Women of Quantum Technology: Sahar Ben Rached of QTunisia and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
For Sahar Ben Rached, a Ph.D. candidate in quantum computing and the co-founder of the network QTunisia, the quantum industry perfectly combines physics and entrepreneurship. “It is a field at the intersection of my scientific interests: physics, math, and computer science,” Ben Rached explained. As a Ph.D. candidate, Ben Rached is on the front lines of learning and developing this technology. As the co-founder of QTunisia, she hopes to impart her knowledge to a growing community of curious minds.
Like many within the industry, Ben Rached did not start her career with the goal of ending up in quantum computing. “It was by complete coincidence,” she said. “My Quantum Mechanics professor, Prof. Mourad Telmini, recommended me to participate in the 2019 Africa IBM Qiskit hackathon in Johannesburg, and I went for it even though I had just started my master’s program and my knowledge of Quantum Computing was basic. I didn’t do much in that hackathon, but still, it was the best opportunity to discover a new field and ignite my interest.” After the hackathon, Ben Rached found herself hooked on learning more about quantum computing. She enjoyed the growing community of hackathoners and thinkers and wanted to cultivate a version of this on a local level. “I started QTunisia, the first QC community in Tunisia in 2020,” she added. QTunisia is part of the larger non-profit organization QWorld, which works to bring quantum computing experts and enthusiasts together. QTunisia specifically aims to raise “awareness about the potential of quantum technologies and teach Quantum Computing to anyone interested to learn,” according to their website. With workshops and webinars, QTunisia offers many resources for individuals to feed their interests.
To feed her own interests, Ben Rached changed her academic path to focus on quantum computing specifically. “I’m currently a Ph.D. candidate in Quantum Computer Architecture at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona,” she explained. As her focus is on quantum architecture, Ben Rached works on methods to improve and optimize this infrastructure for the future of quantum computing. “Our group is focused on networking protocols on-chip, and we work on projects to scale quantum computers to host many qubits,” she added.
As both a leader within QTunisia and a leader in her own research group, Ben Rached finds herself as a guide for those looking to learn more about quantum computing and architecture. Because of this, she is working hard to ensure the resources and information are accessible to everyone. This, in turn, she believes, will make the industry more inclusive. She also highlights the importance of programs targeted at specific communities and using role models to draw individuals from minority groups into this industry. “It is an exciting technology, and I aim to contribute to its development,” she stated, mentioning the importance of the industry as a whole. “Maybe this is the greatest invention of the century!”
Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is a staff writer at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Ars Technica, and more.