COVID-19 information for PI Residents and Visitors

Conference Date: 
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 (All day)
Pirsa Collection: 


What can you do with a Physics degree?  Plenty—although the reality is that most people being trained in physics at the undergraduate, graduate, or even postdoctoral levels aren’t aware of the broad spectrum of opportunities available to them.  The problem solving skills necessary to succeed in physics are sought after in a wide range of technology, financial, and industrial sectors.

This day will bring together current students and postdocs in theoretical physics with former students who have found great success in a wide range of different areas—from startups to big companies, finance, and even bestselling novels.  Many of them were affiliated with Perimeter Institute and chose their career paths over opportunities in academia.  Through a combination of talks and panel sessions, this day will showcase the many career possibilities available to young physicists, steps they can take to explore these options, and how to avoid the inevitable pitfalls.

Lunch will be provided, and there will ample opportunities to ask questions and network.

Registration for this event is now closed.

  • Erin Bow, Writer
  • Gary Brock, University of Waterloo
  • Jennifer Dodd, Maker Festival
  • Jorge Escobedo, Canopy Labs
  • Amir Feizpour, Royal Bank of Canada
  • Heather Galt, Communitech Corporation
  • Jonathan Hackett, Bank of Montreal
  • Ann Kallin, Intel Corporation
  • Sonia Markes, QED Consulting
  • Joel Martin, National Research Council Canada
  • Brigette Riley, SpaceX
  • Mike Serbinis, League
  • Rene Stock, Scotiabank
  • Jozef Straus, Adarsan Holdings
  • Kyle Tate, Shopify
  • Imogen Wright, Hyrax Biosciences
  • Ahmed Abouelkomsan, Perimeter Institute 
  • Eugene Adjei, Perimeter Institute
  • Tibra Ali, Perimeter Institute
  • Gwyneth Allwright, Perimeter Institute
  • Júlia Alsina, Perimeter Institute
  • Seth Kurankyi Asante, Perimeter Institute
  • Chukwuemeka Asogwa, University of Waterloo
  • Alvaro Ballon, Perimeter Institute
  • Chenfeng Bao, Perimeter Institute
  • Jacob Barnett, Perimeter Institute
  • Yilber Fabian Bautista, Perimeter Institute
  • Matthew Beach, Perimeter Institute
  • Ashley Bemis, McMaster University
  • Pablo Bosch, Perimeter Institute
  • Christina Bouda, Perimeter Institute
  • Mike Brown, Perimeter Institute
  • Nathan Brunetti, McMaster University
  • Vladimir Calvera, Perimeter Institute
  • Sylvain Carrozza, Perimeter Institute
  • Elijah Cavan, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Juan Cayuso, Perimeter Institute
  • Lila Chergui, Perimeter Institute
  • Frank Corapi, Perimeter Institute
  • Paulina Corona Ugalde, Perimeter Institute
  • Eamonn Corrigan, University of Guelph
  • Karl Davidson, University of Guelph
  • Melanie Demers, McMaster University
  • Lorenzo Di Pietro, Perimeter Institute
  • Kfir Dolev, Perimeter Institute
  • William Donnelly, Perimeter Institute
  • Nicole Drakos, University of Waterloo
  • Matthew Duschenes, Perimeter Institute
  • Stavros Efthymiou, Perimeter Institute
  • Vincent Emond, University of Guelph
  • Job Feldbrugge, Perimeter Institute
  • William Forrest, University of Waterloo
  • Jérémie Francfort, Perimeter Institute
  • Adrián Franco Rubio, Perimeter Institute
  • Thomas Fraser, Perimeter Institute
  • Boris Georgiev, University of Waterloo
  • Mark Girard, University of Waterloo
  • Christophe Goeller, Perimeter Institute
  • Ana Golubeva, Perimeter Institute
  • Thomas Gonda, Perimeter Institute
  • Daryl Good, University of Guelph
  • Finnian Gray, Perimeter Institute
  • Jordan Hanania, University of Guelph
  • Markus Hauru, Perimeter Institute
  • Lauren Hayward Sierens, Perimeter Institute
