A Quantum Leap

This is part of series of posts by recipients of the 2019 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by A.J. Geers, SEAS ’20

This summer I had the opportunity to conduct research in the Singh Center for Nanotechnology at Penn. Specifically, I was a researcher in FengLab, the Material Science and Electrical Engineering Lab headed by Dr. Liang Feng. I was given the chance to collaborate with a group of PhD students and two other undergraduates on an optics project. The research was focused on on-chip photonic circuits to guide, sort, and direct twisted light. During this research I gained incredible experience studying the state-of-the-art topic of on-chip wave guides for to harness the possibilities of quantum light. Being able to use the quantum properties of light is important because of its capability to increase the amount of information transmitted in a signal as well as increase security. Skills I expanded during this experience include in-depth review of the latest literature to gain an understanding of the direction of the field as well as the ability to develop procedures for experiments. These are skills that will help me for the rest of my life as I will pursue a PhD with the intent of staying in education to become a professor.

A big thing that I learned was the amount of work it takes to keep on top of the latest research in a fast moving field. A lot of time was spent on the reading of papers being released through different journals to see their results. Another way I experienced interacting with researchers was through presentations that visiting academics would give. These presentations typically showed the most recent results of the speaker, which was typically not published yet. I learned that as a researcher you don’t want to waste time and money on research that is not bringing anything new to the field so it is very important to know exactly what other researchers are doing. It helped me to appreciate the work being done by professors alongside their teaching during the semester. Though it is a lot of work, this experience helped to solidify my interest in research and pursuing a PhD. Being able to focus full time on research, interacting with PhD students, and getting to guide the direction of the research was very eye opening to what my future will hold. Additionally, I gained experience in communicating with the scientific community. This came in the form of discussing my ideas with my peers as well as reading and writing scientific papers.

Thanks to the funding from the Career Services Summer Funding I was able to gain experience and propel me towards my goal to become a professor. I will be able to build on the skills gained for the rest of my life, both the knowledge on the topic of quantum photonics as well as the communication and teamwork skills that came from working alongside the other members of the lab.

By Career Services
Career Services