University of Texas at Austin


Quantum Summer School is Simultaneously Held In-Person and Virtually

By Olivia Shaffer, John Holden

Published July 6, 2022

Nearly 250 students, researchers and scholars took part in the 2022 School on Electron-Phonon Physics from First Principles that took place during the week of June 13-19. This was the third time the summer school had convened and was held in-person at the University of Texas at Austin and streamed via Zoom. The series began in 2018, skipped two years and then continued with a fully virtual event in 2021.

Participants had the opportunity to engage in lectures, hands-on tutorials, workshops, a poster session and a hackathon event. Training sessions were also held on the supercomputers of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

The aim? To train graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty members and research scientists in modern approaches to the physics of electron-phonon interactions, from the point of view of predictive ab initio calculations for real materials.

“We had 75 participants in person, 18 instructors on site and 155 registered Zoom participants,” said Feliciano Giustino, director of the Center for Quantum Materials Engineering at the Oden Institute and co organizer of the 2022 EPW School.

After transitioning to a fully virtual format in 2021 on account of the pandemic, Giustino was excited to go back to doing things in person this summer - allowing for a more immersive, hands-on experience. Still the virtual world has its perks. Many events forced online during the pandemic saw participant numbers soar, especially from outside the United States. The EPW School was no different. In order to maintain the high level of global interest that was seen in the 2021 school (participants came from over 30 different countries), organizers opted to make many of the materials available online.

“This year, we wanted to do a fully in-person school, but many people asked us to stream the lectures, so we decided to stream the morning lectures. We were then able to upload them to YouTube.”

Organizers of the EPW School included Giustino, Annecy Liddell and Hyungjun Lee of the Oden Institute, as well as Roxana Margine from Binghamton University SUNY, Samuel Poncé of Université Catholique de Louvain and Emmanouil Kioupakis of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Dr. Feliciano Giustino delivering a lecture at the 2022 EPW Summer School held in Welch Hall at UT Austin.

The school was sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Materials Research (DMR) and Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC), under award 2007638 and 2013991, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES), under award DE-SC0020129, and the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences. The Texas Advanced Computing Center also provided support for the school through the reservation of Frontera nodes & technical assistance.

Participants were introduced to advanced ab initio calculations of electron-phonon physics and related materials properties through lectures on many-body quantum theory, software implementations and hands-on training sessions. Practice sessions focused primarily on the EPW code, and additionally included tutorials on Quantum EspressoWannier90 and BerkeleyGW

The 18 instructors included faculty from UT Austin, the Oden Institute and various other universities and research institutions. Some of the instructors were postdoctoral researchers who delivered lectures and led hands-on tutorial sessions – an experience that could help them secure faculty positions later on.

Additionally, TACC’s Executive Director, Dan Stanzione, gave a lecture on “High Performance Computing at TACC and beyond,” and the participants toured the TACC facility at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.

The final two days of the school were dedicated to hackathon exercises to promote coding and programming literacy. “The hackathon was a more advanced part of the school meant to encourage participants to develop programming skills,” noted Giustino.

The week-long event also included a workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, led by Tatiane Russo-Tait and Brandon Campitelli from the college of Education. “The DEI workshop was about social identities and implicit bias in STEM fields,” Giustino explained. “This educational component is part of our mission to make people aware of inequalities and biases and its one of the core missions of the National Science Foundation, a key sponsor of the event.”

Organizers look forward to continuing the EPW School series next year and beyond.

Learn more about the grant that funded the EPW School and research project here.