CQT Alumni

The Centre for Quantum Technologies has employed hundreds of scientists and trained tens of PhD students since it was established. Our former colleagues have since taken their skills into a variety of new roles. Many of our alumni continue in academic research, but others work across a wide range of industries. CQT alumni are found in banking, consulting, and in technical jobs, including data science and engineering.
The charts give an overview of the next jobs for CQT alumni, summarising responses from 160 staff and students to a survey carried out in August 2021.
 

Beginning a new chapter as an assistant professor

Supartha Podder, Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2011 – 2016), interviewed November 2021

Since joining Stony Brook University’s computer science department in the middle of October 2021, CQT graduate Supartha Podder is settling into his role as an Assistant Professor.

 

He is anticipating new responsibilities which include supervising students and teaching a graduate course on quantum computing in the coming semester. “Quantum computing is a topic close to my heart and I am getting the opportunity to teach it,” says Supartha. “I am really looking forward to that.” He will also be a part of the recruiting committee for the new student intake.

 

Supartha’s passion for educating and helping others shows in another project. Since 2011, he runs AALO, a charity organisation for underprivileged students in India, with friends from his undergraduate days. The organisation provides scholarships for students to continue their education and one-to-one mentorship.

 

In his research, Supartha works on quantum computing and complexity theory. He says he is fascinated by the possibility of quantum advantage, which asks for what problems quantum computers can or cannot give a speedup over classical computers, and how much speedup they can give. Supartha is also fascinated by quantum cryptography, an area of cryptography where quantum objects are used to achieve cryptographic tasks that are either classically impossible or less efficient.

 

“CQT gave me a lot of exposure to research which has already and is going to help me a lot,” says Supartha who enjoyed interactions with researchers at CQT and visitors from around the world, remembering exchanging ideas in CQT’s Quantum Café. Supartha completed his PhD in computer science in 2016 and was supervised by Principal Investigator Hartmut Klauck.

 

While in Singapore, he enjoyed the amenities the NUS campus had to offer, Singapore’s food, nature trails, places that he could visit with his family and rollerblading in West Coast Park. He also made lifelong friends. “When we had to leave Singapore, my wife and I were very sad. I would put it as some of the best five years of my life both academically and non-academically,” says Supartha.

 


 

On to tenure track in the Ivy League

Anurag Anshu, Postdoctoral researcher, Simons Institute for Theory of Computing, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2013 – 2018), interviewed November 2021

CQT graduate Anurag Anshu believes that there is value in delving into research areas that are confusing, where he thinks important discoveries lie. He says, "The resources at CQT are really helpful for pursuing research in such areas. Our tendency is to gravitate away from them and move towards well-established fields with deeply founded knowledge. But it can be hard to discover new principles in the latter".

 

Anurag joined CQT’s PhD programme in 2013 and completed his PhD in computer science in 2018. He now works on quantum information and quantum Hamiltonian complexity. “The self-improving nature of research can be pleasingly addictive: good questions lead to better questions which lead to even better questions,” he says. Anurag counts himself fortunate to have worked on such interdisciplinary problems, especially at the intersection of physics and computer science.

 

He credits his graduate life, his supervisor CQT Principal Investigator Rahul Jain, and his colleagues for shaping his current research interests. His graduate experience has also moulded his approach towards mentoring students as a postdoctoral researcher at the Simons Institute for Theory of Computing. “This will be extremely important as I start bringing together a research group,” says Anurag who will be moving to a new faculty position at Harvard University in 2022.

 

On his time at CQT, Anurag’s most vivid memory is an exhibition day organised by the CQT outreach team at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. “My role was to show an exhibit on a soap bubble computer,” he says. “It was wonderful to see how well the visitors appreciated the underlying principle that ‘computation is physical’. I learned a lot about the value of scientific outreach that day.”


 

Applying academic skills and values

Rafael Rabelo, Associate Professor, Institute of Physics of the University of Campinas, Brazil
CQT PhD graduate (2010 – 2013), interviewed September 2021

Rafael Rabelo graduated from CQT’s PhD programme in 2013 after successfully defending his thesis “On Quantum Nonlocality and The Device-independent Paradigm”. “I have several great memories of CQT, but defending my thesis is the most vivid one,” says Rafael. “The feeling of finally accomplishing this important goal was awesome!”
 
Now, Rafael is supervising students himself. Besides supervising undergraduate and graduate students, Rafael’s responsibilities as an Associate Professor at the Institute of Physics of the University of Campinas in Brazil also include lecturing, research and taking part in administrative committees.
 
In his current role, Rafael draws greatly from his past experience as a student. He says, “In CQT, with Valerio in particular, I have not only learned quantum information theory but also several other values and skills, from professional ethics to project management, that have a great impact on my work.” CQT Principal Investigator Valerio Scarani was Rafael’s PhD supervisor.
 
