Listed below are the faculty for the Physics & Astronomy program.


Professional Overview: 

Associate Professor

School of Science » Physics and Astronomy
SMC Email Address: 
Contact Information: 

Galileo Hall 104

Phone: (925) 631-4426
Fax: (925) 631-6282
Email: ekb2@stmarys-ca.edu
Mail: P.O. Box 4237


  • University of California Berkeley: M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics, 2005.
  • Oxford University: B.A. in English Language and Literature, 1999.
  • Harvard University:  A.B. in Physics, 1997.

Courses Taught




Publications and preprints

  • E. Boyda, C. McCormick, D. Hammer, "Detecting Human Interventions on the Landscape: KAZE Features, Poisson Point Processes, and a Construction Dataset." ArXiv:1703.10196 (2017).

  • E. Boyda, S. Basu, S. Ganguly, A. Michaelis, S. Mukhopadhyay, R.R. Nemani, "Deploying a quantum annealing processor to detect tree cover in aerial imagery of California." PLoS One 12(2): e0172505 (2017).

  • S. Basu, et al., "A Semiautomated Probabilistic Framework for Tree-Cover Delineation from 1-m NAIP Imagery Using A High-Performance Computing Architecture." IEEE TGRS 53:10 (2015).

  • E. Boyda, Towards Cosmology in String Theory. Ph.D. dissertation (2004).

  • E.K. Boyda, S. Ganguli, P. Horava, U. Varadarajan, "Holographic Protection of Chronology in Universes of the Godel Type,"  Phys. Rev. D67:106003 (2003). ArXiv:hep-th/0212087.

  • E. Boyda, S.P. Smith, M. Prentiss, "Demonstration of a Long Working Distance Optical Tweezer." Prentiss Research Lab, Harvard University Department of Physics (2003). 

  • E. Boyda, H. Murayama, A. Pierce, "Dimensional Reduction in Anomaly Mediation." Phys. Rev. D65:085028 (2002). ArXiv:hep-ph/0107255.

  • S.P. Smith, S.R. Bhalotra, A.L. Brodie, B.L. Brown, E.K. Boyda, M. Prentiss, "Inexpensive Optical Tweezers for Undergraduate Laboratories." Amer. J. Phys. 67:26 (1999).

Some writing

  • "Graviton scattering, Berkeley, March 2005." LabLit.com (2014).

Active Research Projects

Information is physical.  The state spaces of quantum systems are exponentially large compared to their classical counterparts. These basic insights are driving efforts to encode difficult computational problems in the dynamics of quantum physical systems.  I collaborate with Earth scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center on machine learning for climate science, working to rewrite optimization problems into the dynamics of something akin to a microscopically-tuneable magnet. This early (and controversial: D-wave!) prototype hardware allows us to test quantum algorithms and provides insights into their classical counterparts. See:

E Boyda, S Basu, S Ganguly, A Michaelis, S Mukhopadhyay, R Nemani, "Deploying a quantum annealing processor to detect tree cover in aerial imagery of California," PLoS One, Feb. 2017.

And a write-up of that work in Science magazine.


In the past few years high resolution satellite imagery has become widely available to the public.  It's up for grabs how this information gets used, and by whom. Earth scientists, yes. Anthropologists? Journalists? Environmental activists? I am interested in the democratization of this information. On the technical side, there is work to be done to parse the imagery and to sift the vast incoming streams of data for notable events.  See: 

E Boyda, C McCormick, D Hammer, "Detecting human interventions on the landscape: KAZE features, Poisson point processes, and a construction dataset," ArXiv:1703.10196.


My brother and I have been thinking, in the context of documentary studies (he is a documentary film and new media scholar), about the unique digital materiality of media built from images on internet photo-sharing websites.   We've focused on the beautiful work of the Reconstructing Rome project out of the University of Washington, who set out to reconstruct a dynamic 3D model of Rome from the images tagged "Rome" on Flickr. We presented at Visible Evidence XX in Stockholm, 2013, and have a paper -- "Algorithmic City: 3D Viewing and the Haptic Database" -- out for review.