- Scott Aaronson, PDF 2007
- Anne Broadbent, PDF 2013
- Donny Cheung, Master's 2002, PhD 2007
- Audrey Dot, PDF 2014
- Agnes Ferenczi, PhD 2013
- Jay Gambetta, PDF 2011
- Gus Gutoski, Master's 2006, PhD 2009, PDF 2016
- Gina Passante, PhD 2012
- Sarah Sheldon, PDF 2013
- Urbasi Sinha, PDF 2012
- Douglas Stebila, PhD 2009
- Nathan Wiebe, PDF 2013
After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at IQC in 2007, Scott Aaronson accepted the position of Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He moved to the University of Texas at Austin as David J. Bruton Jr. Centennial Professor of Computer Science and as the founding director of UT Austin's new quantum computing center.
His research interests include the capabilities and limits of quantum computers and computational complexity theory. His recently published book Quantum Computing since Democritus provides insight and perspectives into “the deepest ideas of math, computer science and physics.” Aaronson is also known for his blog Shtetl-Optimized about quantum computing and quantum information science. Aaronson credits his time at IQC for “bringing him out of his shell” and also where he learned to drive.
Technological advances will see the need for a deeper theoretical understanding of quantum information at all levels, predicts Anne Broadbent, Assistant Professor and University Research Chair in Quantum Information Processing at the University of Ottawa. Broadbent was a postdoctoral fellow at IQC until 2013. She held an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship and was also a CIFAR Global Scholar. Her research focused on quantum cryptography and developing methods for delegating private quantum computations and quantum one-time programs.
Broadbent acknowledges the value of exposure to a broad range of research topics and experience in training students during her time at IQC. Now leading her own research group at the University of Ottawa, Broadbent continues to push the limits of our understanding of how quantum information provides advantages in all aspects of cryptography. She has also further developed techniques for outsourcing quantum computations in terms of quantum homomorphic encryption, as well as verifying remote quantum computations.
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.
During her time as a Postdoctoral Fellow at IQC, Audrey Dot was using four-wave mixing in optical fibre to convert a single photon into a pair of photons. Dot, along with her supervisor Thomas Jennewein, PhD student Evan Meyer-Scott and colleagues at McGill University, Montreal, sent a single photon through the optical fibre with a strong pump beam to produce a pair of photons with increased efficiency compared to previous methods. Dot then brought her knowledge and research skills to the smart thermostat company Qivivo, where she worked on machine learning algorithms as a Physicist Engineer.
Now she is at the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in France, an industrial research centre. She is working on 3D time-resolved diffused optical tomographic reconstruction for medical applications, a process used to model organs like the heart in order to find problems such as tumours and occlusions quickly and without intrusion.
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.
Jay Gambetta completed his postdoctoral fellowship at IQC in 2011 with a research focus on quantum information processing with superconducting qubits. Since leaving IQC, he continues to investigate this area as a Research Staff Member at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. Gambetta’s work with superconducting qubits is promising for the future of quantum computation and the development of a quantum computer. He spends his free time outdoors hiking and cycling with his family.
Gus Gutoski is using the skills he gained at IQC to develop quantum-safe security for conventional computing systems at ISARA, a Waterloo-based company founded in 2015. While earning his Master’s and PhD degrees at IQC, Gutoski studied quantum computational complexity theory and the mathematical foundations of quantum information. Then, during his time as a postdoctoral fellow, he gradually shifted focus to quantum cryptography.
“At IQC, I acquired a level of academic maturity that made it easy to identify and transfer the relevant skills and knowledge I already possessed and to identify and acquire the new skills and knowledge necessary for quantum-resistant cryptography,” he said. This foundation eased his transition to ISARA where he evaluates and improves cryptographic algorithms. He is excited to investigate his ideas about improving lattice-based signature schemes in the near future. In the long-term, he expects that the past two decades of rapid progress in the mathematic and computational aspects of quantum information science will continue.
When he’s not working on cryptography, Gutoski can be found camping in the woods or playing ultimate Frisbee.
During her PhD studies at IQC, Gina Passante’s research focused on detecting and measuring quantum correlations in a class of quantum computers known as Deterministic Quantum Computation with One Quantum Bit (DQC1), a type of system with “mixed qubits” – Passante’s interest was in qubits that could not be entangled. She found that there are quantum correlations that go beyond what can be seen in the classical world in mixed state quantum computers.
Now working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Passante is part of the Physics Education Group where she is contributing to improving the education of future physicists. Passante explores how students learn quantum mechanics. “With the emergence of quantum technologies, it is more important than ever to better educate physics majors in this area,” she says. She plans on continuing her research in this field and broadening her scope to include how a quantum mechanics curriculum might one day be incorporated into high school classrooms. As a creative outlet, Passante enjoys knitting and sewing, and is an active volleyball player.
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.”
Former IQC postdoctoral fellow Urbasi Sinah’s research focused mainly on quantum optics-based tools used to perform fundamental tests of quantum mechanics. During her time at IQC, Sinha developed a holistic approach towards her research that she finds useful in her current role as Associate Professor at the Raman Research Institute in India. “At IQC I learned how to accept success and failure with equal gusto and carry on enthusiastically with results both big and small,” says Sinha.
Currently, a major aspect of her research involves manufacturing and employing single photons and entangled photons produced by spontaneous parametric down conversion towards experiments in quantum information and computing. One of her experimental projects explores the use of multiple slits as possible qudits and investigating higher dimensional quantum correlations through studies of entanglement-based phenomena.
Sinha expects to see exceptional progress in quantum information science experiments, theories and simulations over the next 5 to 10 years, predicting advances in error correction by solid state qubit researchers as well as an increasing number of novel qubits used in quantum information processing which will cumulatively bring us a step closer to the quantum computer.
In the news: Asia’s Scientific Trailblazers - Urbasi Sinha
After completing his PhD in 2009 with a focus on cryptographic key exchange protocols, IQC alumnus Douglas Stebila ventured down under to Brisbane, Australia for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Queensland University of Technology. Stebila was a Senior Lecturer at QUT investigating provable security of real-world cryptographic protocols – specifically looking at the security properties of protocols used in web browsers and other online communications. As quantum computing evolves and impacts classical cryptography, Stebila hopes to contribute to the development of new standards for cryptographic protocols. When he’s not exploring future possibilities of security protocols, Stebila enjoys scuba diving in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.
On July 1, 2018, Stebila joined the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics as an associate professor in the department of combinatorics and optimization.
Nathan Wiebe, currently an Associate Researcher in the Quantum Architectures and Computation group at Microsoft Research, finished his postdoctoral fellowship at IQC in 2013. Since then he has continued his research on quantum simulation algorithms and the foundations of quantum thermodynamics, and ventured into quantum machine learning algorithms and quantum circuit synthesis. Wiebe credits his time at IQC for the opportunity to build connections with world-renowned researchers who exposed him to new ideas, an experience that has contributed to his chosen career path in industry research. The IQC Graduate Student Association invited Wiebe back to IQC in October to share his experience in industry research with current graduate students as part of the Quantum Industry Lecture Series. Looking ahead, Wiebe predicts the landscape and scope of quantum information research to continue changing as more industry partners invest in the field.