Physicist recognised for role in the race for a quantum computer.

Quantum physicist Professor David Reilly has been recognised as the best emerging leader in Australia’s university sector at the AFR Higher Education awards on Tuesday night.

His leadership has placed the University of Sydney at the global forefront in the race to build a quantum computer.

The award comes a month after Professor Reilly and the university signed a globally significant partnership with Microsoft, establishing a Station Q centre for quantum computing at Sydney, just one of eight such centres worldwide.

Professor Reilly is the founding director of Station Q Sydney.

“It’s a great honour to have been recognised at the AFR Higher Education awards,” Professor Reilly said. “However, the sort of work we are doing in quantum at Sydney and at Station Q is impossible without a dedicated team of great scientists working towards a common goal.

“So I’d like to thank my colleagues and I look forward to encouraging the next generation of scientific leaders that we are nurturing at the University of Sydney.”

Professor Reilly successfully led a bid for federal government funding for the then Australian Institute for Nanoscience (now called the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology). The $40 million seed funding enabled the construction of the $150 million Sydney Nanoscience Hub (with co-funding from the University of Sydney).

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, said: “Professor Reilly is an outstanding academic leader. Without him we could not have delivered the Microsoft partnership, which is supporting the university’s world-changing research.

“The sort of leadership epitomised by Professor Reilly means our university will continue to attract the most creative minds in Australia and from overseas.”

Professor Reilly’s efforts have cemented Sydney at the centre of blue-sky efforts in quantum engineering.

Professor Reilly plays a crucial role in Microsoft’s investment in building a scalable, fault-tolerant universal quantum computer. Such computers could have an impact on an array of areas, from drug design to cyber-security.

The research group led by Professor Reilly focuses on bridging the gap between theoretical quantum physics and engineering, a stepping stone considered essential to building quantum machines. 

This story originally appeared on the Sydney University website. It was written by Marcus Strom. 

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