Professor Francesco Petruccione 60th birthday.

Today we acknowledge a very special occasion: Professor Francesco Petruccione,

NITheCS’ interim Director celebrates his 60th birthday.

In the past 60 years Francesco has proved to be a man of many talents. Born in Italy, he spent his formative years as a researcher in Freiburg, Germany. Following his habilitation in 1994 he took up a Professorship in  South Africa in 2004, and was awarded the Research Chair in Quantum Information at the University of KwaZulu-Natal shortly after. Durban soon became home – even more so when he met his wonderful wife, Monique.

In his new position Francesco has worked tirelessly to lay the foundations of what is now one of the biggest quantum research groups in Africa. It is part of his bigger vision of connecting the continent to cutting-edge innovation, technology and research; a vision that Francesco pursues with a refreshingly open mind, impeccable manners even in the face of adversity, and a taste for unusual solutions (such as encrypting communications during the 2010 Soccer World Cup using Quantum Information, or using mathematical combinatorics to design efficient Covid testing strategies for the Sharks Rugby team). We as his students have benefitted from his relentless support, which enabled us to follow career paths as diverse as being part of the international effort of building the first generation of quantum computers, implementing Artificial Intelligence in Africa, and going to Mars.

His latest project, transforming NITheP into the National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences, will leave an equally strong legacy. Acknowledging the importance of computation to the development of science, this transformation sets South Africa up to equip the next generation of scientists with the tools they need to contribute to the global research landscape.

Francesco, we congratulate you on this milestone and hope there are many more celebrations to come.

Your Quantum Research Group, UKZN
6 July 2021