Rafael works on the foundations of quantum theory, investigating nonclassical phenomena such as Bell nonlocality and Bell-Kochen-Specker contextuality. His advice to prospective or current PhD students: be curious. “Focusing on research, I think curiosity can be an important driving force,” Rafael says. “When one is genuinely curious about a topic or a research problem, there is already a huge motivation for them to do research extensively, thoroughly, and joyfully.”


 

Bridging academic research and industry with quantum know-how

Jirawat Tangpanitanon, Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Technology Foundation (Thailand) (QTFT), Thailand
CQT PhD graduate (2014 – 2019), interviewed June 2021

As a PhD student, and subsequently Research Fellow, in the group of CQT’s Dimitris Angelakis, Jirawat Tangpanitanon had a chance to work with various companies both in Thailand and Singapore, including the quantum AI team at Google. The experience inspired him to notice the gap between academia and industry. After leaving CQT in September 2020, he co-founded the startup QTFT to address this gap.
 
Based in Jirawat’s home country Thailand, QTFT is a consulting agency for quantum technologies, currently serving clients from logistics, aviation and finance industries. The team works with academics to produce research to suit the needs of industry, and with businesses planning to leverage on quantum computing. As Chief Executive Officer, Jirawat engages with many corporate clients looking for ideas to add business value to their companies. “It is a completely different scenario from when I was a scientist exploring new knowledge,” he says. To bring them suggestions, he draws on the deep knowledge of quantum computing he gained in his time at CQT and the connections he built with international researchers.


 

A journey into quantum finance

Davit Aghamalyan, Research Scientist, Singapore Management University, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2011 – 2015), interviewed February 2021

Over the years, Davit has worked in many different areas of quantum physics. “It’s been a big journey,” he says. Joining CQT’s PhD programme in 2011, he completed his thesis on “Atomtronics: Quantum Technology with Cold Atoms in Ring Shaped Optical Lattices” supervised by Kwek Leong Chuan. After graduating, he moved to France for a postdoctoral stint where he worked on cold atom collisions. He returned to CQT in 2017 as a Research Fellow. Then, Davit was part of a collaboration between CQT and A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing on quantum optical systems.
 
Now, Davit has moved his quantum expertise into machine learning. Davit joined Singapore Management University in July 2020 as a Research Scientist. With his supervisor, Paul Griffin, he is exploring the potential of quantum machine learning to make better predictive models for credit scoring. 


 

Supporting the semiconductor industry

Debashis De Munshi, Systems Engineer, KLA Tencor, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2012 – 2017), interviewed April 2020

Debashis did his PhD in the experimental laboratory of CQT’s Manas Mukherjee, building and running experiments on trapped barium ions. He then worked briefly as a postdoc in the Centre before accepting a job with KLA Tencor, a multinational company that develops inspection and metrology technologies for the semiconductor and nanoelectronics industries. He joined KLA Tencor’s Singapore facility in September 2017 as Systems Engineer (manufacturing). “The machines we build are extremely complex,” Debashis says. “My job is to troubleshoot issues during manufacturing and to suggest and perform design changes.” His leaning towards industry was apparent even earlier, as he filed a patent application and developed ideas for businesses during his PhD. Now, he relishes the chance to embrace the challenges of commercial technological developments. In 2019, he moved to the company’s San Francisco location.


 

An easy move into data science

Paul Condylis, Head of Data Science, Tokopedia, Singapore
Former Senior Research Fellow (2010 – 2016), interviewed April 2020

Paul Condylis was a Research Fellow in experimental groups in CQT for over six years before shifting his career into the commercial world as a data scientist. He is now Head of Data Science in Singapore for the Indonesian tech company Tokopedia. Before taking this role in 2020, he worked for the Singapore-based fintech company Jewel Paymentech. As Lead Research Scientist , his role involved developing deep learning and machine learning models to understand text documents, classify images, and identify fraudulent transactions. “Moving from experimental physics into data science and AI was easy due to the skills I acquired as a researcher,” Paul says, “The grounding of a physics education gives you the ability to read and understand the current literature in AI, and then apply those techniques.”

 


 

Developing technology for oil and gas companies

Wilson Chin Yue Sum, Physicist, Schlumberger, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2014 – 2018), interviewed April 2020

After completing his PhD in quantum optics in 2018, Wilson Chin looked for a job outside academia. Another CQT alumnus working at Schlumberger, a provider of technology to the oil and gas industry, introduced Wilson to the company. Wilson is employed as a physicist in the Singapore Well Testing Center developing a multiphase flowmeter based on Gamma spectroscopy. He enjoys the opportunity to apply physics to commercial technology. “I appreciate the company’s capability as the technology lead in its field,” Wilson says. “The PhD training as a physicist has shaped my problem solving approach and perspective, which is perhaps the key differentiator in my new role.” Wilson completed his PhD supervised by Christian Kurtsiefer on “Light-atom coupling with 4PI Microscopy”.

