2017 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize goes to Aron Wall

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The 2017 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize for General Relativity and Gravitation is awarded to Aron Wall (Institute for Advanced Study) for his fundamental contributions to our understanding of gravitational entropy and the generalized second law of thermodynamics.

After studying Great Books at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, Aron Wall continued his studies in theoretical physis with Ted Jacobson at the University of Maryland, where he received his PhD in 2011. His thesis, a proof that black holes obey the second law of thermodynamics when coupled to quantum fields, was awarded the 2013 Bergmann-Wheeler Thesis Prize from the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. As a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Wall broadened his research efforts toward the holographic principle, and showed, most notably, that the holographic entanglement entropy satisfies a quantum information inequality known as “Strong Subadditivity”.

In 2014, Wall became a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), where he was able to resolve some long-standing conceptional problems concerning black hole entropy. He constructed an increasing entropy formula for all possible higher curvature modifications to Einstein gravity. With William Donnelly, he gave a statistical-mechanical explanation for a puzzling effect whereby electromagnetic fields seemingly contribute negatively to the entropy of a black hole. He also spearheaded a new research program on a conjectured lower bound on the quantum stress-energy tensor, and proved the conjecture for a broad class of theories. These results have potential applications in high-energy and condensed-matter physics.

In August 2017, Wall expects to join the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics for a third postdoctoral position. He explains physics and theology in his personal blog: Undivided Looking.

Eric Poisson, President
International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation