Aerial shot of groups of people interacting in an atrium

Career Trajectories Virtual Speed Networking

On March 25, 2021, Perimeter Institute hosted a virtual speed networking event intended to connect young researchers with physicists working in the private sector. The event was open to current Perimeter PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and PSI students and focused on Quantum Technologies and Machine Learning with mentors from the following companies: Google (Alphabet), Isara, 1Qbit, Validere, Invenia, Xanadu, ForeQast Technologies, Zapata Computing, Spotify, National Research Council of Canada, and the Government of Canada. Please see below for more information on the keynote speaker, mentors, and biographies.


Event Schedule

  • 10:30-11:00 am: Morning Keynote - Stefan Leichenauer, Alphabet
  • ​​11:00-12:00 pm: Speed Networking (Morning Session)
  • 12:00-12:30 pm: Lunch and Chat Session with Mentors (Optional)
  • 12:30-1:00 pm: Afternoon Keynote - Stefan Leichenauer, Alphabet
  • 1:00-2:00 pm: Speed Networking (Afternoon Session)


Keynote Speaker

Stefan Leichenauer, Google (Alphabet)

Stefan Leichenauer received his PhD in high energy theoretical physics from UC Berkeley, and was a postdoc at Caltech and UC Berkeley. His research focused mostly on AdS/CFT and the link between quantum field theory and quantum information. After leaving academia he entered the quantum industry, and is currently the lead research scientist on the [email protected] team working at the nexus of physics and artificial intelligence. [email protected] has projects across quantum-inspired computing, quantum sensing, and post-quantum cryptography, with the goal of addressing the grand challenges facing the world today.


Mentor Profiles

​Aida Ahmadzadegan, ForeQast

Aida Ahmadzadegan is a postdoctoral researcher at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and recipient of NSERC postdoctoral fellowship in 2021. She is also the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at ForeQast Technologies. Prior to that Aida was a Founder-in-Residence at the Entrepreneur First tech accelerator program and a postdoctoral fellow at the Applied Mathematics department of the University of Waterloo working on several topics including Deep Learning, Relativistic Quantum Information (RQI), and Synthetic biology. In 2017, she received her Cotutelle Ph.D. degree from the University of Waterloo and Macquarie University in Australia.

At ForeQast we apply quantum and advanced computing to solve the world’s toughest challenges. We are dedicated to building digital twins of real-world systems that allow you to continually benefit from advances in both quantum and classical hardware. Our top priority at ForeQast is to build an optimized control solution on near-term quantum computers for wind farms to improve production, operation, and optimize load distribution.

Razieh Annabestani, Government of Canada

My name is Razieh Annabestani and I am a quantum scientist. I obtained my PhD in physics from the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo back in 2016. Since then, I acquired 3 years' work experience in the quantum industry and have worked for both the public and private sectors. I have been in the field of quantum information since 2007 when I started my master's degree. Since then, my research has covered a wide range including quantum computing, quantum metrology, quantum control and quantum communication. My professional career started in 2017 with a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Waterloo with a project focused on nano-scale imaging. In 2018, I joined Xanadu Quantum Technologies in Toronto where I worked as a quantum application scientist to develop business use cases for Xanadu’s photonic device.  In 2019, I took a year off to take care of my daughters. I returned to work in 2020 where, in the first half of the year, I worked for Transformative Quantum Technologies (TQT) to develop quantum applications in sensing and imaging. In the second half of the year, I worked for Anyon Systems Inc. with a research focused on superconducting based quantum computers. With this background, I have deep knowledge and experience in the area of quantum control and quantum computing in general and shallow experience in photonic and superconducting quantum hardware. I have also explored quantum applications in finance, sensing, imaging and pharmaceutical industries. A week ago, I started working for the Government of Canada as quantum strategy advisor. In this role, I provide scientific and strategic support for investment and policy decisions that will be made for the quantum technology industry.

Guifré Vidal, Alphabet

Guifré Vidal a quantum physicist by training (PhD from Univ. of Barcelona, 1999), with 20 years of research experience in academia, including postdocs at Univ. Innsbruck and Caltech, and faculty positions at the Univ. of Queensland in Australia (2005–2011) and Perimeter Institute (2011–2019). Since September 2019 I work at Alphabet Inc (Google's parent company). Throughout my career I contributed to the development of tensor network algorithms for classically simulating quantum many-body systems. Currently I am connecting tensor networks with Google's Tensor Processing Units (TPUs), supercomputers originally designed for machine learning but that can be repurposed for more general supercomputing tasks. 