 


 

Exploring space frontiers for quantum technology

Aitor Villar Zafra, Quantum Engineer, SpeQtral, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2015 – 2019), interviewed 2019

Originally from Spain, Aitor Villar Zafra moved to Singapore in 2014 for an internship at CQT, then joined the Centre’s PhD programme. Aitor earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in telecommunications engineering, converting his skills to quantum communication during his research project in the group of Alexander Ling. He earned his PhD for "Building Entangled Photon Pair Sources for Quantum Key Distribution with Nano-Satellites". Aitor continues this work as a Quantum Engineer for the CQT spin-off company SpeQtral. The company is developing space-based quantum networks for global delivery of secure encryption keys. Aitor chose to stay in Singapore, seeking the worklife balance the country offers: "here I can focus on my career without neglecting family plans in the future".
 


 

Editor draws on international research experience

Li Yun, Associate Editor, American Physical Society, China
Former Research Fellow (2013 – 2014), interviewed November 2021

Former CQT Research Fellow Li Yun is now an Associate Editor for the American Physical Society’s (APS) Physical Review X. She joined APS in March 2021 after four years as an editor with Nature Physics. “What I like about being an editor is that I can see lots of new research in different areas before the paper is published,” says Yun.

 

As an editor, Yun handles papers from when they are submitted. She reads the papers and relevant literature, provides assessment on whether a paper is an important discovery or significant advance in the field, seeks qualified referees to review the papers if needed, and communicates decisions about the acceptance or rejection of a paper with the authors and referees. “We work with many different people,” Yun says. “It is also exciting to handle a paper and see it improve during the review process with your help.”

 

With her background in theoretical atomic physics and many-body interactions, Yun usually handles papers in this field. Originally from China, her research career took her to France, Italy, Singapore and Australia. While at CQT from 2013 to 2014, she was a member of Berge Englert’s group and learnt Monte-Carlo simulations. For example, she was first author on a paper about “Berry curvature of interacting bosons in a honeycomb lattice” that required these numerical techniques.

 

Yun thinks having spent time in many different places is advantageous for her work. “For editors, having a broad knowledge of different fields and the people working in the fields is very important,” she says. “I’m glad I spent one year in Singapore which let me know about the good researchers there.”

 

In her current role, Yun continues to interact with the research community. She does outreach such as attending conferences and talks to researchers about important results and what they are looking for in the future in their field.

 

Designing quantum processors in a fast-moving start-up

Alessandro Landra, Quantum Design Engineer, IQM, Finland
CQT PhD graduate (2015 – 2020), interviewed September 2021

CQT graduate Alessandro Landra started to think about opportunities in corporate research during the second half of his PhD in quantum computing. “I was really interested in what major companies like Google and IBM were doing,” says Alessandro. “These companies have the means to move fast in superconducting qubit architecture development.”

 

 

He began looking for a role in a company in early 2020. In September 2020, he was interviewed by IQM, a major European start-up building superconducting quantum computers. Alessandro started his new role as Quantum Design Engineer at the company in October. Now based in Espoo, Finland, Alessandro is part of a team designing and simulating IQM’s quantum chips. He designs IQM’s line-up of quantum processors and works on KQCircuits, IQM’s open source software tool for drawing automation of quantum processors.

 

While much more specialised, Alessandro’s current work is not too different from his work as a student. In the lab of Principal Investigator Rainer Dumke, his supervisor, he gained a wide breadth of experience working on designing, manufacturing, installing and measuring superconducting quantum chips, all essential skills in his new role.

 

The work is very dynamic. For every generation of processors, the company has tight deadlines and many teams work together to deliver the product. “I am enjoying basically everything,” says Alessandro. “Luckily, here at IQM, we have the resources to progress as fast as we want to.”

 

Well-equipped for a career in physics research

Bobby Tan Kok Chuan, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2010 – 2014), interviewed August 2021

Bobby Tan completed his PhD at CQT in 2014 and is pursuing a career in physics research. Now a Presidential Postdoctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, he investigates the potential of quantum computers for the study of quantum phase transitions. This work could potentially lead to the discovery of new materials with novel quantum properties, which could be used in future quantum technologies.
 
“I think it is a very exciting time to work in quantum information right now as real quantum computers are just starting to be available,” says Bobby. “It is a tremendous privilege to be in the field right now and see what will potentially be the Next Big Thing develop right in front of your eyes.” Bobby’s PhD, supervised by Dagomir Kaszlikowski, was on “Quantum Correlations in Composite Particles”.
 
