Morehouse College’s Wesley Sims Named 2022 Recipient of $100,000 IBM-SPIE HBCU Faculty Accelerator Prize

BELLINGHAM, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SPIE, the international optics and photonics company, and IBM Quantum have selected Wesley Sims, assistant professor of physics at Morehouse College, as this year’s recipient of the IBM-SPIE HBCU Faculty Accelerator Award in Quantum Optics and Photonics. Sims is also director of the college’s micro/nano-optics research and engineering laboratory.

The annual $100,000 award, jointly presented by the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center and SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, supports and promotes research and education in quantum optics and photonics at member institutions from the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, currently 24 historically black colleges. and universities (HBCU). The joint annual IBM-SPIE award is expected to provide a shared total of $500,000 over five years. The first recipient was Renu Tripathiprofessor of physics and engineering at Delaware State University.

“We are particularly proud of this partnership with IBM and of our joint contribution to the quantum research programs of the HBCUs”, declared the CEO of SPIE. Kent Rocheford. “Quantum science is going to have an ever-increasing impact on society, and a diverse population of skilled and knowledgeable students will greatly enhance the essential science and technology of the future. We are grateful to leaders like Dr Sims and look forward to seeing the results of his group at Morehouse.

The technical goal of Sims’ proposal is “to investigate integrated photon-photon correlation architectures that can provide ultra-fast sensitivity and thus examine coherent and incoherent excitation mechanisms in a plethora of quantum materials, systems in the solid state to soft condensed matter systems”. In addition, it will leverage an established collaboration between Morehouse, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory: California institutions will provide additional mentorship and training, as well as than practical summer research. opportunities for undergraduate physics students at Morehouse.

“I am extremely excited to continue our partnership with SPIE,” said Academic Alliance Lead, Partner Ecosystem at IBM Quantum. Kayla Lee. “Dr. Sims’ work at Morehouse College is a perfect example of how we define impact at the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center. His collaborative cross-institutional research creates opportunities for students to enter and thrive in this emerging discipline of quantum information science and engineering.

“I am extremely humbled and thrilled to receive the IBM-SPIE HBCU Faculty Accelerator Award,” said Sims. “Not only does this give me the opportunity to increase research capacity at Morehouse College, but it allows me to engage undergraduate students in our photonics research. Morehouse has a long history of producing underrepresented minorities in STEM, but there is still a need to develop and build on existing research programs and infrastructure, particularly in optics and photonics.Additionally, the collaborative approach with other institutions will expose and prepare our students for the rigor of graduate study as well as building a quantum-focused network that will provide them with many opportunities. The training they receive through this program will help bridge the gap between the workforce needs of workforce and talent available in the quantum field. If we can create a pipeline from Morehouse to UCLA – and ultimately to the quantum workforce – we can consider the program co even a success.”

Sims holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Alabama A&M University, an MEng from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a BS in Physics from Morehouse. His research interests encompass cross-phase optics, micro/nano optics fabrication, quadrature optical microscopy, extreme ultraviolet lithography, terahertz imaging, and nanostructure characterization. Additionally, Sims’ core work includes laser applications such as interferometric lithography of diffractive materials and fabrication of plasmonic nanostructures. He also worked with phase change materials (PCM) for switchable photonic devices which involved the characterization of asymmetric split-ring resonators in the THz region.

To learn more about the IBM-SPIE HBCU Faculty Accelerator Award in Quantum Optics and Photonics – including the next award cycle – please visit our dedicated webpage.

About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings together engineers, scientists, students and professionals to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through cutting-edge conferences and exhibitions; publication of conference proceedings, books and reviews in the SPIE digital library; and career development opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optical community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowment gifts and public policy development.

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