Jacinta May

  • Honours student
  • EQUS
  • University of Sydney
  • Road-tripping Sydney to Bendigo

What do you do?

I spend my days constructing devices that mimic patterns we see in nature.  I consider a phenomenon that occurs at very small scales (far smaller than the eye can see) and build something just as small to demonstrate that phenomenon.  Then, I get to manipulate it and see what science is revealed. 

How did you get to where you are today?

I study physics and chemistry, both of which act as extremely useful tools in my quantum computing research.  I began my research in experimental quantum computing, rather unconventionally, significantly early in my studies.  Quantum dots were the first quantum computing devices I was introduced to, and from there I have extended my breadth of research immensely.  I spent some time working with topological qubits, particularly investigating phenomena of the superconducting spin gap in one-dimensional quantum point contacts.  This led to my adoration of superconducting quantum devices and circuits, for which I am currently engaged in my most recent research project. 

What’s the best thing about your work?

The freedom to do what excites me the most.  Some days I go into work where, unbeknownst to me, my measurement or results, or even just conversations with others in the lab will lead me on paths to opportunities that I could scarcely have imagined myself embarking upon. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying science?

To be a great scientist, be prepared to fail, to get lost, to misunderstand—as long as you have the will to learn and the courage to persevere there is absolutely nothing stopping you.  So be enthusiastic, be open, be a vessel for which to absorb all you learn, and most of all, do not be afraid! 

What do you enjoy doing outside besides physics?

My ancillary passion in life is music.  I play the concert harp, my devotion to which is second only to experimental quantum computing.  I play to soothe my soul when the stresses of work become too great.  It acts as a perfect reset to prepare my mind again for the challenges of research.

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