Bobby’s work is almost a direct extension of his studies. “I am glad to say I am using every bit of skill I acquired during my PhD in my current role,” he says. However, he notes that there are different expectations for research fellows, which means lesser time and luxury to explore completely different subject topics because of the need to produce new results and publish papers.
 
Bobby will soon embark on a new challenge. He was recently offered an Assistant Professorship at the University of Electronic Science Technology China (UESTC) in Chengdu, China. He is expecting to move to his new position by the end of 2021.
 

 

Specialised skills for building quantum hardware

Francesca Tosto, Quantum Engineer, IQM, Finland
CQT PhD graduate (2015 – 2020), interviewed February 2021

CQT PhD graduate Francesca Tosto earned her PhD for “On-demand Atomtronic Architectures on a Superconducting Atom Chip” in the group of Rainer Dumke in 2020. She was then hired to be a quantum engineer at IQM, a quantum computing hardware startup. The company is based in Helsinki, Finland, and has about 70 employees at its headquarters. Its goal is to deliver full-stack superconducting quantum computers to research laboratories, supercomputing centres and industrial customers.
 
On a usual day, Francesca works on the calibration and benchmarking of IQM’s processors. She enjoys working closely with diverse people who have highly specialised skills. Francesca credits the training she received during her PhD for laying the foundations for her new role, even if the technology is a little different. “I learnt the methodology of working in the lab, from setting up an experiment, measuring and characterising it, to identifying and fixing issues that occur,” she says.

 

Adding to quantum expertise at Microsoft

Aarthi Sundaram, Postdoctoral Researcher, Microsoft, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2012 – 2017), interviewed April 2020

Aarthi Sundaram completed her PhD in computer science at CQT in 2017, supervised by Miklos Santha. Her research involved work on quantum algorithms and the mathematical complexity of problems. Now, she is a postdoctoral researcher in the Quantum Systems team at Microsoft, where her main focus is to analyse both the powers and limitations of quantum computing. “It is definitely a big bonus that I can continue working in an area I truly enjoy exploring,” Aarthi says. While the problems she is working on now may be different, the research skills and knowledge she picked up during her PhD studies influences her work to this day. Aarthi is also enjoying the opportunity to broaden her research interests and understanding. She says, “Working in a company that aims to deliver the full stack of quantum services, there is a chance to interact and learn from people with vastly different expertise.”

 

From quantum experiments to Apple hardware

Nick Lewty, Hardware Engineer, Apple, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2009 – 2014), interviewed April 2020

CQT PhD graduate Nick is now a Hardware Engineer for Apple in Singapore, developing devices to go into the company’s products. “The CQT PhD gives graduates the skillsets they need to compete in industry at a high level,” says Nick. He was hired by Apple in 2016 after an intense interviewing process. Nick completed his PhD in one of CQT’s ion-trapping groups in 2014. He then worked at CQT as a postdoc in quantum optics, before looking for jobs in optical engineering in industry. He found the Apple position through an advert online. At CQT Nick was involved in designing, building and programming complicated setups for precision measurements. “I use a lot of what I learnt in the lab. It’s not exactly the same tools, but the lab skills,” he says. This includes doing a lot of programming for the equipment they use. Nick can’t say what he works on for Apple. What he can say is “I am really enjoying it.”

 

Start-up co-founder and applied problem solver

Sambit Pal, Chief Technology Officer, mVizn, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2011 – 2016), interviewed April 2020

Sambit graduated from CQT’s PhD programme in 2017 and is now the Chief Technology Officer of mVizn, a company he co-founded. The company combines artificial intelligence with machine vision to support business processes. For example, its first major contract was with PSA Corporation (formerly Port of Singapore Authority) to deploy automated safety supervision systems on cranes and heavy machinery that move shipping containers. During his PhD, Sambit would play with business ideas in his free time and mVizn grew out of his entrepreneurial experiments. “After the first couple of years of my PhD, I knew I wanted to go into something where I could apply the knowledge I had been picking up,” says Sambit. Sambit’s PhD was in the experimental group of Kai Dieckmann on “Molecular Spectroscopy of Ultracold 6-lithuem and 40-potassium molecules: Towards STIRAP Transfer to Absolute Grand State”.

 

PhD earns more interesting work on memory chips

See Tian Feng, Senior Engineer, Micron, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2014 – 2019), interviewed 2019

CQT PhD graduate See Tian Feng was recruited by Micron in Singapore after meeting a hiring manager at a university careers fair. She joined the multinational memory and storage company in June 2019. Tian Feng completed her PhD supervised by Dimitris Angelakis on “Few-Photon Transport In Strongly Interacting Light-Matter Systems: A Scattering Approach”. These days she is involved in the manufacturing of memory chips. She analyses data from tests of NAND flash memory at intermediate production stages, checking performance before the product goes to the next step. Having a PhD is useful, she says: “People expect you to do more challenging tasks. From the onset, you are given the chance to do more interesting work because you hold the degree.”

