Curriculum Vitae

String Theory, Quantum Gravity.


an Austen Coleman

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About me

I am a PhD student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in Theoretical High-Energy Physics at Stanford University. Next year, I will be a postdoctoral Impact Fellow at the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium. I will be working at the intersection of high-performance computing, AI, and climate change mitigation science, developing both algorithms and hardware to improve the energy efficiency of the digital economy and bolster critical components of the transition to carbon-negative energy infrastructure.

In my doctoral studies, I've focused on fundamental problems in physics regarding the behavior of quantum theories of gravity, and how we might construct them in a manner consistent with the observed accelerated expansion of the universe. How can we describe inflating universes (metastable de Sitter vacua) in string theory without relying on, for example, the KKLT prescription? How do various mechanisms in string theory reinforce the causal nature of spacetime, or excise infinitely-curved regions of spacetime? How do we use lessons from non-perturbative frameworks and finite-volume AdS holography to gain insight into holographic descriptions of our universe?

My coding experience stems from my desire early in life to program game engines. As a high school student at the York school in Monterey, California, I coded competitive analysis algorithms for commercial relational databases (2012), developed JavaScript API's for "Big Data" businesses (2014), and hacked together an annotation interface for Mars images at the NASA Ames Research Center (2013). I also co-founded York's FIRST Robotics team, Deus Ex Machina, which earned a spot at the 2014 FIRST World Championships in St. Louis.

During my undergraduate years at Brown, I utilized the University's lack of strict pre-requisites (the Open Curriculum) to specialize in High Energy Physics (HEP). Under the direction of Professor of Physics Meenakshi Narain, I brought my computer science knowledge to CMS, a CERN experiment operating at the Large Hadron Collider. I spent a good fraction of my undergraduate years at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and at the CERN site in Switzerland, working on precision top quark lifetime measurements, particle classifiers, and future detector studies. In parallel with my experimental work, I also joined Professor Antal Jevicki in some theoretical projects within HEP.

Away from my desk, I enjoy music of all kinds, and play classical guitar. I am also an avid endurance cyclist, I enjoy rock climbing, and I volunteer weekly at the Stanford Educational Farm. My older sister is an assistant director for some pretty amazing films. My younger sister is a pre-med student at Brown, a practicing medical translator, and an undergraduate researcher in gerontology.

Recent recognition

  • (2021) Paul H. Kirkpatrick Award for Teaching in Physics
  • (2020) Dr. HaiPing and Jianmei Jin Fellowship in Physics
  • (2018) Youth Philanthropist of the Year, National Philanthropy Day Committee of the Central Coast
  • (2018) R. Bruce Lindsay Prize for Excellence in Physics
  • (2018) National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • (2017) Goldwater Scholarship
  • (2017) Astronaut Scholarship
  • (2017) Sigma Xi


  • (SP2020) PHYSICS121: Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
  • (FA2019) PHYSICS70: Introduction to Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
  • (WI2019) PHYSICS40: Introduction to Classical Mechanics


  • (Apr. 2019 - Present): Volunteer, Stanford Educational Farm
  • (Jan. 2022 - Present): Exam Proctor, Stanford Office of Accessible Education
  • (Jul. 2018): Himalayan Trek to Fight Child Sex Trafficking