“SheQuantum’s Exclusive” Interview with Dr Jeremy Levy, Director, Pittsburgh Quantum Institute (PQI) and Professor of Physics & Astronomy @ University of Pittsburgh

Professor Dr Jeremy Levy

Question from Nithyasri @SheQuantum: Dr Levy, please share with us about Pittsburgh Quantum Institute and briefly about the current research going on at PQI?

Answer from Dr Levy, Director @Pittsburgh Quantum Institute: The Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, or PQI, unites more than one hundred faculty members who share interest and research in related fields of quantum science and engineering. Our faculty are members of departments in physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, and philosophy, from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duquesne University. We also have more than 300 graduate student members. The research that our members do span a variety of areas from development of quantum computers, understanding quantum materials, developing novel quantum algorithms, and inventing quantum limited optical sensors.

“The mission of PQI is “to help unify and promote quantum science and engineering in Pittsburgh, which we have been doing since 2012”

The mission of PQI is “to help unify and promote quantum science and engineering in Pittsburgh”, which we have been doing since 2012.  We have an annual event each year (PQI20XX which has a public lecture, a number of invited plenary lectures, panel discussions, and a poster session.  This year John Preskill will be giving the public lecture for PQI2021.

Question from Nithyasri @SheQuantum: What specific research work is carried out at LevyLab in University of Pittsburgh, under your leadership and what’s its influence on quantum computing?

Answer from Dr Levy, Director @Pittsburgh Quantum Institute: I have been involved in the development of solid-state quantum computing architectures since 1999, with an initial focus on spin-based qubits in silicon.  More recently, I have become quite interested in developing a platform for quantum simulation.  We have published several papers in the last year that demonstrate this platform in one spatial dimension, and we are developing an extension that will allow us to perform quantum simulation in two dimensions. 

“I have been involved in the development of solid-state quantum computing architectures since 1999, with an initial focus on spin-based qubits in silicon”

The latter class of problems contains important Hamiltonian systems, including those believed to give rise to high-temperature superconductivity, but also topological superconducting phases and quantum spin liquids.

Question from Nithyasri @SheQuantum: Why do we need multidisciplinary research in quantum computing?

Answer from Dr Levy, Director @Pittsburgh Quantum Institute: Quantum science and engineering is a complex subject that requires state-of-the-art results from a number of disciplines.  As such, training in a single discipline is unlikely to be sufficient for meeting the immense challenges of quantum computing and related subjects.  Some would say that this is a “transdisciplinary” field, one which is necessarily different from all others from which is emerged.  I’m not sure we are there yet, but I do think we are headed in that direction. 

“Learning to explain one’s research to non-experts is really important for doing research, not just for communicating with the public or teaching”

Learning to explain one’s research to non-experts is really important for doing research, not just for communicating with the public or teaching.

Question from Nithyasri @SheQuantum: What is your take on the number of women in the field of quantum computing? Are there enough women in quantum computing?

Answer from Dr Levy, Director @Pittsburgh Quantum Institute: The number is far too low.  We should strive for parity, with no meaningful differences in the numbers.  I refer you to a recent article in Scientific American by Dr. Chandralekha Singh, who argues that we are in a unique time in the course of the Second Quantum Revolution. 

“We need women to join the revolution and be in the vanguard, so that ten or twenty or fifty years from now, when people think about the pioneering advances and discoveries made in this field, they will think of men AND women who have shared in the glory’

We need women to join the revolution and be in the vanguard, so that ten or twenty or fifty years from now, when people think about the pioneering advances and discoveries made in this field, they will think of men AND women who have shared in the glory. 

Question from Nithyasri @SheQuantum: According to you, what are the prerequisite disciplines/subjects that are crucial for starting out on the quantum computing learning journey, at the high school and undergraduate level?

Answer from Dr Levy, Director @Pittsburgh Quantum Institute: I think there are many paths one can take and end up working in the field of quantum computing.  Computer science, physics, chemistry, engineering, these are all disciplines that feed into cutting-edge research in this field. 

“Computer science, physics, chemistry, engineering, these are all disciplines that feed into cutting-edge research in this field of quantum computing”

There are wonderful resources for learning about quantum computing, especially the ones developed by IBM.

Question from Nithyasri @SheQuantum: What’s your one advice for young girls who aspire to pursue the field of quantum computing?

Answer from Dr Levy, Director @Pittsburgh Quantum Institute: Go for it.  There are so many opportunities.

“Go for it.  There are so many opportunities”

It’s so great that SheQuantum is focusing on this important issue (Connecting women to quantum computing)! I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

It’s so great that SheQuantum is focusing on this important issue (Connecting women to quantum computing)! I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

About Dr Jeremy Levy: Dr. Jeremy Levy is the Director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute and a Distinguished Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Pittsburgh. He graduated in physics from the Harvard University in 1988 and earned his PhD in physics at UCSB. He joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 1996, and has been active in the field of quantum computing since 1999.  Levy has 25+ years of rich experience in academia.

About Nithyasri Srivathsan: Nithyasri, Founder & CEO, SheQuantum is an aspiring Quantum Computing Scientist and the author of “Quantum Computing An [Unconventional Beginners’] Book” which was honored by BookAuthority with the “1 of the 6 Best Quantum Computing eBooks for Beginners” International Award 2020. Nithyasri deeply enjoys using her voice through SheQuantum to impact, inspire and quantum educate women. She is keen on influencing women across the globe to pursue the field of Quantum Computing and has a proven success record in this. A strong advocate of the interdisciplinary nature of the sciences, Nithyasri’s passionate about making women perceive Quantum Computing through the lenses of Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and every other natural science that there is. Nithyasri aims to conduct cutting-edge research in Quantum Computing, Programming Languages, and Quantum Algorithms and is very keen on being a part of the quantum academia, in order to teach quantum in the simplest way yet without the loss of mathematical rigorousness. Always up to making a meaningful contribution to Quantum Computing in every way possible!

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