Brian Skinner receives 2024 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award

Brian J. Skinner, PhD, assistant professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, has earned The Ohio State University 2024 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award. Senior leadership in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge recently surprised Skinner with the honor during a department meeting.     

"It feels very touching that so many people put so much effort into something like this that is extraneous to the rest of their work,” said Skinner. “A lot of people worked very hard on this nomination package and I’m very grateful to those who helped make this happen."


Skinner performs theoretical research into the nature and dynamics of quantum entanglement and into the quantum mechanical behavior of materials. Professor Skinner also holds a patent on a novel form of thermoelectric energy conversion, which transforms waste heat into useful electric power.

“While Dr. Skinner is early in his career, he’s known internationally as an emerging leader in the fields of quantum dynamics, quantum materials and sustainable energy research,” said Cynthia Carnes, senior vice president for research operations. “His ability to clearly communicate complex ideas and subjects has won him praise from colleagues and students alike.”

“You have really distinguished yourself. We’re just incredibly proud of your accomplishments and we’re really proud to have you on the faculty,” Susan Olesik, dean of natural and mathematical sciences.   

“Brian is a stellar physicist with a track record of creative and impactful research results that would be enviable for any physicist, let alone one so early in his career,” wrote physics department chair, Michael Poirier in his nomination letter.

Skinner is a principal investigator in Ohio State’s Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. He is also a member of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Engineering and a core faculty member of the Translational Data Analytics Institute. In 2023, he received the inaugural Frontiers in Science Award, an international award that recognized just five condensed matter physics works that were deemed to be the most impactful during the past five years. He was also awarded an NSF CAREER Award in 2021 for his research on quantum materials. Skinner received his doctorate and bachelor's degrees in physics at the University of Minnesota and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, respectively, and completed post-doctoral work at Argonne National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award is among the highest annual honors awarded at Ohio State. The university-level award honors three to four faculty members who demonstrate scholarly activity, conduct research or creative works that represent exceptional achievements in their fields and garner distinction for the university. 

Award recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including past award recipients. Early Career Distinguished Scholars receive an honorarium and a research grant to be used over the next three years. 

Quotes from Skinner’s nomination:   

“Brian is a gifted theoretical physicist who despite being early in his career has already established a stellar reputation. He is emerging as a leader in the field of quantum dynamics of many-body quantum systems, a forefront field with much exciting recent progress....In 2019, Brian wrote a groundbreaking first-author paper entitled Measurement-induced phase transitions in the dynamics of entanglement. This paper was responsible for starting a whole new field of quantum dynamics, in which (continuous) measurements play an integral role - sometimes called “monitored quantum dynamics." This has been a very influential paper, and indeed has already garnered over 550 citations.” Matthew P.A. Fisher, University of California Santa Barbara.    

“I first met Brian when he was a graduate student and remember him explaining to me his thesis work while I was visiting his advisor at the University of Minnesota. The clarity of his presentation and the physical way he approached the problem left me with the impression that he is a young talent I should keep an eye on. My instincts turned out to be correct and I am happy to watch Brian developing into a leading condensed matter theorist of his generation in this country.” Patrick Lee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   

“To my mind Brian has become the world leader in the field of entanglement propagation in many body systems. And it is not only me who thinks this: Brian's work on entanglement dynamics was recently awarded the inaugural Frontiers in Science Award, with one of his papers being recognized as one of the five most impactful papers in theoretical condensed matter physics during the past five years. This work has launched an entire scientific field that continues to draw attention from the most pre-eminent theorists and experimentalists in condensed matter physics.” Boris Shklovskii, University of Minnesota.