 

Beginning a new chapter as an assistant professor

Supartha Podder, Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2011 – 2016), interviewed November 2021

Since joining Stony Brook University’s computer science department in the middle of October 2021, CQT graduate Supartha Podder is settling into his role as an Assistant Professor.

 

He is anticipating new responsibilities which include supervising students and teaching a graduate course on quantum computing in the coming semester. “Quantum computing is a topic close to my heart and I am getting the opportunity to teach it,” says Supartha. “I am really looking forward to that.” He will also be a part of the recruiting committee for the new student intake.

 

Supartha’s passion for educating and helping others shows in another project. Since 2011, he runs AALO, a charity organisation for underprivileged students in India, with friends from his undergraduate days. The organisation provides scholarships for students to continue their education and one-to-one mentorship.

 

In his research, Supartha works on quantum computing and complexity theory. He says he is fascinated by the possibility of quantum advantage, which asks for what problems quantum computers can or cannot give a speedup over classical computers, and how much speedup they can give. Supartha is also fascinated by quantum cryptography, an area of cryptography where quantum objects are used to achieve cryptographic tasks that are either classically impossible or less efficient.

 

“CQT gave me a lot of exposure to research which has already and is going to help me a lot,” says Supartha who enjoyed interactions with researchers at CQT and visitors from around the world, remembering exchanging ideas in CQT’s Quantum Café. Supartha completed his PhD in computer science in 2016 and was supervised by Principal Investigator Hartmut Klauck.

 

While in Singapore, he enjoyed the amenities the NUS campus had to offer, Singapore’s food, nature trails, places that he could visit with his family and rollerblading in West Coast Park. He also made lifelong friends. “When we had to leave Singapore, my wife and I were very sad. I would put it as some of the best five years of my life both academically and non-academically,” says Supartha.

 

 

Editor draws on international research experience

Li Yun, Associate Editor, American Physical Society, China
Former Research Fellow (2013 – 2014), interviewed November 2021

Former CQT Research Fellow Li Yun is now an Associate Editor for the American Physical Society’s (APS) Physical Review X. She joined APS in March 2021 after four years as an editor with Nature Physics. “What I like about being an editor is that I can see lots of new research in different areas before the paper is published,” says Yun.

 

As an editor, Yun handles papers from when they are submitted. She reads the papers and relevant literature, provides assessment on whether a paper is an important discovery or significant advance in the field, seeks qualified referees to review the papers if needed, and communicates decisions about the acceptance or rejection of a paper with the authors and referees. “We work with many different people,” Yun says. “It is also exciting to handle a paper and see it improve during the review process with your help.”

 

With her background in theoretical atomic physics and many-body interactions, Yun usually handles papers in this field. Originally from China, her research career took her to France, Italy, Singapore and Australia. While at CQT from 2013 to 2014, she was a member of Berge Englert’s group and learnt Monte-Carlo simulations. For example, she was first author on a paper about “Berry curvature of interacting bosons in a honeycomb lattice” that required these numerical techniques.

 

Yun thinks having spent time in many different places is advantageous for her work. “For editors, having a broad knowledge of different fields and the people working in the fields is very important,” she says. “I’m glad I spent one year in Singapore which let me know about the good researchers there.”

 

In her current role, Yun continues to interact with the research community. She does outreach such as attending conferences and talks to researchers about important results and what they are looking for in the future in their field.

 

On to tenure track in the Ivy League

Anurag Anshu, Postdoctoral researcher, Simons Institute for Theory of Computing, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2013 – 2018), interviewed November 2021

CQT graduate Anurag Anshu believes that there is value in delving into research areas that are confusing, where he thinks important discoveries lie. He says, "The resources at CQT are really helpful for pursuing research in such areas. Our tendency is to gravitate away from them and move towards well-established fields with deeply founded knowledge. But it can be hard to discover new principles in the latter".

 

Anurag joined CQT’s PhD programme in 2013 and completed his PhD in computer science in 2018. He now works on quantum information and quantum Hamiltonian complexity. “The self-improving nature of research can be pleasingly addictive: good questions lead to better questions which lead to even better questions,” he says. Anurag counts himself fortunate to have worked on such interdisciplinary problems, especially at the intersection of physics and computer science.

 

He credits his graduate life, his supervisor CQT Principal Investigator Rahul Jain, and his colleagues for shaping his current research interests. His graduate experience has also moulded his approach towards mentoring students as a postdoctoral researcher at the Simons Institute for Theory of Computing. “This will be extremely important as I start bringing together a research group,” says Anurag who will be moving to a new faculty position at Harvard University in 2022.

