Cristiane Morais Smith

"Physics is like a dream, sometimes solid, sometimes fluid."

Cristiane Morais Smith, a leading expert on the theory of correlated electrons, has given more than 300 invited lectures in 18 countries. She was awarded the 2019 Emmy Noether Distinction of the European Physical Society and the 2016 Dresselhaus Prize from Hamburg University. Born in a small village some 500 km away from Sao Paulo, she financed her Bachelor's degree by working in a bank. Additionally, she gave French lessons and later founded a French language school. She speaks 7 languages (Portuguese, English, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish).
After her Bachelor, Master and PhD in theoretical Physics at the University of Campinas (in collaboration with ETH Zurich, Switzerland), she worked at the Universities of Hamburg (Germany), Fribourg (Switzerland), and currently holds a chair in Condensed Matter at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. She is also a Fellow (visiting professor) at the TDLI of Jiatong University in Shanghai (China).



If I hadn't become a physicist ...

... I would have been a brain researcher. I am fascinated by the complexity of the brain, which is a universe in itself.


What was the last DPG event in which you took part?

In 2017, I participated as a keynote speaker in an event organized by the Young DPG. I was surprised to find a room with about 100 students, of which nearly half were female. Until that moment, gender equality in physics looked like a chimera, impossible to reach within my generation. It was an unforgetable and enchanting experience to see that room equally filled with boys and girls interested in physics.


What task do you see for physics in the society of tomorrow?

Physics contribution to quantum computation and quantum information will shape societal life in the next decades. The human brain will remain as an important source of inspiration for creating machines that operate without consuming too much energy. Quantum metamaterials, tailored to exhibit desired properties, will be more and more necessary.


What are you working on today?

I am interested in the sociology of electrons, how they behave when many of them are put together and interact strongly. One important issue to understand these strongly correlated systems is the development of quantum simulators. I am involved in the development of electronic quantum simulators.


Physics is like ....

Physics is like a dream, sometimes solid, sometimes fluid. Things that you were told to be impossible may get realized and things you believed true may get challenged and modified. It is a marvelous river, which shapes stones, refreshes the swimmers and embellishes the landscape.