Dr Jacqui Romero is an experimental quantum physicist at the University of Queensland. She’s an expert in encoding information in photons – the particles that make up light.
Dr Romero is interested in using the shape of light and combining it with the rules of quantum physics for use in secure communications.
Her impact as a leader in her field was recognised earlier this year, when along with global health researcher Dr Meru Sheel, she was awarded the Westpac Research Fellowship. The fellowship is prestigious and supports her salary and research costs.
Dr Romero sees the fellowship as an opportunity to expand her network both inside and outside of academia and have a broader conversation outside physics.
“Information security, probably more than ever, is at the forefront of our awareness. I see the fellowship as an opportunity to have a broader conversation outside physics. Any new technology has different facets, I’d like to see as many as I can,” Dr Romero told Women’s Agenda recently.
Below, Dr Romero tells Women’s Agenda about her current research and why STEM needs diversity.
Have you always known that you wanted to study science and have a career in the field?
Yes, I have dreamt of being a physicist since I was 15 years old. I enjoyed physics a lot in high school.
Can you tell us a little about the research you are currently working on?
I am an experimental quantum physicist, interested in encoding information in photons—the particles that make up light. In particular, I am interested in using the shape of light and combining that with the rules of quantum physics for use in secure communications.
Congratulations on winning the Westpac Research Fellowship earlier this year. What opportunities does the fellowship afford and how are you planning to use it?
Thank you! The Westpac Fellowship is a unique fellowship because aside from supporting my salary and research costs, it puts me in touch with a network of people inside and outside of academia, who are driven to tackle the complex issues that our society is faced with today. Information security, probably more than ever, is at the forefront of our awareness. I see the fellowship as an opportunity to have a broader conversation outside physics. Any new technology has different facets, I’d like to see as many as I can
Why is it essential for the playing field in STEMM to be more equal and gender diverse? What benefits can a diverse workplace bring to the table?
Diversity leads to productivity, I really think it is as simple as that. On a personal level, I think that we need diversity so that younger people have role models that they can look up to, or at least signal to them that it is possible to succeed in STEMM even if they are not from a dominant group.
What words of advice would you give other women who are thinking of stepping into a career in STEM?
Do it as best as you can, let nothing stop you, and have fun!
2020 applications for the Westpac Research Fellowship are open now until 26 August, 2019.