Theorist Ana Maria Rey was appointed an Associate Fellow of JILA and Assistant Research Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2008. Since then she has done research on mathematical models to describe how nature behaves — in all its amazing complexity. She specializes in the scientific interface between atomic, molecular, and optic physics, condensed matter, and quantum information science. She investigates new techniques for controlling quantum systems and then uses them in applications ranging from quantum simulations and quantum information to precision measurement, primarily with time and frequency standards. Her long-term goal is to engineer controllable quantum systems that mimic real materials and develop advanced measurement techniques to probe atom-based quantum systems.
In 2012, Rey was appointed a Fellow of JILA and Associate Research Professor of Physics at CU, Boulder. She is continuing her investigations of quantum simulation, quantum information, and precision measurement with investigations of (1) alkaline earth atoms such as strontium and ytterbium, (2) polar molecules such as ultracold potassium-rubidium (KRb) molecules, (3) trapped ions, and (4) non-equilibrium dynamics of atomic systems. Her research goals include the creation of new kinds of matter as well as the use of trapped ions and polar molecules to simulate quantum magetism and other quantum behaviors.
Rey received her Bachelor’s degree in physics in 1999 from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Next, she worked with Charles Clark at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg on the dynamics of strongly interacting atoms in optical lattices. As part of her research, she contacted Maryland cosmologist Bei-Lok Hu to help her adapt relativistic techniques to the study of nonequilibrium lattice dynamics. This work led to her being awarded the American Physical Society’s Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (DAMOP) thesis prize in 2005. Rey was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Theoretical Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Harvard University Physics Department where Rey collaborated with Mikhail Lukin and Eugene Demler.
Rey's research in atomic, molecular, and optical physics has received widespread recognition in recent years. In 2012, she was named "Woman Physicist of the Month" by the American Physical Society. In 2013, she received the "Great Minds in STEM" Most Promising Scientist Award, the American Physical Society's Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. In 2013, Rey was named a 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
When Rey is not busy modeling the quantum world, she spends time with her husband Juan Gabriel Restrepo, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at CU, Boulder, and their son.