 

On his time at CQT, Anurag’s most vivid memory is an exhibition day organised by the CQT outreach team at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. “My role was to show an exhibit on a soap bubble computer,” he says. “It was wonderful to see how well the visitors appreciated the underlying principle that ‘computation is physical’. I learned a lot about the value of scientific outreach that day.”

 

Designing quantum processors in a fast-moving start-up

Alessandro Landra, Quantum Design Engineer, IQM, Finland
CQT PhD graduate (2015 – 2020), interviewed September 2021

CQT graduate Alessandro Landra started to think about opportunities in corporate research during the second half of his PhD in quantum computing. “I was really interested in what major companies like Google and IBM were doing,” says Alessandro. “These companies have the means to move fast in superconducting qubit architecture development.”

 

 

He began looking for a role in a company in early 2020. In September 2020, he was interviewed by IQM, a major European start-up building superconducting quantum computers. Alessandro started his new role as Quantum Design Engineer at the company in October. Now based in Espoo, Finland, Alessandro is part of a team designing and simulating IQM’s quantum chips. He designs IQM’s line-up of quantum processors and works on KQCircuits, IQM’s open source software tool for drawing automation of quantum processors.

 

While much more specialised, Alessandro’s current work is not too different from his work as a student. In the lab of Principal Investigator Rainer Dumke, his supervisor, he gained a wide breadth of experience working on designing, manufacturing, installing and measuring superconducting quantum chips, all essential skills in his new role.

 

The work is very dynamic. For every generation of processors, the company has tight deadlines and many teams work together to deliver the product. “I am enjoying basically everything,” says Alessandro. “Luckily, here at IQM, we have the resources to progress as fast as we want to.”

 

Applying academic skills and values

Rafael Rabelo, Associate Professor, Institute of Physics of the University of Campinas, Brazil
CQT PhD graduate (2010 – 2013), interviewed September 2021

Rafael Rabelo graduated from CQT’s PhD programme in 2013 after successfully defending his thesis “On Quantum Nonlocality and The Device-independent Paradigm”. “I have several great memories of CQT, but defending my thesis is the most vivid one,” says Rafael. “The feeling of finally accomplishing this important goal was awesome!”
 
Now, Rafael is supervising students himself. Besides supervising undergraduate and graduate students, Rafael’s responsibilities as an Associate Professor at the Institute of Physics of the University of Campinas in Brazil also include lecturing, research and taking part in administrative committees.
 
In his current role, Rafael draws greatly from his past experience as a student. He says, “In CQT, with Valerio in particular, I have not only learned quantum information theory but also several other values and skills, from professional ethics to project management, that have a great impact on my work.” CQT Principal Investigator Valerio Scarani was Rafael’s PhD supervisor.
 
Rafael works on the foundations of quantum theory, investigating nonclassical phenomena such as Bell nonlocality and Bell-Kochen-Specker contextuality. His advice to prospective or current PhD students: be curious. “Focusing on research, I think curiosity can be an important driving force,” Rafael says. “When one is genuinely curious about a topic or a research problem, there is already a huge motivation for them to do research extensively, thoroughly, and joyfully.”

 

Well-equipped for a career in physics research

Bobby Tan Kok Chuan, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2010 – 2014), interviewed August 2021

Bobby Tan completed his PhD at CQT in 2014 and is pursuing a career in physics research. Now a Presidential Postdoctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, he investigates the potential of quantum computers for the study of quantum phase transitions. This work could potentially lead to the discovery of new materials with novel quantum properties, which could be used in future quantum technologies.
 
“I think it is a very exciting time to work in quantum information right now as real quantum computers are just starting to be available,” says Bobby. “It is a tremendous privilege to be in the field right now and see what will potentially be the Next Big Thing develop right in front of your eyes.” Bobby’s PhD, supervised by Dagomir Kaszlikowski, was on “Quantum Correlations in Composite Particles”.
 
Bobby’s work is almost a direct extension of his studies. “I am glad to say I am using every bit of skill I acquired during my PhD in my current role,” he says. However, he notes that there are different expectations for research fellows, which means lesser time and luxury to explore completely different subject topics because of the need to produce new results and publish papers.
 
Bobby will soon embark on a new challenge. He was recently offered an Assistant Professorship at the University of Electronic Science Technology China (UESTC) in Chengdu, China. He is expecting to move to his new position by the end of 2021.
 

 

Bridging academic research and industry with quantum know-how

Jirawat Tangpanitanon, Chief Executive Officer, Quantum Technology Foundation (Thailand) (QTFT), Thailand
CQT PhD graduate (2014 – 2019), interviewed June 2021

As a PhD student, and subsequently Research Fellow, in the group of CQT’s Dimitris Angelakis, Jirawat Tangpanitanon had a chance to work with various companies both in Thailand and Singapore, including the quantum AI team at Google. The experience inspired him to notice the gap between academia and industry. After leaving CQT in September 2020, he co-founded the startup QTFT to address this gap.
 
