SFU physicist Stephanie Simmons with Alexander Kurkjian (left) and Kevin Morse.

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SFU physicist Stephanie Simmons receives YWCA Women of Distinction Award

June 09, 2021
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By Ayomide Gbadamosi

Stephanie Simmons, SFU assistant physics professor, CIFAR Research Fellow at SFU and a Canada Research Chair in Quantum Nanoelectronics, is the recipient of the 2021 YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Award in Research, Sciences and Technology. 

The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, held annually since the 1980s, honors individuals and organizations across 12 categories whose remarkable actions and accomplishments have made a lifelong impact on the wellbeing of the Metro Vancouver community. 

This is not the first time Simmons, a founding member of the SFU Quantum Algorithms Institute, has been recognized for her work. 

As a world-leading expert in quantum technologies, silicon spin-photon interfaces, condensed matter spin dynamics and control, silicon integrated photonics, and quantum optics, she was recognized in Caldwell Partners’ 2020 Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list of leaders and innovators who have made significant impacts in their field of work before the age of 40. She is also the only Canadian to receive two Physics World Top Ten Breakthroughs of the Year awards. 

Simmons’ mission is to build the world’s first large-scale quantum processor. Leading SFU’s Silicon Quantum Technology Lab, she developed the ground-breaking idea that spin/photon interfaces in silicon could prove to be the missing ingredient for creating a global quantum network. Her cutting edge research positions SFU and B.C. as a world leader in the emerging field of quantum computing technology. 

“Any research sector that relies on high-performance computing, directly or indirectly, could potentially benefit,” says Simmons, who believes that a global quantum network will solve many of mankind’s most difficult problems, including artificial intelligence, financial modelling and drug discovery.  

Simmons is also the founder and chief quantum officer of Photonic Inc., a. B.C.-based company working to develop the next generation of quantum technologies and tackle the challenge of building practical and applicable quantum systems. 

She is committed to improving equity, diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and math. At her company, half of her leadership team and board of directors is female and about a third of her research team have been women or members of under-represented populations. Since 2012, she has been a dedicated e-mentor to female scientists (high school/undergraduate students) in Canada, the U.K. and Australia.