IQC graduate student wins Vanier Scholarship

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In recognition of his research in open quantum dynamics and his leadership within the Waterloo Physics community, PhD student Daniel Grimmer won a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship valued at $150,000 over three years.

Grimmer, a researcher with the Institute for Quantum Computing and Department of Physics and Astronomy, investigates decoherence, a serious obstacle to building a universal quantum computer. Quantum systems are very fragile. Useful quantum properties like entanglement and superposition require extreme isolation of just a few particles to manifest. Once the particles interact with a larger environment, the quantum behaviour disappears—that is decoherence.  Open quantum dynamics considers a quantum system which is engaged with an environment and studies the mechanics of decoherence in that system. A better understanding of how this process works at a theoretical level may help researchers combat decoherence as they try to build a quantum computer.

Grimmer’s supervisor Robert Mann nominated him for his research excellence as well as his leadership in the Physics Graduate Student Association (GSA). Grimmer has been instrumental in growing the Physics GSA and strengthening the ties between the spatially separated research communities of the department at the University of Waterloo, IQC and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

The Vanier Scholarship will give Grimmer more freedom to carry on his research and attend conferences. “It really is an honour, and it is definitely going to help,” said Grimmer of winning the award. “Conferences are one of the main ways to learn about and be inspired by other people's research, as well as teach and inspire. You can't really have a dialogue if you just read papers.”

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship Program was established by the Government of Canada in 2008 to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, or health sciences.

Grimmer was also awarded the President’s Graduate Scholarship (PGS) by the University of Waterloo, valued at a minimum of $10,000 for every year that he holds the Vanier scholarship as a full-time Waterloo graduate student. Waterloo provides the PGS to outstanding graduate students who hold major federally and provincially funded competition-based scholarships.