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Physicist König Wins NSF CAREER Award

Memorial Belltower

Sebastian König, an assistant professor of physics at NC State, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, also known as the NSF CAREER award, is one of the highest awards the foundation bestows upon young faculty in the sciences.

The five-year award will support König’s research project entitled “Few-Body Physics in Finite Volume.” The project aims to develop theoretical techniques and numerical simulations of quantum systems that will help scientists understand how these systems are governed by the underlying fundamental forces.

Sebastian König

Understanding how subatomic matter organizes itself and gives rise to life on Earth as well as to phenomena observed in the universe is a central goal of nuclear science that is relevant across many areas of physics. König’s project will address exotic corners in the landscape of atomic nuclei, where an effective cluster structure emerges out of the interaction of many constituents. The new methods developed as part of the project will be based on the observation that real-world properties of a physical system can be inferred from studying how it changes with the size of a finite geometry in which it is simulated. These methods will be relevant not only for nuclear physics, but also for other fields which exhibit very similar structures.

The project will support and train both graduate and undergraduate students, and together with the “Computational Modeling in Physics First with Bootstrap” program — run by a collaboration of teaching and education organizations including the American Modeling Teachers Association — the project will enhance high-school physics education.

König received his Ph.D. from Bonn University in Germany in 2013. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at The Ohio State University before returning to Germany to spend three years as a Herzberg Fellow at the Technical University of Darmstadt. He joined the NC State faculty in 2020.

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