[email protected] is an emerging team within Alphabet, devoted to leveraging artificial intelligence and physics to develop solutions for enterprises to address large challenges for positive impact.

Alphabet is an American multinational conglomerate headquartered in Mountain View, California. It includes Google, Verily (life sciences), Waymo (self-driving cars), X (moonshots) and others.

Ian Burgess, Validere

Ian Burgess is a co-founder of Validere and serves as President and Chief Technology Officer. Validere is a data intelligence platform that is transforming the energy industry by making critical product quality data available, accessible, and actionable. Ian is the technical and innovation lead at Validere and has become one of the foremost industry experts, driving innovations through analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Over 50 of North America’s leading energy companies rely on Validere’s insights to enhance operational and trading margins and reduce waste and emissions. Ian sits on the board of directors of NEXT Canada — non-profit that provides education, mentorship and funding to entrepreneurs, and was a Senior Venture Partner at Pioneer Fund, a leading seed-stage VC funded and run by Y Combinator alumni to help the next generation of start-ups get off the ground. Ian completed his BSc in mathematical physics from Waterloo in 2008 and PhD in applied physics at Harvard in 2012.

Ciaran Gilligan-Lee, Spotify

Dr. Ciarán Gilligan-Lee is a Senior Researcher at Spotify and an Honorary Associate Professor at University College London, where he works on causal inference and quantum computing. Previously he was a Senior Researcher at Babylon Health, where he built & led the causal inference team. His work has been presented at some of the top AI conferences, such as AAAI and NeurIPS, and has been covered by popular media outlets such as MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, The Times, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Sun, Newsweek, and Gizmodo. Before joining industry, he was Principal Investigator of an EPSRC grant at University College London on causal inference and its applications in quantum computing. He holds a DPhil (PhD) from the University of Oxford Department of Computer Science.

Florian Hopfmueller, 1QBit

Florian Hopfmueller completed his PhD at PI earlier this year, working on theoretical general relativity. Since December 2019, he has been working at the quantum computing company 1QBit - first as a Mitacs intern in Vancouver, and now as a full-time scientist in Waterloo. His research is focused on getting the most out of near-term quantum devices. His day-to-day work includes much coding and numerical experiments involving simulating quantum systems, optimization, and machine learning; as well as reading papers, writing reports, papers, etc., and project discussions.

Phil Kaye, National Research Council Canada

Dr. Phil Kaye graduated in the first PhD cohort from Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing in 2007. From 2004 to 2018 he served in a variety of roles with the Government of Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, primarily as a trusted advisor on the impacts of quantum technologies. From 2004 to 2010, he was the Program Reporter for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Quantum Information Processing Program. In 2007, Phil co-authored a seminal textbook on quantum algorithms (“An Introduction to Quantum Computing”, Kaye, Laflamme, Mosca, 2007).  From 2018 to 2020, he worked for D-Wave Systems as Program Director, Corporate Affairs. In 2019 he co-founded and chaired Quantum Industry Canada (QIC), a consortium representing over 24 Canadian quantum technology companies. Presently, Phil is serving as the Deputy Program Director for the National Research Council’s Quantum Sensors Challenge Program, as well as the lead for NRC’s Applied Quantum Computing Initiative. 

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is Canada's largest federal research and development organization. The NRC partners with Canadian industry to take research impacts from the lab to the marketplace, where people can experience the benefits. This market-driven focus delivers innovation faster, enhances people's lives and addresses some of the world's most pressing problems. We are responsive, creative and uniquely placed to partner with Canadian industry, to invest in strategic R&D programming that will address critical issues for our future.

Bohdan Kulchytskyy, 1QBit

Bohdan Kulchytskyy is a Senior Scientist at 1QBit. He completed his PhD at the University of Waterloo under the supervision of Roger Melko. His PhD focussed on developing quantum Monte Carlo techniques with the goal of studying quantum phase transitions from the lens of entanglement entropy. His PhD aligned with the rise of commercial quantum technologies as well as the application of machine learning techniques to his field. He was fortunate to learn about those technologies first-hand from internships at the quantum computing companies DWave and 1QBit. The latter eventually led to his current role at 1QBit as a scientist working on applying machine learning techniques to controlling and developing emerging quantum hardware.

