Beata Zjawin

Summer Researcher, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo


Never stop learning!

What do you do?

Everything that surrounds us can be described using physics. When we look at very small scales, for example at atoms, we talk in the language of Quantum Physics. Quantum Physics is very good at predicting outcomes of experiments and explaining the phenomena in physics that we don't find intuitive. However, people still don't understand where it comes from and how to interpret it. This is what I work on, the foundations of Quantum Physics. I don't ask what the outcome of the experiment is, I ask *why* we observe it.

Why did you choose this field?

I was always interested in physics, but it is really hard! Physicists make a lot of assumptions and approximations because the problems faced in physics are usually impossible to solve on a piece of paper, or even using a professional computer. Every year, people develop new theories and make progress in abstract fields such as Quantum Gravity. Nevertheless, one of the fundamental building blocks of our Universe, Quantum Physics, is not well understood. This is why I work on foundations of Quantum Physics, I want to understand the World that surrounds us and the language that we use to describe it.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Detection of gravitational waves. There were proposed over 100 years before they were detected in 2015. I wish younger me would have known the power of mathematics and theoretical physics. It amazes me how one can predict an effect that needs a century of technological development to be observed. Now I know how much we don't know about the Universe and the detection of gravitational waves showed that we can still make new discoveries.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love solving problems. I love using logics, educating others, presenting my research to others. In my opinion, STEM allows you to work on new problems every day. Every day I learn something new, and I am being creative. It is just never boring.

Best advice for next generation?

Never stop learning! I was the only girl in my physics class, but it never discouraged me. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses and be honest about them. You need to keep improving yourself. Just learn what you like and keep doing it.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Be the change you want to see in the World

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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