Based in Jirawat’s home country Thailand, QTFT is a consulting agency for quantum technologies, currently serving clients from logistics, aviation and finance industries. The team works with academics to produce research to suit the needs of industry, and with businesses planning to leverage on quantum computing. As Chief Executive Officer, Jirawat engages with many corporate clients looking for ideas to add business value to their companies. “It is a completely different scenario from when I was a scientist exploring new knowledge,” he says. To bring them suggestions, he draws on the deep knowledge of quantum computing he gained in his time at CQT and the connections he built with international researchers.

 

Specialised skills for building quantum hardware

Francesca Tosto, Quantum Engineer, IQM, Finland
CQT PhD graduate (2015 – 2020), interviewed February 2021

CQT PhD graduate Francesca Tosto earned her PhD for “On-demand Atomtronic Architectures on a Superconducting Atom Chip” in the group of Rainer Dumke in 2020. She was then hired to be a quantum engineer at IQM, a quantum computing hardware startup. The company is based in Helsinki, Finland, and has about 70 employees at its headquarters. Its goal is to deliver full-stack superconducting quantum computers to research laboratories, supercomputing centres and industrial customers.
 
On a usual day, Francesca works on the calibration and benchmarking of IQM’s processors. She enjoys working closely with diverse people who have highly specialised skills. Francesca credits the training she received during her PhD for laying the foundations for her new role, even if the technology is a little different. “I learnt the methodology of working in the lab, from setting up an experiment, measuring and characterising it, to identifying and fixing issues that occur,” she says.

 

A journey into quantum finance

Davit Aghamalyan, Research Scientist, Singapore Management University, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2011 – 2015), interviewed February 2021

Over the years, Davit has worked in many different areas of quantum physics. “It’s been a big journey,” he says. Joining CQT’s PhD programme in 2011, he completed his thesis on “Atomtronics: Quantum Technology with Cold Atoms in Ring Shaped Optical Lattices” supervised by Kwek Leong Chuan. After graduating, he moved to France for a postdoctoral stint where he worked on cold atom collisions. He returned to CQT in 2017 as a Research Fellow. Then, Davit was part of a collaboration between CQT and A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing on quantum optical systems.
 
Now, Davit has moved his quantum expertise into machine learning. Davit joined Singapore Management University in July 2020 as a Research Scientist. With his supervisor, Paul Griffin, he is exploring the potential of quantum machine learning to make better predictive models for credit scoring. 

 

Adding to quantum expertise at Microsoft

Aarthi Sundaram, Postdoctoral Researcher, Microsoft, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2012 – 2017), interviewed April 2020

Aarthi Sundaram completed her PhD in computer science at CQT in 2017, supervised by Miklos Santha. Her research involved work on quantum algorithms and the mathematical complexity of problems. Now, she is a postdoctoral researcher in the Quantum Systems team at Microsoft, where her main focus is to analyse both the powers and limitations of quantum computing. “It is definitely a big bonus that I can continue working in an area I truly enjoy exploring,” Aarthi says. While the problems she is working on now may be different, the research skills and knowledge she picked up during her PhD studies influences her work to this day. Aarthi is also enjoying the opportunity to broaden her research interests and understanding. She says, “Working in a company that aims to deliver the full stack of quantum services, there is a chance to interact and learn from people with vastly different expertise.”

 

Supporting the semiconductor industry

Debashis De Munshi, Systems Engineer, KLA Tencor, United States
CQT PhD graduate (2012 – 2017), interviewed April 2020

Debashis did his PhD in the experimental laboratory of CQT’s Manas Mukherjee, building and running experiments on trapped barium ions. He then worked briefly as a postdoc in the Centre before accepting a job with KLA Tencor, a multinational company that develops inspection and metrology technologies for the semiconductor and nanoelectronics industries. He joined KLA Tencor’s Singapore facility in September 2017 as Systems Engineer (manufacturing). “The machines we build are extremely complex,” Debashis says. “My job is to troubleshoot issues during manufacturing and to suggest and perform design changes.” His leaning towards industry was apparent even earlier, as he filed a patent application and developed ideas for businesses during his PhD. Now, he relishes the chance to embrace the challenges of commercial technological developments. In 2019, he moved to the company’s San Francisco location.