Martin Laforest, ISARA Corporation

Dr. Martin Laforest is part of the product management team at ISARA Corporation, a Waterloo-based cybersecurity company specialising in crypto-agile and quantum-safe security solutions. Martin has developed a career communicating the complexity and strategic impacts of quantum technologies to key stakeholders, including government, the media, the general public and industry partners. At ISARA, Dr. Laforest helps customers rethink their approach to cybersecurity to face the unprecedented and growing quantum computing threat. Prior to joining ISARA, Martin was the head of scientific outreach at the University of Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing. He created a variety of educational and informational programs that positioned IQC as a leading source of information and insights about quantum technologies. 

Olivia Di Matteo, Xanadu

Olivia Di Matteo received her PhD in Physics (Quantum Information) at the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo in 2019. She was a Quantum Information Science Associate at TRIUMF, Canada's particle accelerator centre, from 2019-2020. She currently works at Xanadu as a Quantum Computing Educator and Researcher. She is interested in quantum circuits and compilation, quantum machine learning algorithms and applications, teaching people about quantum computing, and developing open-source software.

At Xanadu, our mission is to build quantum computers that are useful and available to people everywhere. Xanadu is a Series-A start-up company based in Toronto. We are proud to have grown into one of Canada’s largest quantum technology companies developing and deploying quantum computing hardware and software tools and services. By using photonic technology, our systems operate primarily at room temperature and can more easily integrate into existing telecommunication infrastructure. Xanadu has over 70 staff, more than 40 PhDs, and three R&D teams working on hardware, software, and theory and architecture. To learn more about Xanadu, please visit our website at

Luis Serrano, Zapata Computing

Luis Serrano is a Quantum Application Scientist at Zapata Computing, focused in quantum artificial intelligence. He is the author of the book Grokking Machine Learning and maintains a popular YouTube channel where he explains machine learning in pedestrian terms. Luis has previously worked in machine learning at Apple and Google, and at Udacity as the head of content for AI and data science. He has a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan, a master’s and bachelors from the University of Waterloo, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher in mathematics at the University of Quebec at Montreal.

Zapata Computing, Inc. builds quantum-ready applications™ for enterprise deployment through our flagship product Orquestra® – the only workflow-based toolset for enterprise quantum computing. Zapata has pioneered a new quantum-classical development and deployment paradigm that focuses on a range of use cases, including ML, optimization and simulation. Orquestra integrates best-in-class classical and quantum technologies including Zapata's leading-edge algorithms, open-source libraries in Python and Julia, and more. Zapata partners closely with hardware providers across the quantum ecosystem such as Amazon, Google, Honeywell, IBM, IonQ, Microsoft and Rigetti. Investors include BASF Venture Capital, Honeywell Ventures, Itochu Corporation and Merck Global Health. Enterprise customers include Merck, BP, BBVA, KAUST and Coca Cola Bottlers Japan Inc., among others.  For more information visit and

Artur Scherer, 1QBit

Artur Scherer is a theoretical physicist with a research focus on quantum information science and technologies. He graduated with a physics degree from the University of Konstanz in Germany and received his PhD degree in theoretical quantum physics from the University of London in the UK. Presently, he is a lead of a team of researchers at the Hardware Innovation Lab of the quantum computing software company 1Qbit and also takes part in its partnership engagements within the “Quantum Intelligence Lab” research centre at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Before joining 1QBit, Artur had worked in Germany, Canada, the United States of America, and Australia, having held postdoctoral research positions at the Universities of Konstanz, Calgary, and the Macquarie University in Sydney, as well as a senior scientist position at a telecommunications and information research and engineering company called ‘Applied Communication Sciences’, previously the R&D division of ‘Telcordia Technologies’ (whose origins are in Bell Labs), in New Jersey. Artur’s main research experience and activities are in the fields of quantum optics, quantum chaos, long-distance quantum communications, and quantum computing including quantum algorithms and their potential applications to complex real-world problems as well as analyzing the resources required to run them on actual quantum hardware devices. Artur is optimistic that large-scale quantum computing and communication will become viable technologies in the near future. 

Cozmin Ududec, Invenia Labs

Cozmin Ududec did his PhD at Perimeter between 2006 and 2012 with a focus on Quantum Foundations and a sprinkle of Quantum Information. After this he joined Invenia, which is a startup that uses machine learning to optimize electricity grids and improve economic and environmental efficiency. Since 2015 Cozmin has been Chief Science Officer and lead of the research team of Invenia (Invenia Labs), in Cambridge, UK.