A University of Queensland researcher has won a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award for her work on quantum alphabets. 

The $25,000 fellowship will support Dr Jacqui Romero’s research, which aims to create a unique quantum encoding system using light shapes as letters in a quantum alphabet.

Dr Romero said that normally, if you don’t know the letters of a word, you don’t know the word.

“In quantum mechanics, you know every letter, but still have no idea what word they make up,” she said.

“This is hard to believe, so I plan to demonstrate it using photon beam shapes.”

Dr Romero said there was still much to discover about how information worked in the quantum world.

Research in quantum physics and engineering is expected to influence a range of areas, including sensing, communications, imaging, and computation,” she said.

Dr Romero is one of five researchers from Australia and New Zealand named as a 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow

The program showcases outstanding women in science.

Dr Romero said it was possible to combine a  productive research career with raising three young children.

“I do not feel less of a physicist because I am a mother, nor less of a mother because I am a physicist,” she said.

“The two are not mutually exclusive.”

The L’Oréal-UNESCO program also helps motivate girls in high school to pursue science careers, through the Girls in Science program and mentorship scheme.

Contact: Dr Jacqui Romero, m.romero@uq.edu.au; Tara Roberson, t.roberson@uq.edu.au, +61 404 516 635.