Pictured: Belkin Art Gallery exterior shot with witch hazel by Michael Turner.

The Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI) has partnered with the Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery (the Belkin) and UBC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy (UBC PHAS) in Ars Scientia, a new project that connects physicists and artists in an effort to find shared ways of communicating about science and explaining the world around us. The partnership was recently awarded two years of funding through the UBC Research Excellence Cluster program.

Though the project is in its early days, the team at Ars Scientia is already working quickly to partner scientists with artists who will conduct six-month residencies in order to explore the potential for academic art-science collaborations; much of the cluster’s early programming will be in support of DRIFT: Art and Dark Matter (DRIFT), an exhibit set to debut at the Belkin in September 2021. DRIFT is a collaborative exhibit that has linked artists and scientists in exploring ways of describing that which exists beyond the limits of our language and understanding; most recently, the exhibit connected the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University, the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute, and SNOLAB.

This partnership is a promising early step in Blusson QMI’s mission to engage meaningfully with the art community and external audiences, and an opportunity for an enriching exchange of knowledge and perspective. Students in particular will benefit from this exchange; by inviting artists into labs and research spaces, trainee scientists will gain valuable insight into how someone with different expertise might interpret their work, and how to communicate more effectively about their research. New programs are under development and will be announced soon.

Ars Scientia is co-led by Andrea Damascelli, UBC PHAS Professor and Blusson QMI Scientific Director; Jeremy Heyl, UBC PHAS Professor; and Shelly Rosenblum, Curator of Academic Programs at the Belkin, and supported by a team of staff including Program Manager James Day.

Continuing: Quantum Computing Research Cluster

The Quantum Computing Research Cluster, led by Lukas Chrostowski, Professor in UBC’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will continue to receive cluster funding through 2022. The cluster was productive in 2020, strengthening its partnerships with TRIUMF and Germany’s Helmholtz Association in part by delivering events including the Cornerstone Models of Quantum Computing series, which engaged international audiences this past summer, and the Germany-Canada research workshop on Quantum Computing applications in advanced manufacturing, jointly hosted by UBC and the German Aerospace Centre.

The cluster continues to prioritize novel ways of conducting outreach, such as through the Diversifying Talent in Quantum Computing program, the new Quantum Bits podcast from PhD student Parham Pashaei; the cluster also hosted more than five seminars and workshops. In addition, cluster participants launched the NSERC CREATE Program in Quantum Computing, which in its first year has enrolled a diverse cohort of graduate students from UBC, UVic and SFU; more than half of the students in the program identify as female.

Research Excellence Clusters are interdisciplinary networks of researchers focused on solving key challenges facing society, and are a key component of Strategy 6 of the Strategic Plan in support of Research Excellence. The GCRC was jointly created by the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the Provost & Vice-President, Academic and is supported by UBC’s Academic Excellence Funds. Read more at research.ubc.ca.