Fernando Gago Encinas Interview
Fernando Gago Encinas
Freie Universität Berlin,
Theoretical Physics, Quantum Dynamics and Control Group
1. What is your field of research?
I am a PhD student in theoretical quantum physics. I explore different models for quantum systems through analytical studies and numerical simulations. In other words, I use my computer, a dry-erase marker and a trusty whiteboard to make sense of the very counter-intuitive field of quantum physics.
2. Why are you participating in "Berlin is looking for the Sciencefluencer 2024"?
I have always been interested in sharing my love for science and highlighting the importance of the work that we do as researchers. This initiative of the Berlin University Alliance seemed like a great training programme to develop new skills and to get in touch with other scientists from many different backgrounds who are also interested in communication.
3. What challenges do you face when you become a science influencer?
It is a bleak feeling to have a message to get across and not hear any response. Sometimes you are shouting to the public and you never know if your words are getting through. But in the end, I always manage to create a connection; maybe to make a small audience care, or even to inspire someone. These moments make all the effort worthwhile.
4. What are your most important findings in your particular field of research?
Together with my collaborators, I have developed two different controllability tests that can be used to efficiently determine whether a set of qubits (or quantum bits) is suitable to perform universal quantum computing. That is, to check whether said qubit array has enough capability to perform all the different operations that a quantum computer should be able to carry out. This is important because building universal quantum computers with fewer resources is one of the current goals in the quantum technology landscape.
5. What are your goals for the future?
After I obtain my PhD, I would like to pursue a career in science communication. Designing and actively participating in outreach events is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my professional life. It just makes sense that the public should understand why science and technology are necessary and why researchers do what they do. If society does not trust or even care about science, we will start to lose the battle against disinformation.
6. Do you have a funny anecdote from the life of a researcher you can share? (optional)
I remember having a strange "eureka" moment a few months ago. It was the middle of the night, I could not sleep and I had a question in the back of my mind. I had a hunch about the answer, but I had not been able to prove it so far. Suddenly something clicked in my brain and I started solving some minor equations in my head. I rushed to write it all down on my phone and immediately fell asleep. Luckily, when I woke up the next morning, all the equations and arguments still seemed correct and I was able to quickly complete the proof that I desperately wanted. Mathematics and lack of sleep do not often go well together, but you never know where inspiration might strike.