ERAs are prestigious grants given to recently-appointed faculty members across Ontario to assist them in building their research teams. The goal of the program is to help the province attract and retain the best and brightest young talent from around the world. Each researcher receives $140,000 through the program.
Vieira received the ERA on May 4, 2012 at an award ceremony alongside other recipients from Waterloo Region. The event included remarks by Ontario Minister John Milloy on the importance of the program, as well as thanks to the province from Michael Duschenes, Perimeter’s Chief Operating Officer, on behalf of the Institute.
Pedro Vieira was awarded the ERA for his proposal, "Quantum Field Theory at Finite Coupling." His research in this areas largely concerns strongly coupled gauge theory, including quantum chromodynamics – a gauge theory which describes the properties of subatomic particles called quarks and the forces that act on them.
In various combinations, quarks make up the protons and neutrons that in turn compose all matter. Despite their ubiquity, they are far from being completely understood. At high energies, quarks are weakly coupled – able to break free of the particles they make up – and physicists have a good physical description of their behaviour. This is why we can check this theory in huge particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
On the other hand, at lower energies quarks become "strongly coupled" to each other, and current theoretical tools (with a few limited exceptions) are not powerful enough to describe their behaviour. Theorists cannot, for example, answer such basic questions as why a proton weighs what it does. New tools to better understand strongly coupled gauge theories are critically needed. With the support of the ERA grant, Vieira will work to develop these mathematical tools.