UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute


Students win top prizes at BT sponsored conference

15 October 2020

Two PhD candidates place first and second in a lightning talks competition.

Screenshots of Eleanor Crane’s winning Lightning Talk

This week two students from UCLQ and the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) beat other PhD candidates from across the UK with their Lightning Talks at the Tommy Flowers Network’s Let’s Get Physical virtual conference.

Eleanor Crane, a UCLQ, LCN and IBM PhD candidate from the EPSRC and SPI Centre for Doctoral training in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials, won with her innovative five-minute talk entitled: From two qubit gates to quantum algorithms and the steps in between. Her talk explained a proposal for using interdisciplinary methods to create a robust two quantum bit entangling gate in the solid state and presented the open-source quantum programming software Qiskit.

Competition judge Dr Kishore Sengupta from the Judge Business School at Cambridge University said that the combination of the research discussed and the innovative presentation style using props instead of slides, secured Crane’s victory.

Coming in second place, Daniel O’Connor, another UCLQ and LCN PhD candidate, discussed how quantum annealing can be applied to modern day networks problems, and how underlying physics can be exploited to improve performance on D-Wave quantum annealers.

Professor Paul Warburton, Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Delivering Quantum Technologies, representing UCL on an expert panel at the conference today, said: "UCL had a huge success, with not only two of the preselected candidates of the lightning talk competition being LCN PhD students, but them winning 1st and 2nd place!"

Cathy White, a researcher at BT and UCLQ industrial PhD supervisor said: “Supporting PhD candidates enables BT to explore cutting edge subjects and take advantage of the UK’s world leading and superb academic research ecosystem, helping the cross-fertilisation of industry problems into academia, and new emerging technologies into industry.”

The Tommy Flowers Network, launched by BT and their partners, brings the ICT industry and UK academia together to produce the research leaders of the future. This year the network’s virtual conference, Let’s Get Physical, showcased the fundamental role that physics and physicist have in shaping our digital future. The Postgraduate Lightning Talks Competition showcased seven talks capped at five minutes in duration. Entrants submitted pre-recorded talks and only 7 candidates were shortlisted to give a live performance for the final during the virtual conference.



Screenshots of Eleanor Crane’s winning Lightning Talk (Credit: E. Crane, UCL)