Antia Lamas-Linares - 2019 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Research Associate, University of Texas Austin, USA;
Visiting Associate Professor, Centre for Quantum Technologies, Singapore
Country of Birth: Spain
As a kid, I was always fascinated by building things, but I was thoroughly convinced I would be a veterinarian. However, when I was 11, I started reading collections of Martin Gardner’s articles from Scientific American and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and I realized that one way or another I was going to work in physics.
I currently work at the interface of supercomputing and quantum optics. Part of my day job involves helping other scientists run software in one of the largest supercomputing clusters in the world; the other part of my job involves using optics at the single photon level to implement quantum protocols (quantum computing, quantum cryptography, etc).
In the early (and not so early!) stages of my career, I have often struggled with insecurities about my abilities. Now, managing my career and my family's needs remains a challenge.
I wish someone had told me to ask for advice more frequently, particularly professional advice. I made many suboptimal decisions that could have been better informed with some guidance from more experienced people.
All I can say is that if you like STEM, go for it! There will be hard times, but the highs in science are some of the best I have ever experienced. Also, wherever you are and whatever your career stage, find your tribe of people and lean on them to get through the low times.
My career path is a little unusual. I am an experimentalist in quantum optics who now works mostly in a supercomputing center. I am trying to bridge the wide gap between production scientific computing and current innovative research in the development of quantum computers. It is weird... and I love it!