  • Hao He, McMaster University
  • Tuyen Hoang, University of Waterloo
  • Alexandre Homrich, Perimeter Institute
  • Florian Hopfmueller, Perimeter Institute
  • Qi Hu, Perimeter Institute
  • Aurora Ireland, Perimeter Institute
  • Nafiz Ishtiaque, Perimeter Institute
  • Puttarak Jai-akson, Perimeter Institute
  • Cheryne Jonay, Perimeter Institute
  • Gregory Kaplanek, Perimeter Institute
  • Mansour Karami, Perimeter Institute
  • Eva Kasanda, Universityof Guelph
  • Stephanie Keating, Perimeter Institute
  • Ravi Kunjwal, Perimeter Institute
  • Katanya Kuntz, University of Waterloo
  • Adamn Lewis, Perimeter Institute
  • Junan Lin, University of Waterloo
  • Jean-Philippe MacLean, University of Waterloo
  • Gabriel Magill. Perimeter Institute
  • Niamh Maher, Perimeter Institute
  • Hugo Marrochio, Perimeter Institute
  • Katerina Martinovic, Perimeter Institute
  • Fiona McCarthy, Perimeter Institute
  • Duncan McClenagan, McMaster University
  • Ashley Milsted, Perimeter Institute
  • Maryam Mirkamali, University of Waterloo
  • Soham Mukherjee, Perimeter Institute
  • Elliot Nelson, Perimeter Institute
  • Joachim Nsofini, University of Waterloo
  • Nelson Nunes, York University
  • Felipe Ortega, Perimeter Institute
  • Solomon Akaraka Owerre, Perimeter Institute
  • Qiaoyin Pan, Perimeter Institute
  • Tarun Patel, University of Waterloo
  • Dylan Podkowka, University of Guelph
  • David Pomaranski, University of Waterloo
  • Daniele Pranzetti, Perimeter Institute
  • Jorge Alejandro Preciado Lopez, Perimeter Institute
  • Hung-Yi Pu, Perimeter Institute
  • Djordje Radicevic, Perimeter Institute
  • Abdullah Rahnama, University of Waterloo
  • Matt Richards, McMaster University
  • Jess Riedel, Perimeter Institute
  • Matthew Robbins, Perimeter Institute
  • Ian Roberts, McMaster University
  • Carlos Rodriguez, Perimeter Institute
  • Denis Rosset, Perimeter Institute
  • Ermal Rrapaj, University of Guelph
  • Markus Rummel, Perimeter Institute
  • Allison Sachs, University of Waterloo
  • Nitica Sakharwade, Perimeter Institute
  • Dusan Sarenac, University of Waterloo
  • Laura Sberna, Perimeter Institute
  • Andres Schlief Carvajal, Perimeter Institute
  • Sacha Schwarz, University of Waterloo
  • John Selby, Perimeter Institute
  • Mohamad Shalaby, Perimeter Institute
  • Jiahao Shi, University of Waterloo
  • Peyton Shi, University of Waterloo
  • Jamie Sikora, Perimeter Institute
  • Michael Singh, University of Waterloo
  • Barbara Skrzypek, Perimeter Institute
  • Sebastian Slaman, University of Waterloo
  • Richard Sove, University of Western Ontario
  • Sebastian Steinhaus, Perimeter Institute
  • Huichen Sun, University of Waterloo
  • Ramy Tannous, University of Waterloo
  • Erickson Tjoa, University of Waterloo
  • Ming Tong, University of Waterloo
  • Carmen Trottier, Peel DIstrict School Board
  • Kianna Wan, Perimeter Institute
  • Jessica Weitbrecht, Perimeter Institute
  • Ryan Westernacher-Schneider, Perimeter Institute
  • Brent Wilhelm, University of Guelph
  • Dan Wohns, Perimeter Institute
  • Elie Wolfe, Perimeter Institute
  • Jingxiang Wu, Perimeter Institute
  • Gang Xu, Perimeter Institute
  • Lei Yang, Perimeter Institute
  • Yigit Yargic, Perimeter Institute
  • Junjie Yin, University of Waterloo
  • Laszio Zalavari, Perimeter Institute
  • Lucy Liuxuan Zhang, University of Toronto
  • Qiaoyin Zhou, Perimeter Institute

Tuesday, May 15, 2018




8:30 – 9:00am



9:00 – 9:15am

Michael Duschenes, Perimeter Institute
Welcome and Opening  Remarks


9:15 – 9:30am

Jozef Straus, Adarsan Holdings


9:30 – 10:00am

Mike Serbinis, League
Keynote Address


10:00 – 10:30am

Coffee Break

Bistro – 1st Floor

10:30 – 11:45pm

Panel Discussion: What can you do with your Physics Training?

