It was a hunch that led Maria Julia Maristany to travel thousands of kilometres from her home in Cordoba, Argentina to attend the Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing (USEQIP) at the Institute for Quantum Computing. It was that same intuition that has shaped her educational path ever since.
Maristany had a tough choice to make: attend USEQIP, or a program in Europe focused on particle physics. That’s where the hunch came in. “I felt like USEQIP was very well put together. That it encouraged collaboration. And it felt like I was going to be living with people who could talk about physics during lunch and dinner and before going to sleep, and that’s exactly what happened,” she said.
Maristany returned to finish school in Cordoba, but she knew she had to come back. Two years later and now a Master’s student at IQC, she touts the benefits of USEQIP for anyone looking for an introduction to quantum information science. “I’m living out the obvious advantages of the program,” said Maristany. “That you’re working with important experts in the field is critical.”
One of those experts, Canada Excellence Research Chair Laureate David Cory, took on Maristany as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA), and now Raymond Laflamme and John Watrous are supervising her work on discrete time quantum random walks and topological phases for her Master’s in Science. These two areas of research are quite distinct, but Maristany values having a broad knowledge base.
To diversify her education even further, she is exploring other aspects of physics at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) through their Scholars International program. Maristany also values diversity of people, and it was the international cohort of USEQIP, and IQC in general, that Maristany attributes to a welcoming learning environment and an increased sense of belonging.
Now, Maristany hopes to extend that welcoming feeling through scientific outreach with the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo, PI and IQC.
“With scientific outreach, you can try to encourage kids to pursue science as a career—you don’t need to be a crazy, genius Einstein to be able to do it,” said Maristany. “For all of those who do not necessarily want to do science as a career, you can help them realize it’s still within their reach; they can understand it if they want to, and it can make everyday life better.”