Artist's representation of matter interacting at the quantum scale

Seidel Recognized as Outstanding WashU Faculty

Seidel was recognized at 2024's ceremony honoring WashU's outstanding staff and faculty

Professor of Physics Alexander Seidel was recently recognized with one of the 2024 Outstanding Staff and Faculty awards at WashU. Seidel, who is also the Director of Graduate studies for the Department Physics, has been with Washington University in St. Louis since 2008 and studies the interface between condensed matter physics, mathematical physics, and quantum information theory. Condensed matter physics encompasses all matter that you can touch, that is, various kinds of condensed states such as metals, insulators, semiconductors, superconductors, and superfluids.

Professor Seidel with physics grad students (L-R: Jason Bub,
​​postdoc Andrea Gokus, J.R. Cruise, and Mary Iskakova)

Upon arrival to the United States from his native Germany in 1998, Seidel first worked as a research assistant in the Condensed Matter Theory Group at MIT, and later as a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley, and at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University.

Seidel describes his choice between more mathematics-focused studies and those more centered on physics as being “a coin toss.” In his words, “I've always sort of lived a little bit at the interface between math and physics. I don't brand myself as a mathematical physicist, but I proudly inherited a few responsibilities from my emeritus colleague Dr. Carl Bender, who was a proper mathematical physicist.”

Seidel teaches the Theoretical Physics course system which Bender taught for years before him. “I'm very happy to hear that people like the class I'm teaching,” he said of the course in question. “The way that Carl Bender taught it was stunning, and I kept part one of his course sequence essentially as I think he would have taught it.” Since taking over the role of Director of Graduate Studies in the fall of 2023, Seidel has been highly receptive of student feedback and helped to foster an environment of inclusion and openness that benefits all involved.