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Philip Kurian, PhD (He/Him)

Principal Investigator and Founding Director, Quantum Biology Laboratory

  • Graduate School
  • Graduate School


Dr. Philip Kurian is a theoretical physicist, (re)search(ing) scientist, and essayist, serving as principal investigator and founding director of the Quantum Biology Laboratory ( at Howard University. Beginning his career as a math teacher in North Philadelphia, and then completing his doctorate in physics at Howard after a stint at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr. Kurian is now the recipient of fellowships, grants, and awards from the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission, Argonne and Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facilities, Guy Foundation, Whole Genome Science Foundation, National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. His laboratory studies how collective and cooperative quantum behaviors can explain biological phenomena at the mesoscopic, organismal, and clinical scales, including in neurodegeneration, cancer, and human consciousness.

In 2020 the Quantum Biology Laboratory became the first group in the U.S. and third in the world to receive a scientific grant from the UK-based Guy Foundation, and the lab’s expertise is solicited regularly by federal agencies, national academies, and private foundations. In 2021 Dr. Kurian was appointed as a lead expert and organizer for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop on quantum-enabled sensing and imaging for biology. In 2022 he became a Simons Scholar and Senior Fellow at the UCLA Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, developing advanced theory and methods to understand complex, open, and excited quantum systems. Dr. Kurian also serves as a scientific advisor to the “Science for Seminaries” program of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion, which seeks to integrate frontier science questions into conversations among future theologians and clergy. His essays on science, human knowledge systems, empire, and spirituality have appeared in various media outlets, including the Los Angeles Review of BooksGranta, and Plough.




Quantum biology; Theoretical physics; Many-body entanglement; Quantum field theory; Protein photophysics


Guy Foundation

National Institutes of Health

National Science Foundation

U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission

Whole Genome Science Foundation

Group Information

Nathan Babcock, Postdoctoral Scholar

Matteo Gori, Postdoctoral Scholar

Khatereh Azizi, Research Associate

Gustavo Montes-Cabrera, Research Associate

Vahid Salari, Research Associate

Sanjay Varma, Senior Scientist

James Murray, K-12 Liaison for Augmented Reality- and Neuroscience-Based Education

Muneer Abbas, Associate Professor of Microbiology

Georgia Dunston, Professor Emerita and Senior Advisor



U.S. - Italy Fulbright Scholar

The overall goal of this Fulbright grant is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of Italy through the exchange of ideas and culture. The Fulbright Scholar Program's primary purpose is as a public diplomacy initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and is designed to expand and strengthen the relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of the rest of the world. To support this mission, grantees are asked to give public talks and engage with the host community, in addition to their primary research objectives.

Fulbright Intercountry Program Grants Recipient (multiple)

Awards received during tenure as U.S.-Italy Fulbright Scholar to provide for travel expenses from Trieste, Italy, to Salerno (IT), Brescia (IT), Prague (CZ), Luxembourg (LX), Napoli (IT), and Marseille (FR) for lecturing and scientific collaboration.

Director's Discretionary Awards, Oak Ridge and Argonne Leadership Computing Facilities

Serve as principal investigator on two high-performance computing awards for over one million core-hours to simulate many-body quantum electronic fluctuations and calculate terahertz spectra of complex biomacromolecular systems in aqueous environments.

AAAS DoSER Science for Seminaries Advisory Committee

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has launched a major five-year initiative entitled, “Science for Seminaries: Integrating Science into Core Theological Education Phase II” within the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program. The DoSER program seeks to facilitate conversations between scientific and religious communities through a variety of events and projects. The Science for Seminaries Phase II project, run in collaboration with the Association of Theological Schools, follows a successful three-year pilot project that concluded in 2016. See the current seminaries at grantee seminaries are required to integrate science into two core courses and host one science-focused campus-wide event during an 18-month period. The goals of the project are to encourage interest in a diverse array of science topics within seminaries, produce a growing number of pastors equipped to help their congregants find answers to science-related questions, and to create an atmosphere in faith communities in which science is considered relevant and important to religious and societal worldviews. 

NIH GHUCCTS TL1 Postdoctoral Scholar in Translational Biomedical Science

The overall goal of this TL1 grant at the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) is to train postdoctoral scholars in translational biomedical science.  

WGSF NHGC Postdoctoral Scholar in Whole Genome Science

The ultimate goal of this grant is to train new-generation thought leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics of whole genome science, while developing capacity for quantum biology research at Howard University.

AAAS Public Science Engagement Contest Winner

Awarded for joint presentation at the Ethiopian Educators Without Borders conference at the Ethiopian Embassy (Washington, DC), with other Howard University scholars, on 18 May 2019 - “Connecting DC and Ethiopian Communities in Science, Spirituality, and Scholarship.”

Executive Team, AAAS-Howard University Engaging Scientists Campus Event

In collaboration with other Howard University scholars, developed one of six proposals in the nation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion to enhance scientists’ ability to engage with diverse religious publics, including keynote speakers, AAAS-led sessions, a public science engagement contest, and a culminating TEDx: LeDroit Park event on the theme "Translation to Transformation." 

National Physical Science Consortium Fellow

Award to complete doctoral studies in physics.

Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalist

Awarded for discovery as a high school student of polymerase chain reaction-based technique for quantifying DNA damage induced by anticancer agents.

Senior Fellow, UCLA Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics

Served as visiting senior scientist developing advanced theory and methods to understand complex, open, and excited quantum systems, while mentoring junior scholars during the IPAM long program "Advancing Quantum Mechanics with Mathematics and Statistics."

Scientific Advisor, Guy Foundation

Scientific Advisor, AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion

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