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The Quantum Biology Laboratory Is Moving Forward by Reaching Back

Quantum STEM Lab

WASHINGTON - The Howard University Quantum Biology Laboratory (QBL), in collaboration with William Rowen Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has established a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) lab focused on training the next generation of students in quantum information science. The Quantum STEAM Lab’s virtual dedication ceremony will take place on March 10 at 10 am and will be livestreamed on YouTube. Philip Kurian, Ph.D., principal investigator and founding director of the QBL, and Georgia Dunston, Ph.D., professor emerita and senior adviser in the QBL, will both give remarks at the dedication ceremony. 

Kurian reflects on how the partnership has emerged from his own journey. “The dedication of the Quantum STEAM Lab marks the coming into fruition of a dream, one held since my time as a math teacher in North Philadelphia and now carried as a physicist orchestrating international teams of researchers,” said Kurian. “Howard University’s support of the quantum sciences and the Quantum Biology Lab has been a catalyst for this transformative impact on our K-12 students. We eagerly await the harvest to come, from our young colleagues at William Rowen.” 

Uniquely, this partnership will be focused on quantum information science. Quantum information science is one of 10 priority areas promoted by the National Science Foundation that will revolutionize life, work and thought in the years to come. As a strategy for creating a quantum-smart workforce, the National Strategic Overview calls for quantum science education at an early stage, including elementary schools. The new lab located at William Rowen School will be called the Quantum STEAM Lab. Through support from the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation of Philadelphia, the QSL will include 3D printers, 3D scanners, virtual reality headsets, a green room to create VR experiences, robotics, and science learning spaces to explore quantum concepts. 

Murray, the principal of Rowen and K-12 liaison in the QBL, envisions the Quantum STEAM Lab as the first step toward a nationwide school movement integrating immersive learning experiences and cutting-edge science. “We are excited to partner with the QBL at Howard to open our Quantum STEAM Lab,” said Murray. “The challenge for 21st-century schooling is not merely the students’ acquisition of discrete skills, but rather the transference of those skills in new contexts to solve hard problems. In the 19th century, this nation needed George Washington Carver and Lewis Howard Latimer, but in our time, we will need young people of color to master the quantum realm, in order to do the incredible. This partnership will provide that opportunity.” 

Rowen’s students will learn about the mysteries of the quantum world: wave-particle duality; subatomic particles including electrons and quarks; the double-slit experiment; Schrödinger’s cat; quantum entanglement; and more. Howard University physicists in the QBL will serve as expert consultants to support the development of learning materials aligned with quantum information science objectives. These materials will consist of digital tools, exploratory environments, and laboratory experiments to provide educators and students with robust opportunities to maximize deep, accessible, and interactive learning.  

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About Howard University 

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

About the Quantum Biology Laboratory 

With a transformative vision that extends from the subatomic to the clinical scale, the QBL studies how collective quantum behaviors in living matter can be manifested, controlled, and exploited for the development of advanced tools, diagnostics, and therapies to address neurocognitive, oncological, immunological, and metabolic disorders. Investigators in the QBL use tools from theoretical physics, condensed matter, quantum optics, molecular biology, biochemistry, genomics, spectroscopy, and high-performance computing to solve an array of problems relevant to human disease processes. In 2020, the QBL became the first group in the United States and third in the world to receive a scientific grant from the Guy Foundation, and the lab’s expertise is solicited regularly by federal agencies, national academies, and private foundations. For more information, visit www.quantumbiolab.org

Media Contact: Aaliyah Butler; aaliyah.butler@howard.edu