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Celebrating Womanhood: Dr. Shohini Ghose, CTO, Quantum Algorithms Institute & Quantum Physicist

Monica Sethi Darpan, 15 Mar, 2024
  • Celebrating Womanhood: Dr. Shohini Ghose, CTO, Quantum Algorithms Institute & Quantum Physicist

"Men need to be involved in women's empowerment - they have daughters, too, so it's good for everyone to empower each other. This involves providing women with the same opportunities that are extended to men. Especially in science, that can lead to twice as much talent and discoveries. Science needs women and women's empowerment.."-Dr.Shohini Ghose, CTO, Quantum Algorithms Institute & Quantum Physicist

Dr. Shohini Ghose emerges as a brilliant thread in quantum physics, weaving her path through the cosmos of knowledge and breaking barriers for women in science. Born in Mumbai, India, Dr. Ghose's journey from a lone woman of colour majoring in physics and mathematics at Miami University in the '90s to becoming a professor of quantum physics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo is a testament to her resilience and passion for unravelling the universe's secrets.

As an undergraduate student, Dr. Ghose confronted a lonely journey. The stark absence of fellow women, especially women of colour, in her classes made her feel invisible to those around her. However, her profound curiosity and love for solving the mysteries of the universe became the guiding light that kept her on her unique trajectory in quantum physics.

Today, Dr. Ghose stands at the forefront of quantum research, holding the position of Chief Technology Officer at the Quantum Algorithms Institute, a British Columbia-funded institution, which aims to bridge the gap between theoretical quantum computing concepts and real-world applications, commercializing ground-breaking ideas to shape the future of technology.

Beyond her achievements in research and academia, Dr. Ghose has become an inspiration for women in science. In 2013, she established the Center for Women in Science (WinS) at Wilfrid Laurier University. WinS addresses the systemic barriers and biases against women in STEM fields, fostering a more inclusive environment and creating pathways for women's careers in science.

Dr. Ghose's commitment to changing the narrative extends to her involvement in a national program focused on women in science. Holding a federally funded chair for women and science, she utilizes her position to build multiple initiatives and advocate for resources, funding, and promotions for women in STEM.

Championing diversity and equality, Dr. Ghose challenges the prevalent stereotypes in science. She emphasizes the need to fix the system rather than expecting women to conform to biased environments. Reflecting on her journey, Dr. Ghose shares powerful insights: "Often you might feel isolated or that you don't belong, have imposter syndrome—but embrace it—if you're alone, it means you're different, have a different perspective, so enjoy being your unique self and every bit of the journey."

Dr. Ghose envisions a field where women represent 50% of participants. With her relentless pursuit of fundamental questions about the universe and ongoing projects like building a quantum internet in Canada, she continues to inspire a new generation to embrace the wonders of science.

What does being a woman mean to you?

I think of myself as a human being. In my journey, being a woman has always been like being pigeonholed—as a woman, you don't belong in physics, etc., but as humans, we have a connection to the universe. To me, we must see each other as human beings.

What's your favourite quote?

"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." - Albert Einstein.

How do you interpret Women's empowerment?

Men need to be involved in women's empowerment - they have daughters, too, so it's good for everyone to empower each other. This involves providing women with the same opportunities that are extended to men. Especially in science, that can lead to twice as much talent and discoveries. Science needs women and women's empowerment. 

What's your advice to women seeking careers traditionally dominated by men?

You might feel isolated or feel like you don't belong there, perhaps grapple with imposter syndrome, but embrace it. If you're alone, you're different, have a different perspective, and are gatecrashing, so enjoy yourself. Whatever your situation is, enjoy it to the maximum and contribute.

Who are your role models?

I would say Serena Williams. She is a true trailblazer, making the trail, walking it, and showing it to the world who tried to take her down. The second would be Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut to go into space. That was so powerful because up until then, one couldn't imagine an Indian going to space. Also, I really admire Urvashi Sinha, who is leading the Indian quantum internet program. 

Photo: Fahad Photo

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