Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara

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Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara
Born (1971-04-03) April 3, 1971 (age 46)
Athens, Greece
Nationality Greek
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions Pennsylvania State University
Imperial College London
Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics
Santa Fe Institute
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics[1][2]
Alma mater Queen Mary University of London
Imperial College London
Royal College of Art[1][2]
Academic advisors Christopher Isham
Influences Christopher Isham
Roger Penrose

Fotini G. Markopoulou-Kalamara (Greek: Φωτεινή Μαρκοπούλου-Καλαμαρά; born April 3, 1971) is a Greek theoretical physicist interested in foundational mathematics and quantum mechanics. She was a faculty member at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and was an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo.


Markopoulou received her Ph.D. from Imperial College London in 1998 and held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Imperial College London, and Pennsylvania State University. She shared First Prize in the Young Researchers competition at the Ultimate Reality Symposium in Princeton, New Jersey.[3]

She has been influenced by researchers such as Christopher Isham who call attention to the unstated assumption in most modern physics that physical properties are most naturally calibrated by a real-number continuum. She, and others, attempt to make explicit some of the implicit mathematical assumptions underpinning modern theoretical physics and cosmology.

In her interdisciplinary paper "The Internal Description of a Causal Set: What the Universe Looks Like from the Inside", Markopoulou instantiates some abstract terms from mathematical category theory to develop straightforward models of space-time. It proposes simple quantum models of space-time based on category-theoretic notions of a topos and its subobject classifier (which has a Heyting algebra structure, but not necessarily a Boolean algebra structure).

For example, hard-to-picture category-theoretic "presheaves" from topos theory become easy-to-picture "evolving (or varying) sets" in her discussions of quantum spacetime. The diagrams in Markopoulou's papers (including hand-drawn diagrams in one of the earlier versions of "The Internal Description of a Causal Set") are straightforward presentations of possible models of space-time. They are intended as meaningful and provocative, not just for specialists but also for newcomers.

In May 2006, Markopoulou published a paper with Lee Smolin that further popularized this Causal Dynamical Triangulation (CDT) Theory by explaining time slicing of the Ambjorn–Loll CDT model as result of gauge fixing. Their approach relaxed the definition of the Ambjorn–Loll CDT model in 1 + 1 dimensions to allow for a varying lapse.

After being denied tenure, Markopoulou left Perimeter in the fall of 2011.[2] In a move away from physics in 2012, Markopoulou enrolled and studied on the Innovation Design Engineering double masters (MA+MSc) at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, graduating in 2014.[1] Her two graduation projects were a solo project: Cityzen, a digital voting system using values based data analytics, and MyTempo, a group project with Nell Bennett, Andreas Bilicki and Jack Hooper. MyTempo won the Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprise (Design Category) 2014[4] and was exhibited at the John Lewis Future Store.[5]

After Graduating Markopoulou and her colleagues founded Team Turquoise, a company that researches psycho-physiology, the way in which a person's mind and body affect one-another to create technology that changes how we perceive, feel and behave.[6] MyTempo was rebranded to become doppel and in June 2015 was launched on Kickstarter.[7]

Quantum graphity[edit]

In 2008, Markopoulou, Tomasz Konopka and Simone Severini initiated the study of a new background independent model of evolutionary space called quantum graphity.

In the quantum graphity model, points in spacetime are represented by nodes on a graph connected by links that can be on or off.[8] This indicates whether or not the two points are directly connected as if they are next to each other in spacetime. When they are on the links have additional state variables which are used to define the random dynamics of the graph under the influence of quantum fluctuations and temperature. At high temperature the graph is in Phase I where all the points are randomly connected to each other and no concept of spacetime as we know it exists. As the temperature drops and the graph cools, it is conjectured to undergo a phase transition to a Phase II where spacetime forms. It will then look like a spacetime manifold on large scales with only near-neighbour points being connected in the graph.

The hypothesis of quantum graphity is that this geometrogenesis models the condensation of spacetime in the big bang. A second model, related to ideas around quantum graphity, has been published.[9]


Fotini Markopoulou is co-founder of doppel [1], a wearable tech company that uses research in psychophysiology to create technology that changes how the user perceives, feels and behaves. The company’s first product, also called doppel, is a wristband that helps the wearer to stay calm and focused. doppel’s efficacy was tested in a controlled Psychomotor Vigilance Task (reaction time test) that measures sustained attention, administered by expert psychologists at RHUL [2]. In July 2015, doppel had a successful Kickstarter [3] campaign that raised £111K. [4] doppel is one of a new wave of wearables that go beyond measuring and serving users’ data, and instead aim to actively change how the wearer feels [5], [6].

Personal life[edit]

She has a son and lives in Oxford.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Fotini Markopoulou - Royal College of Art". Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Davies, Sally. "This Physics Pioneer Walked Away from It All". Nautilus (science magazine). Retrieved 29 July 2016. 
  3. ^ "Winners of the Young Researchers Competition in Physics Announced". Science & Ultimate Reality. Metanexus Institute. 2002-03-21. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  4. ^ An Originator (PDF) Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  5. ^ Royal College of Art Exhibition Collaboration Helps John Lewis Celebrate Being 150 Royal College of Art Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Doppel - performance-enchancing technology KickStarter
  8. ^ Konopka, Tomasz; Markopoulou, Fotini; Severini, Simone (6 Jan 2008) "Quantum Graphity: a model of emergent locality"
  9. ^ A. Hamma, F. Markopoulou, S. Loyd, F. Caravelli, S. Severini, K. Markstrom (27 Nov 2009) "A quantum Bose-Hubbard model with evolving graph as toy model for emergent spacetime"

External links[edit]