Erin Bow, Writer
Jennifer Dodd, Maker Festival
Ann Kallin, Intel Corporation
Sonia Markes, QED Consulting

This panel will hear from former physicists who have found success in a variety of areas. They’ll describe how they got there, the challenges and rewards of their chosen careers, and give practical advice on transitioning from academia to industry.


11:45 – 12:00pm

Joel Martin, National Research Council of Canada


12:00 – 1:30pm


Bistro – 1st Floor & Atrium

1:30 – 2:15pm

Imogen Wright, Hyrax Biosciences
Keynote Address


2:15 – 2:45pm

Gary Brock, University of Waterloo
Heather Galt, Communitech

Start-ups in Waterloo Region


2:45 – 3:45pm

Panel Discussion:  Physicists in the Start-Up World

Jorge Escobedo, Canopy Labs
Brigette Riley, SpaceX
Kyle Tate, Shopify

In this panel discussion, we’ll hear from people who have pivoted from physics to the vibrant—and challenging—world of start-ups.


3:45 – 4:00pm

Coffee Break

Bistro – 1st Floor

4:00 – 5:15pm

Panel Discussion: What Opportunities Exist in Finance/Data?

Amir Feizpour, Royal Bank of Canada
Jonathan Hackett, Bank of Montreal
Rene Stock, Scotiabank

This panel will address the many ways in which physicists can put their skills to work in the world of finance, banking, and data.


5:15 – 5:30pm

James Forrest, Perimeter Institute
Closing Remarks




Erin Bow, Writer

Erin Bow studied experimental particle physics, then built a career in science communications, including policy writing, grant writing, and a stint as one of Perimeter’s own science writers.  She’s now a novelist, whose recent book THE SCORPION RULES was named the Canadian Library Association's book of the year for young adults

