Owen Dugan

2024 Hertz Fellow
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Owen Dugan researches at the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and physics, working to develop AI that enables breakthroughs in physics and to use physics techniques to design more capable and safer AI systems.

Dugan will attend Stanford University to pursue a doctorate in computer science. He earned a bachelor’s in physics in two and a half years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where his research ranged from developing machine learning algorithms that automatically discover scientific theories to using concepts from physics to study linear sequence architectures for enhancing the speed of large language models. His other research areas include using effective field theory to derive superfluid hydrodynamics from first principles, improving the computational capabilities of large language models, and Q-function and Wigner-function quantum tomography.

Dugan has collaborated with researchers from Harvard University, the University of Chicago and DeepMind. He has presented research at the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), the MIT Mechanistic Interpretability Conference and the American Physical Society March Meeting. Among other publications and presentations, Dugan is the first author of a paper on novel methods to simulate open quantum systems with normalizing flows, which he presented at the ICML main conference. He was honored with MIT’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award for his contributions. Among other awards, Dugan is a U.S. Presidential Scholar, a Neo Scholar and a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

Outside of his academic research, Dugan is passionate about using his computer science skills for good. He has co-founded a startup that builds tools to verify the authenticity of digital images and co-developed an app to reduce food waste. He has also been awarded multiple patents for his independent development of algorithms that identify and remove satellite trails from astronomical images, research he presented at the Joint Meeting of the Society for Astronomical Sciences and the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

Born and raised in Sleepy Hollow, New York, Dugan has been lucky to also spend much of his time with his grandparents in rural western New York, where he developed a love of the outdoors, sailing and mountain biking. He plays guitar and piano and loves to read.

Graduate Studies

Stanford University
Artificial Intelligence, Physics

Undergraduate Studies

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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