Two students from the School of Engineering of UMinho were distinguished with grants from the New Talents Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. These awards annually recognise the value of exceptional students in Portuguese higher education, promoting talent and stimulating their path of initiation into research.
In this year’s edition, 70 scholarships were selected in the areas of Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Humanities and Social Sciences. Two of these scholarships were awarded to students of the Master in Physics Engineering.
Irving Valencia, a 2nd year student of the Master’s degree in Physics Engineering, Information Physics branch, was one of the awarded students in the Physics area. He is developing a project entitled “Quantum Simulation of spin systems on Quantum Computers”, supervised by Joaquín Fernández-Rossier, from the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL).
The other grant in this area was awarded to Maria Gabriela Oliveira, 1st year student of the Master’s Degree in Physics Engineering, branch of Physics of Information, who presented a project entitled “Development of quantum computing algorithms for the modelling of air showers produced by cosmic rays”, under the supervision of Professor Nuno Castro, from the University of Minho.
The fellows will participate in a talent enrichment programme, with tutors and accompanied by a Scientific Committee from each of the programme’s areas. Personal development sessions in group are foreseen, to stimulate the creation of a networking and sharing environment among the grantees, which may continue even after the programme ends.
Here we share the testimonies of these students:
When did you discover your interest in your field of study?
Irving: “I think it is not possible to indicate a moment when I discovered my academic interests. Ever since I was able to develop reasoning, I have had this interest in knowledge in scientific areas, which has developed over time, with the acquisition of knowledge and support from my parents. With the years I understood that what could solve my questions was the study of physics and, since then, the search for answers has made me more interested in new technologies, for their potential use in the study of physical phenomena, for which we still have no answers. So, quantum computing is this tool that I believe will be of great use for the study and understanding of our universe.”
Maria Gabriela: ” The choice of physics goes back to childhood, to the time of the “whys”. I have always been curious and wanted to better understand the world around me, the weather, the stars, gravity. As I grew up, the questions became more complex and I became more and more immersed in this world, in exploring, in searching, in wanting to know. So, naturally, the choice of Physics, or better Physical Engineering, was a natural consequence of the desire to know and discover new things in this field that fascinates me so much.
I should add that, as I have already mentioned, I like Physics in general, but the more specific areas of interest, such as Quantum Computing and its applications, came about through closer contact with these throughout my studies.”
How did the opportunity to apply for this scholarship arise?
Irving: “I was encouraged by professor Luís Barbosa to apply, as it would be an important recognition given the importance of the foundation. And so I did.”
Maria Gabriela: “I already knew about this programme from previous editions and through social networks I heard that the applications had opened again. I went to check the regulations and realised that I fulfilled the requirements imposed. Therefore, I decided to apply. ”
How will this scholarship help your work?
Irving: “What I hope with the scholarship is to have an important guide on the path of scientific research, as it is my focus for the future. It will allow me to have new experiences that will encourage my academic path and develop new skills to open up other opportunities in the future.”
Maria Gabriela: “With this grant it is easier to reconcile studies with research and invest in training that complements academic studies. In addition to these factors, the programme also offers us a network of support and knowledge that is undoubtedly important to succeed in my area of study.”
Congratulations Irving and Maria Gabriela!