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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
July 31, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Shohini Ghose, Faculty



Shohini Ghose remembers being a little girl living in West Bengal (India) and getting excited about solving the hardest math problems in class. Today, she is unlocking the mysteries of the quantum world with the same level of passion – and trying to figure out the best ways to encourage girls and women to enter this typically male-dominated field.

Ghose, an associate professor of Physics and Computer Science at Laurier, is an expert in quantum chaos. She recently won a 2011 Sera Bangali award, which honours people of Bengali origin who have made significant contributions in the fields of music, film, business, science, sports, art, or public life, as well as an overall lifetime achievement award.

“I was very honoured that they considered me for this award,” said Ghose, an associate professor in Laurier’s Department of Physics and Computer Science. “I’m already very passionate about my work, and getting this award just reinforces my commitment to this type of research.”

The award was in part for a groundbreaking study she helped design with Poul Jessen, a professor of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, which provided direct evidence of a connection between the very different worlds of quantum mechanics and classical chaos.

Their study, which was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, also provided the first look at a connection between entanglement and chaos. Entanglement suggests that atoms can be connected in ways that aren’t possible in the macroscopic classical world around us. The results help with efforts to create a quantum computer.

“We want to harness something like entanglement that could significantly speed up our computers and make them do things that are unimaginable,” said Ghose.

Amid all of these accomplishments, Shohini is also trying to break down barriers to women in science. As vice-chair of the Canadian Association of Physicists’ Committee to Encourage Women in Physics, her goal is to increase the participation of women in physics and raise the awareness of women’s contributions in science. She also wants to use her research skills to explore how women learn best, optimal classroom environments and how to create more inclusiveness.

“I feel that I understand and I sympathize with girls and women who don’t want to join physics because it can be lonely and isolating,” said Shohini. “But I also think this is something we could do well at Laurier – building a strong, inclusive community that supports and promotes women in science – and I hope to explore that.”