The next generation of scientific leaders leave the Institute for Quantum Computing with the research skills and interdisciplinary insight needed to navigate the ever-changing landscape of discovery in areas of academia, industry and government.

Sarah SheldonSarah Sheldon,
Postdoctoral Fellow 2013

During her most recent return to IQC, former postdoctoral fellow SARAH SHELDON instructed a session on IBM’s Quantum Experience, a cloud-enabled quantum processor, with a room of Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing (USEQIP) participants. Sheldon is part of the experimental quantum computing team at IBM Research that is currently pursuing a quantum computing architecture based on superconducting qubits and error corrections through surface code. She is developing new calibration and characterization techniques to better understand the errors present in the quantum system.

“The research I did while at IQC was very relevant for my current position with IBM,” said Sheldon. She earned her PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Nuclear Science and Engineering with advisor DAVID CORY. Sheldon studied nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and electron spin resonance (ESR), focusing mostly on dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) and quantum control. As a postdoctoral fellow at IQC, Sheldon was exposed to different approaches to quantum computing research that motivated her to select a research group that incorporated both theory and experiment, engineering as well as basic science. “Quantum computing is such an interdisciplinary field. I think it’s beneficial to be in a research community like IQC or IBM where there are many people with wide-ranging interests and backgrounds within the broader field.”

Agnes FerencziAgnes Ferenczi,
PhD 2013

When faced with a challenge, AGNES FERENCZI sees an opportunity for discovery. Ferenczi currently investigates a variety of areas including machine learning, software development, user experience and search algorithm implementations at Cliqz, a search engine and browser company focused on privacy. Here, she uses the research tools and skills she developed during her PhD research on quantum cryptography with IQC researcher NORBERT LÜTKENHAUS.

With an emphasis on security proofs for quantum cryptography systems, Ferenczi adapted quantum theories to match current experimental capabilities, bridging the gap between theory and experimental reality. Her PhD research included a revision to the phase encoded BB84 protocol where quantum information is transmitted using photon polarization. In this scenario, one party sends out two laser pulses. One laser pulse stays the same and the other weakens, a result that was not initially accounted for in the theoretical proof. “We adapt the proof to allow for imperfections in the experimental environment,” said Ferenczi. Simplifying the proof for experimental implementation often improves accessibility for experimentalists.

Donny CheungDonny Cheung,
Master's 2002, PhD 2007

DONNY CHEUNG was one of the very first graduate students at IQC. “It’s been amazing to watch IQC grow,” recalled Cheung. He remembers the excitement surrounding the official launch of IQC in 2002 and moving into the first IQC graduate student office space in the Math and Computer building at the University of Waterloo.

Under the supervision of researcher MICHELE MOSCA, Cheung’s research focused on approximate phase estimation algorithms, the quantum separability problem and quantum cellular automata. Cheung found the free and open flow of discussion on challenging problems and interesting ideas among researchers rewarding. The interdisciplinary research environment at IQC encouraged him to think broadly while considering connections between different scientific fields at the smallest scale. Cheung takes a similar research-based approach to challenges in his current role as a software engineer at Google where he is working on the Google Cloud Platform.