017)
  • 2018 Hertz Fellow
Select Publications
  • I. Cong, M. Cheng, Z. Wang. Hamiltonian and Algebraic Theories of Gapped Boundaries in Topological Phases of Matter. Comm. Math. Phys. (2017)355: 645. doi:/10.1007/s00220-017-2960-4
  • I. Cong, Z. Wang. Topological Quantum Computation with Gapped Boundaries and Boundary Defects. arXiv:1710.07197(2017). Survey paper, to appear in Proceedings of Contemporary Mathematics.
  • I. Cong, M. Cheng, Z. Wang. Universal Quantum Computation with Gapped Boundaries. Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 170504 (2017). doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.170504
  • I. Cong, L.-M. Duan. Quantum Discriminant Analysis for Dimensionality Reduction and Classification. New J. Phys. 18, 073011 (2016). doi:10.1088/1367-2630/18/7/073011
  • I. Cong, M. Cheng, Z. Wang. On Defects Between Gapped Boundaries in Two-Dimensional Topological Phases of Matter. Phys. Rev. B. 96, 195129 (2017). doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.96.195129
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