 

From quantum experiments to Apple hardware

Nick Lewty, Hardware Engineer, Apple, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2009 – 2014), interviewed April 2020

CQT PhD graduate Nick is now a Hardware Engineer for Apple in Singapore, developing devices to go into the company’s products. “The CQT PhD gives graduates the skillsets they need to compete in industry at a high level,” says Nick. He was hired by Apple in 2016 after an intense interviewing process. Nick completed his PhD in one of CQT’s ion-trapping groups in 2014. He then worked at CQT as a postdoc in quantum optics, before looking for jobs in optical engineering in industry. He found the Apple position through an advert online. At CQT Nick was involved in designing, building and programming complicated setups for precision measurements. “I use a lot of what I learnt in the lab. It’s not exactly the same tools, but the lab skills,” he says. This includes doing a lot of programming for the equipment they use. Nick can’t say what he works on for Apple. What he can say is “I am really enjoying it.”

 

An easy move into data science

Paul Condylis, Head of Data Science, Tokopedia, Singapore
Former Senior Research Fellow (2010 – 2016), interviewed April 2020

Paul Condylis was a Research Fellow in experimental groups in CQT for over six years before shifting his career into the commercial world as a data scientist. He is now Head of Data Science in Singapore for the Indonesian tech company Tokopedia. Before taking this role in 2020, he worked for the Singapore-based fintech company Jewel Paymentech. As Lead Research Scientist , his role involved developing deep learning and machine learning models to understand text documents, classify images, and identify fraudulent transactions. “Moving from experimental physics into data science and AI was easy due to the skills I acquired as a researcher,” Paul says, “The grounding of a physics education gives you the ability to read and understand the current literature in AI, and then apply those techniques.”

 

 

Start-up co-founder and applied problem solver

Sambit Pal, Chief Technology Officer, mVizn, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2011 – 2016), interviewed April 2020

Sambit graduated from CQT’s PhD programme in 2017 and is now the Chief Technology Officer of mVizn, a company he co-founded. The company combines artificial intelligence with machine vision to support business processes. For example, its first major contract was with PSA Corporation (formerly Port of Singapore Authority) to deploy automated safety supervision systems on cranes and heavy machinery that move shipping containers. During his PhD, Sambit would play with business ideas in his free time and mVizn grew out of his entrepreneurial experiments. “After the first couple of years of my PhD, I knew I wanted to go into something where I could apply the knowledge I had been picking up,” says Sambit. Sambit’s PhD was in the experimental group of Kai Dieckmann on “Molecular Spectroscopy of Ultracold 6-lithuem and 40-potassium molecules: Towards STIRAP Transfer to Absolute Grand State”.

 

Developing technology for oil and gas companies

Wilson Chin Yue Sum, Physicist, Schlumberger, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2014 – 2018), interviewed April 2020

After completing his PhD in quantum optics in 2018, Wilson Chin looked for a job outside academia. Another CQT alumnus working at Schlumberger, a provider of technology to the oil and gas industry, introduced Wilson to the company. Wilson is employed as a physicist in the Singapore Well Testing Center developing a multiphase flowmeter based on Gamma spectroscopy. He enjoys the opportunity to apply physics to commercial technology. “I appreciate the company’s capability as the technology lead in its field,” Wilson says. “The PhD training as a physicist has shaped my problem solving approach and perspective, which is perhaps the key differentiator in my new role.” Wilson completed his PhD supervised by Christian Kurtsiefer on “Light-atom coupling with 4PI Microscopy”.

 

 

PhD earns more interesting work on memory chips

See Tian Feng, Senior Engineer, Micron, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2014 – 2019), interviewed 2019

CQT PhD graduate See Tian Feng was recruited by Micron in Singapore after meeting a hiring manager at a university careers fair. She joined the multinational memory and storage company in June 2019. Tian Feng completed her PhD supervised by Dimitris Angelakis on “Few-Photon Transport In Strongly Interacting Light-Matter Systems: A Scattering Approach”. These days she is involved in the manufacturing of memory chips. She analyses data from tests of NAND flash memory at intermediate production stages, checking performance before the product goes to the next step. Having a PhD is useful, she says: “People expect you to do more challenging tasks. From the onset, you are given the chance to do more interesting work because you hold the degree.”

 

Exploring space frontiers for quantum technology

Aitor Villar Zafra, Quantum Engineer, SpeQtral, Singapore
CQT PhD graduate (2015 – 2019), interviewed 2019

Originally from Spain, Aitor Villar Zafra moved to Singapore in 2014 for an internship at CQT, then joined the Centre’s PhD programme. Aitor earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in telecommunications engineering, converting his skills to quantum communication during his research project in the group of Alexander Ling. He earned his PhD for "Building Entangled Photon Pair Sources for Quantum Key Distribution with Nano-Satellites". Aitor continues this work as a Quantum Engineer for the CQT spin-off company SpeQtral. The company is developing space-based quantum networks for global delivery of secure encryption keys. Aitor chose to stay in Singapore, seeking the worklife balance the country offers: "here I can focus on my career without neglecting family plans in the future".