SFU Professor of Physics, Stephanie Simmons, has been awarded the prestigious Arthur B MacDonald Fellowship, one of only six nationally awarded fellowships. The $250,000 fellowship is awarded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to early-stage academic researchers who focus on the natural sciences and engineering, to support their research as they become leaders in their fields.

It’s the latest tribute to Simmons, already a leading global expert in the development of quantum technologies. She holds the Canada Research Chair at Silicon Quantum Technologies, which was revamped (and renamed to the current title) last summer. In late spring, her outstanding research into the development of quantum technology was published in the prestigious journal temper nature.

“The entire world is now in a powerful information age — we’ve never had more abundant access to information,” says Simmons, who spoke on behalf of the winners during the October 25 ceremony. “Being a successful researcher today means coordinating and distilling information, checking the limits of what information can do for us, and reprocessing that information into new critical knowledge.”

Quantum computing offers revolutionary capabilities, performing certain key tasks faster than the world’s supercomputers. Simmons’ research focuses on the development of advanced silicon photonics, and its potential as a platform for ideal quantum processing and transmission interfaces for future quantum networks.

Her lab in SFU’s Department of Physics was the first to research high-performance silicon-based interfaces for quantum technologies. Her team has since developed an entirely new platform – silicon communication color centers – that it believes will form the bedrock of global quantum technology in the future.

Simmons has also had a voice in discussions about quantum technology strategy in Canada and in other international advisory round tables. Through her work on numerous boards and committees, she directly influences government policy and investments in her field.

Simmons joined SFU in 2015 and, along with Professor Emeritus Michael Thewalt, leads SFU’s Silicon Quantum Technology Lab, where it continues to work on producing a network of quantum computers capable of solving challenging problems beyond the capabilities of today’s supercomputers.

In addition to its lab, Simmons works collaboratively with the Quantum Algorithms Institute (QAI), which is hosted at SFU, and with the Federal Government’s Quantum Cryptography and Scientific Satellite Mission (QEYSSat) on quantum communications networks in space. She was recently appointed to the Canadian Academies Council’s Expert Committee on Quantum Technologies, and is the Head of Quantum Division at Photonic Inc.

Her work has won numerous awards, including Top Ten Breakthroughs of the Year in Physics in 2013 and 2015, and has been covered by CBC, BBC, Wired Magazine, Scientific American, The New Scientist, and the New York Times.

“Now, when information is so abundant and abundant, time is the most limited resource,” Simmons noted. “Extracting useful knowledge takes time – time to think clearly. This is the element that unites us most in the information age – we are all short on time. It is the most precious gift possible, and the gift of time well spent will allow us to rise far beyond what we have already accomplished.”

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