Physicist Benjamin Maclellan awarded Vanier Graduate Scholarship

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Headshot of Benjamin Maclellan

The Faculty of Science is proud to congratulate Benjamin MacLellan, a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and IQC at the University of Waterloo, for being selected as a Vanier Scholar this year.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program is awarded annually to highly qualified doctoral students who demonstrate academic excellence, research potential and leadership. Valued at $150,000 over three years, this prestigious scholarship was developed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to attract and retain world-class doctoral students in Canada.

MacLellan’s research focuses on light-based quantum technologies, specifically developing numerical approaches for the design and characterization of entangled photons. His research uses ideas and techniques from artificial intelligence to guide the development of quantum photonic devices. His work is supervised by Dr. Roger Melko, the Canada Research Chair in Computational Quantum Many-Body Physics and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“Precise control over light is essential to many modern technologies; for example, communication systems which span the globe, imaging of biological tissue, and detecting pathogens in air and water,” says MacLellan. “Harnessing the quantum effects of light, such as entanglement, opens the door to a new generation of light-based technologies with capabilities that surpass current approaches.”

The field of quantum information science excites MacLellan because of the range of areas and technologies it will impact. New knowledge and technological improvements happen at a fast pace within quantum science, and he is invigorated by the cross-pollination of ideas between researchers and institutes in the various sub-fields of quantum information.

“The beautiful and captivating physics that underpin these technologies is so inspiring,” he says. “They will lead to new advances in our fundamental understanding of nature.”

Receiving the Vanier Scholarship will give MacLellan a greater opportunity to follow his scientific curiosity and pursue the greatest possible impact of his research.

“I’m honoured to receive this support to undertake my doctoral research at the University of Waterloo, an institution which has been foundational to my learning and growth, and which has a vibrant ecosystem of training, research and industry in quantum information science.”

MacLellan’s biggest piece of advice for other students is to talk to other people about their research, ask questions, be generous with your knowledge, and look to find intersections that can lead to new and interesting research ideas. He also thinks it is important to connect with the science beyond your immediate research area, through activities like outreach or making connections with industry.

MacLellan is one of six new Vanier Scholar awardees at the University of Waterloo this year.