Lucas K. Wagner

Lucas K. Wagner
Lucas K. Wagner
Lucas K. Wagner
Lucas K. Wagner
  • Assistant Professor
2131 Engineering Sciences Building

For More Information


  • PhD. in physics, NCSU 2006
  • B.S. in physics and applied mathematics, NCSU 2002


Prof. Wagner received his bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University in 2002 and his PhD from the same institution in 2006. He then worked as a postdoc at Berkeley for two years, followed by a second postdoc at MIT in 2009. In 2011, he joined the physics department at Illinois.

He has pioneered the use of many-body electronic methods, in particular quantum Monte Carlo methods, to treat interacting systems of electrons in materials. His group has used these techniques to clarify the physics of strongly correlated systems such as the high temperature superconducting cuprates and vanadium dioxide. His group has developed new techniques to derive the collective physics of interacting quantum particles from these detailed calculations using data-based techniques.

Prof. Wagner is also active in software development, to enhance the availability of quantum many-body methods. He developed the QWalk package for quantum Monte Carlo, which scales these calculations to more than 1 million threads. Recently, he has been developing the pyscf/pyqmc ecosystem for many-body quantum projects.

Academic Positions

  • Postdoctoral researcher, MIT 2009-2011
  • Postdoctoral researcher, UC Berkeley 2007-2009

Research Statement

I use high performance computation to simulate complex systems, and draw physical insights from those simulations. One primary thread of this is using quantum Monte Carlo calculations to accurately describe the wave functions of realistic models of electrons and nuclei, including the correlations that electrons have with one another. I am particularly interested in drawing conceptual information about how the electrons behave in a correlated way. This research area can connect directly to experiments, since the calculations are realistic, and also connect to more coarse-grained theory, by solving for the effective physics of electronic systems.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Interested undergraduates should contact me to discuss projects. Experience with quantum mechanics at the 400 level and coding experience is required.

Selected Articles in Journals

Articles in Conference Proceedings

Magazine Articles

Other Scholarly Activities

  • Maintainer for pyQMC python quantum Monte Carlo package (

Teaching Honors

  • Nordsieck award for teaching excellence in physics (Spring 2020)

Recent Courses Taught

  • CSE 498 DM (MSE 598 DM, ME 598 DM) - Intro to Digital Materials
  • MSE 485 (CSE 485, PHYS 466) - Atomic Scale Simulations
  • PHYS 213 - Univ Physics: Thermal Physics
  • PHYS 214 - Univ Physics: Quantum Physics
  • PHYS 446 - Modern Computational Physics
  • PHYS 460 - Condensed Matter Physics