Dr Piotr Sułkowski receives funding from the European Research Council

Thursday, 20 June 2013

We are pleased to announce that the Polish physicist dr Piotr Sułkowski from the University of Warsaw has received a prestigious grant of €1.3 M from the European Research Council (ERC) for his research on quantum fields and knot homologies. Dr Sułkowski was awarded funding within a ERC Starting Grant programme which aims to support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a research team and start conducting independent research in Europe.

Dr Sułkowski’s research is focused on theoretical physics, especially the mathematical aspects of quantum field theory and string theory. He also carries out research in the field of biophysics. Currently, he works as an assistant professor at the University of Warsaw and as a visiting faculty associate at the California Institute of Technology.

The project “Quantum fields and knot homologies” awarded within the ERC funding scheme is concerned with the fundamental problems which arise at the interface of quantum field theory, string theory, knot theory, and the theory of random matrices. The main aim of dr Sułkowski’s research is to understand two of the most profound phenomena in physics and mathematics, namely quantization and categorification, and to establish an explicit and rigorous framework where they come into play in an interrelated fashion. The project focuses on the following areas: knot homologies, super-A-polynomials, 3-dimensional supersymmetric gauge theories, topological recursion and quantization. Due to their complex nature, these research areas are a source of inspiration for physicists and mathematicians alike. Therefore the research team will bring together the expertise of both these fields.

“The knot theory is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic areas in mathematics. On the one hand, its main focus is knots, familiar to us from our everyday life, on the other, it connects us with the most abstract questions of contemporary mathematics”, said the grant winner. "Some problems in the knot theory - including those with a practical dimension - are so complicated that they cannot be solved by means of conventional mathematical apparatus. It turns out, however, that methods from the field of quantum physics, related to the quantum field theory and string theory, can occasionally find astounding solutions to these problems. This is despite the fact that mathematically proving them, for the time being, lies beyond our capabilities", explained Piotr Sułkowski.

This text has been based on information found on the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw and European Research Council websites.