Slovak Academy of Sciences

21 February 2019

Over the summer of 2017, Daniel Buc joined the Research Center for Quantum Information at the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

Daniel Buc, Theoretical Physics

As the exam period was getting closer, I was trying to find out what to do with my summer. I decided that it would be a good idea to look for an experience connected with my course. After a couple of weeks of sending e-mails to various universities and research institutions, I received several positive replies, with researchers inviting me for an interview. It took some time to come to a final decision, but I decided in early June that I would accept a position in the Research Center for Quantum Information at the Slovak Academy of Sciences. 

During my stay, I had the chance to regularly attend seminars and lectures given by visiting researchers invited from institutions such as University of Sydney and University of Lisbon. These were an interesting part of my stay as I had the opportunity to interact with a broader spectrum of the scientific community. The seminars were mostly based in the quantum information field, but some talks were given on other topics, for example machine learning. 

My task was mostly educational. I was given materials and introduction into quantum physics, where my supervisor explained to me mainly the Dirac notation, rotational matrices and briefly also quantum spin dynamics which was the main topic of a problem I had to solve in later stages of my stay.

Overall, my colleagues were very approachable and eager help especially when I got stuck with the problem I was trying to solve (which was quite often) and they were more than happy to try and explain their current research to me. We went for lunch together almost every day which was a great opportunity to talk and share ideas or just get to know their work and them as people in general. I shared an office with two other students, one currently studying at University of Oxford and other at Comenius University Bratislava. 

The Center was in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. Even though I have visited Bratislava before, this was the first time I had a chance to stay in the city for an extended period and I enjoyed the experience. I visited the main historical sites such as the Bratislava Castle, from which you could see a great view of the city especially at night, or the National Theatre which is based in a lovely historical building. The old city centre was wonderful and I enjoyed my stay in Bratislava very much. 

To sum it up, I am happy I had the chance to work in an area connected with my course and with amazing group of people. It was an opportunity to make my summer something more than just a break from school. It was a valuable experience and I would recommend it to anybody. To get an interesting opportunity within your area of study may seem hard, but sometimes it is just an e-mail away. At first, I did not expect to get any positive response from the people I contacted, but in the end, I had a chance to choose from more options. Therefore, my advice for anyone looking for a summer opportunity would be - don't be afraid and start looking!