Celebrating Waterloo's graduating PhD students

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Waterloo recognizes six PhD students for earning the highest academic status within their faculty and their innovative research

By Angelica Marie Sanchez. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

For graduating PhD students, completing their dissertation defence is a significant milestone and convocation is an exciting time to celebrate their accomplishments with friends and family.

Six exceptional graduating PhD students have been chosen to share about their academic journey filled with innovation, resilience and passion. Read about our very own electrical and computer engineering graduating PhD student below.

Madelaine LiddyMadelaine Liddy’s (BASc ’14, PhD ’22) originally planned to go to medical school changed after completing her undergraduate studies in Nanotechnology Engineering at Waterloo. However, Liddy’s curiosity in quantum mechanics led her to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, where the program also allowed her to continue her interest in medicine through her research on how to improve quantum sensing techniques to create better medical diagnostic devices.

Liddy’s dissertation research focused on nitrogen vacancy centers which are quantum centers in a diamond lattice. When working with a quantum center at room temperature, it removes the need for any cryogenic cooling hardware that is commonly required for quantum mediums.

“This combined with its magnetic field sensing properties, makes it a great candidate for developing real world quantum sensing devices,” Liddy says. “These devices can be used for anything from sensing defects in blood or water, imaging nano sized magnetic fields or even for navigational purposes as an alternative to GPS.”

What advice would Liddy give to other PhD students? Never be afraid to ask for help.

“I really struggled with feelings of isolation and thinking I was the only one experiencing these challenges when that is so far from the truth,” Liddy says. “Opening up about these feelings was the key to finishing my degree!”

Some of Liddy’s fondest memories were made during the friendships she developed over the years, as well as being awarded the Dutch Liberation Scholarship, which led her to meet the King and Queen of the Netherlands.

Leaving Waterloo, Liddy says she will miss the people the most and the friendships she developed over the past 13 years. But says she won’t miss being chased by geese while riding her bike.

“I developed so many deep friendships at Waterloo, both over my time in my undergrad and graduate school,” Liddy says. “The subject matter and research I studied was also amazing, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I would miss either of those as I will carry them with me no matter where I go.”

Next for Liddy is a quantum resident position at Sandbox AQ in California starting in August 2022.

Read the full article originally published on Waterloo News.

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