Postdoc Highlight: Dr. Rafael Alexander
November 11, 2020 - Gloria Cordova
CQuIC bids farewell and best wishes to Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Rafael Alexander who is moving to the next phase in his career at RMIT University. Raf came to UNM a little more than three years ago, beginning work as one of four postdoctoral fellows at CQuIC in October 2017 and returns to Melbourne in November 2020 to work as a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow. This juncture takes Rafael full circle. Raf earned his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Sydney, completing his program under the supervision of Professors Nicolas Menicucci and Stephen Bartlett. Upon completing his PhD, Raf’s research in Quantum Information Science immediately continued as a Visiting Researcher at RMIT University in Melbourne where he now returns to work with Professors Jared Cole, Nick Menicucci, Ben Baragiola and the other members of the QuRMIT research group (https://qurmit.org/).
When Raf began his employment at UNM, CQuIC had recently been awarded an NSF grant to become a Focused Research Hub in Theoretical Physics (FRHTP). The FRHTP’s activities and purpose centered around postdoctoral research fellows who would work with CQuIC's senior scientists and research students on projects generated by the FRHTP's Project Directors. The FRHTP postdocs bring new expertise to CQuIC and are a multiplicative factor in ongoing research and new projects in a portfolio of quantum information science projects.
As a Postdoctoral Fellow under the FRHTP at CQuIC, Raf was involved in a myriad of research projects and other Center activities that expanded the collaborative efforts not only for his own research but enhanced the work of CQuIC faculty, postdocs, and students. Raf’s prolific approach created new partnerships that will continue beyond his presence at UNM: collaborations with theory and experimental colleagues including Distinguished Professor Carl Caves at UNM, Professors Saikat Guha and Zheshen Zhang at the University of Arizona, and the research group of Professor Akira Furusawa at the University of Tokyo, as well as a consultancy in the private sector, Xanadu in Toronto.
While a Postdoctoral Fellow at CQuIC, Raf shared a project with postdocs Dr. Pablo Poggi and Dr. Chris Jackson exploring symmetric spaces and their relationship to generalized coherent states (GCSs). Chris Jackson states that “by wandering around these symmetric spaces, Raf discovered a formula for the quantum Fisher information (QFI) of a thermal GCS. The QFI is a quantity invented by Carl Caves, and our result comes with a new perspective of the QFI that is new to even him.”
When asked about how his work at CQuIC has been pivotal for him, Raf stated “UNM enabled me to re-develop how I thought about research. The free-range style of research given to us postdocs gave me the opportunity to consider carefully "the what" and "the how" of my work. I was encouraged to think deeply and slowly about important questions that interested me, rather than to blindly follow the current towards the next incremental advance. That is one of the two main things that were pivotal for me. The other was establishing relationships with the rich academic environment at UNM. Though the students and staff supported a diverse range of stimulating research programs, they were all without exception interested, engaging, and supportive. Together, these two aspects of my experience give me confidence to swim into the deeper waters of research and academic life.”
Many of us at CQuIC will always consider Dr. Rafael Alexander a colleague and a friend we look forward to meeting again.