Vanderbilt University’s Quantum Potential unveiled: Meet the minds shaping our future

Quantum Potential topper

Vanderbilt University is unveiling its marquee video series on research and innovation, Quantum Potential, which provides a glimpse into the remarkable research initiatives underway at the university and medical center.

Hosted by Radiolab founder and Vanderbilt faculty member Jad Abumrad, Quantum Potential is a collection of wild but precise portraits of the scholars, scientists and students at Vanderbilt who are finding new ways to understand the world—and through understanding, change it. Quantum Potential is a behind-the-scenes peek at who they are, how they think and, ultimately, how they come to reveal something that improves the human experience.

Quantum Potential’s first season features civil and environmental engineers paving the way for smoother traffic; a biomedical engineer merging her faith and science to develop diagnostic tools; a chemist revealing myriad uses for sugars in breast milk, from naval ship paint to chemotherapy; a team of historians and computer scientists salvaging historical records with AI; and the immunologists responsible for developing a COVID-19 vaccine in a record-setting 78 days.

“The next world that we’re all going to live in, that we want to live in—people here at Vanderbilt are already imagining it,” Abumrad said.

Vanderbilt University is hosting a premiere event for the series that will also be livestreamed. It will be on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m. CT at the Belcourt Theatre. This event will bring together researchers, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, Provost C. Cybele Raver and Abumrad for a screening of two short films, behind-the-scenes discussions and an immersive performance by Ji Hye Jung, associate professor of percussion at Blair School of Music.

Attendance is open to the Vanderbilt community and the general public; registration is required.

“It is essential that we share stories of the positive impact of academic research on society, which are often unknown by the broader public,” said Steve Ertel, vice chancellor for communications and marketing at Vanderbilt. “Quantum Potential aims to shine a bright light on the extraordinary people who work tirelessly every day at America’s leading research universities to make the world better.”

The university is committed to groundbreaking discovery and innovation with real-world impact. In fiscal year 2023, Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers, including faculty, students and staff, have secured:

  • More than $1 billion in external research funding
  • More than 1,500 patent applications, industry license agreements and material transfer agreements to transform research into practical applications
  • $96 million in licensing revenue

Abumrad, who joined Vanderbilt in April 2022 as Distinguished Research Professor of Cinema and Media Arts and of Communication of Science and Technology in the College of Arts and Science, brings a wealth of experience to the university. He is the creator of the critically acclaimed podcasts Radiolab and Dolly Parton’s America, both of which have received Peabody awards for their exploration of profound philosophical and humanistic questions. In 2011, Abumrad was honored as a MacArthur Fellow.