Dr Araceli Venegas-Gomez was inspired to become a quantum physics researcher after working in industry, and is now looking to inspire others.
Dr Araceli Venegas-Gomez spent several years working for Airbus in Germany as an aerospace engineer, before falling in love with quantum mechanics. She decided to follow her passion and moved to Scotland to pursue a PhD in quantum physics at the University of Strathclyde.
Following discussions with different quantum stakeholders over the last few years, Venegas-Gomez identified the need to bridge the gap between businesses and academia, and raise awareness of quantum research among the general public.
She was awarded an Optical Society fellowship engaged in international outreach in order to become a ‘global ambassador’ advocating quantum technologies. To create a link between the different stakeholders in the quantum community and generate global opportunities with quantum technologies, she founded her own company called Qureca.
Qureca offers professional services, business development and an online platform for training and recruitment within quantum technologies. It is part of the EU Quantum Flagship programme, which was launched in 2018 to kick-start a competitive European industry in quantum technologies.
‘I hope I can support in the development of the skills necessary for the future quantum workforce’
– ARACELI VENEGAS-GOMEZ
What inspired you to become a researcher?
While working in industry I always wanted to learn more about physics, so I enrolled in a distance-learning medical physics postgraduate programme. When I was learning more about magnetic resonance imaging, I started to research articles about quantum physics and became really interested in the topic.
I then did some online courses and took annual leave from my work to attend conferences. It was clear to me that I wanted to go in that direction.
It was not until I bought a book called ‘Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow’ that I asked myself what I wanted to do with my life, and I knew my next goal in life was to do a PhD in quantum physics.
Can you tell us about the research you worked on?
My PhD was in quantum simulation in Prof Andrew Daley’s group, Quantum Optics and Many-body Physics.
I worked on dynamics in many-body quantum systems with different ranges of interactions, where we investigated quantum magnetism with spin models.
In your opinion, why is your research important?
It helps understand fundamental questions in the study of out-of-equilibrium dynamics of many-body systems.
What commercial applications do you foresee for your research?
These theoretical studies can be directly applied in cold-atom experiments and could open up new ways to engineer magnetism at the quantum level for new systems and future materials.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a researcher in your field?
Coming from a different background, it was always hard to feel fully integrated, and still now I consider I have to learn a lot to be able to feel confident in any scientific conversation.
Are there any common misconceptions about this area of research?
It is important to understand that science and research is a marathon and not a sprint. This can be applied to any area of research.
What are some of the areas of research you’d like to see tackled in the years ahead?
With my company, I hope I can support in the development of the skills necessary for the future quantum workforce.
Who is your unsung hero of science and why?
I had the pleasure to meet William D Phillips [winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997] several times, and his approach to students, the way he participates in any event with such an eagerness to learn and how much he enjoys teaching difficult concepts in physics to the general public is admirable.
Are you a researcher with an interesting project to share? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Science Uncovered’.