Janet Zhong from Australia is an undergraduate student at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Her honours thesis is on quantum/ nonlinear topological photonics. She will be studying two-photon edge states in a qubit array. The overarching goal of this field is the creation of topological quantum qubits. Janet discussed the importance of science communication with Nobel Laureate William D. Phillips, you can find the video on Youtube.
In her Women in Research interview on our blog, she talks about her career path, her favorite projects, topological photonics and more:
How did you get to where you are in your career path?
My parents are first generation immigrants to Australia. They sacrifice a lot and work every day in their small business so that my brother and I have opportunities that they never had. They never put a lot of pressure on me which meant that I felt like I could pursue anything. Going to Olympiads was the kick-starter to my physics journey but attending the Australian National University for my undergraduate is what allowed my physics to flourish. At ANU, there is a lot of flexibility in course choices and the chance to do independent research early on which I really enjoy. I also bulk apply for random things (and get rejected often too!) I was inspired to pursue topological photonics partly from a project at ANU and also because of an internship I did at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
I am not a perfect student. I can sometimes be a bit hit and miss but I when I am interested in something, I can get very deep into it. I have been motivated by various things over the years. I was once motivated by a fear of failure after not doing well one semester. I found that I have a strong drive I can tap into when I need it, but it wasn’t a very fun way to do physics. I’ve been a lot more conscious about being motivated by fun and I’m actually doing better and am happier with this approach. My current research topic is very new and novel so it is hard not to be swept away by it. The physics feels bigger than me (in a good way) and I’m happily running just trying to catch and understand it. I think I’ve been very lucky. I’ve worked very hard but I have also lived a privileged life.