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Annual Rayborn Lecture at USM Features Expert in Quantum Computing

Mon, 04/03/2023 - 07:15am | By: Van Arnold

Dr. Barry Barker, a national leader in the field of quantum computing, will be the featured speaker for The University of Southern Mississippi’s Sixth Annual Grayson H. and Jane Dishong Rayborn Lecture Series in Physics and Astronomy, set for 7 p.m., Monday, April 10 at Bennett Auditorium on the University’s Hattiesburg campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Barker serves as Director of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, National Security Agency, at The University of Maryland. His scheduled presentation is titled, “Quantum Computing: Getting Used to the Weirdness.”

Dr. Chris Winstead, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at USM, notes that the Rayborn Lecture allows the University to expose students and the community at large to top scholars and leaders in the field of physics.

“Physics is vitally important from a scientific perspective, but it also drives advances at the forefront of technology,” said Winstead. “This lecture can play a strong role in helping people to understand the frontiers of physics and how physics impacts their lives and our society.”

In his presentation, Barker will describe how quantum computers are designed to operate using the laws of quantum mechanics, which govern physics at the molecular scale and smaller. This approach has the potential to significantly increase computational power over the familiar computers of today, revolutionizing our ability to perform complex calculations and opening up unprecedented capabilities in computer simulation, mathematical computation, and artificial intelligence. 

Winstead stresses that having a speaker of Barker’s prominence deliver the prestigious Rayborn Lecture cannot be overstated.

“Dr. Barker leads one of the nation’s top laboratories in the development of quantum information science and technology, which has the potential to revolutionize computers and computational science as we know them,” said Winstead. “He also happens to be a graduate of Southern Miss and provides an outstanding example for our current students to follow.”

About the Rayborn Lecture

In 2015, through a generous donation to The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Grayson H. Rayborn established the Grayson H. and Jane Dishong Rayborn Lecture Series in Physics and Astronomy. In 1970, Dr. Rayborn joined the USM faculty and served until his retirement in a distinguished career in teaching, research, service, and administration. During his career, Dr. Rayborn served as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, associate dean of the College of Science and Technology, and director of the School of Mathematical Sciences, as well as professor of physics and astronomy. Upon retirement, in recognition of his distinguished service to the University, Dr. Rayborn was awarded the title of professor emeritus of physics and astronomy.