Gary Brock, Director of Strategic Initiatives, University of Waterloo

Gary is the Director of Strategic Initiatives within the University of Waterloo’s Commercialization Office (WatCo) where his technical and business experience is a resource in bringing new technologies to market and securing competitive advantage through innovation. 
Firsthand experience in start-up company creation and financing, technology licensing and business/product development are used to help realize the commercial potential of the University’s extensive research portfolio. In addition, he currently oversees the University’s AC Jumpstart program which provides early stage high tech start-ups with the seed capital and mentorship needed to build a successful business in today’s knowledge economy.
Prior to joining the University, Gary was a Senior Manager with the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) responsible for technology transfer and commercialization activities within the Centre for Materials and Manufacturing and the Centre for Communications and Information Technology. He played a key role in the creation and development of OCE’s Market Readiness program, a key funding initiative focused on commercial outcomes for University technologies. His early engineering career focused on consumer products manufacturing within large multinational corporations, as well as product development and sales within automotive and aerospace sectors start-ups.
Gary has and currently holds Board and Advisory Committee positions within high tech companies and key University Research initiatives. He is a Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. 
Jenn Dodd, Maker Festival
Jen Dodd believes in working on Things That Matter: projects that will make it better to be alive in 100 years than it is today. She currently leads the Maker Festival in Toronto, bringing to the event her experience working in science outreach, education, event design and theoretical physics. Her previous roles have included designing the program for the massive Quantum to Cosmos Festival at Perimeter Institute, and bringing artists and scientists together as managing director of Subtle Technologies. Jen has been inventing and organizing new kinds of events for 15 years, and she looks forward to more in the future.
Jorge Escobedo, Co-Founder and CTO, Canopy Labs
Jorge is the co-founder and CTO of Canopy Labs, a SaaS company that offers a customer data platform for marketing teams. Jorge leads the company's efforts to develop tools powered by machine learning that help users understand and predict customer actions.
Jorge earned a PhD in Physics from the University of Waterloo in 2012, while being a PhD student in residence at the Perimeter Institute working on Integrability in Gauge and String Theory. Originally from Peru, Jorge studied at the University of Amsterdam, where he earned a M.Sc. in Theoretical Physics in 2008.
Amir Feizpour, Senior Manager, Royal Bank of Canada
Amir Feizpour is a Senior Manager at the Enterprise Data Science team at Royal Bank of Canada. He is also a Scientific Advisor at SEMA Lab. At RBC, Amir manages a small team with a focus on enabling internal clients with data science tools and practices. Prior to this, he held a post-doctoral position at University of Oxford conducting research on experimental quantum computing. Amir holds a PhD in Physics from University of Toronto.
Heather Galt, Vice President, Communitech Corporation
Heather Galt is the Vice President, Start-up Programs at Communitech Corp in Waterloo, Ontario. Communitech helps companies start, grow and succeed; Communitech's start-up programs help founders to develop the skills and knowledge needed to build and scale their companies. Heather has an extensive background in product and service go-to-market, B2B and channel marketing, and internationalization in small, rapidly scaling, and large companies. She was most recently the VP Marketing at Kik Interactive. Prior to Kik, Heather spent 11 years at BlackBerry in various marketing and channel-facing roles.  Heather started her career in start-ups, working in marketing and product management for two rapidly growing companies. Outside of Communitech, Heather is the Chair of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Board and an active community volunteer. She has her MBA in Marketing and Strategy from York University.
Jonathan Hackett, Managing Director of Strategy, Bank of Montreal
Jonathan is the Managing Director of Strategy for Personal & Commercial Banking Canada at the Bank of Montreal. This role continues Jonathan's slow-progression into the applied world, having moved from Theoretical Physics through Management Consulting and finally into Corporate Strategy.
As a Principal in BCG’s Toronto office Jonathan worked in advanced analytics, innovation and financial services. His work included strategy, risk analytics, and explorations on how private and public policy can influence the competitiveness. 
Prior to joining BCG, Jonathan was a doctoral researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, focused in Loop Quantum Gravity.
Ann Kallin, Yield Engineer, Intel Corporation
Ann Kallin is a Yield Engineer at Intel, using machine learning and image processing techniques to reduce defects in the manufacturing process of Intel chips.  She completed her PhD in computational condensed matter physics at the University of Waterloo in 2014 and from there moved directly to Portland, Oregon to start working at Intel.  In her spare time she plays on 2 – 4 hockey teams, snowboards, surfs, mountain bikes, camps, and generally makes the most of living in the pacific northwest. 
Sonia Markes, Principal, QED Consulting
Sonia Markes is the principal of QED consulting, a boutique analytics consultancy combining a perspective from epistemology with experience in loyalty and marketing analytics.
Prior to working in analytics and data science, Sonia did research in Quantum Foundations at the Perimeter Institute while completing her Masters in Applied Mathematics. She continues to look for opportunities to apply the concepts she studied through her work in understanding and influencing human behaviour.
Joel Martin, Director of Research and Development, Digital Technologies
Joel Martin is the Director of Research and Development for Digital Technologies at the National Research Council of Canada.  He leads a group of 80+ researchers and developers focusing on data analytics and machine learning applied in a variety of areas such as machine translation and computer vision.
Dr. Martin spent his 25-year career both in academia and in the government investigating machine-learning techniques applied to natural language and bioinformatics.
He holds an M.Sc. and Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology in Artificial Intelligence (1987, 1992).  He also earned a Master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Manitoba (1986).
Brigette Riley, Propulsion Development Engineer, SpaceX
From an early age, growing up in Houston, TX, I've always been inspired by the night sky. I was motivated to make an impact to space exploration - either through our knowledge of the universe or space flight. Before graduating high school I had my private pilot's license, constructed a small-scale wind tunnel, and was observing the skies with my home-built, reflecting telescope. I wanted to be up there among the stars and thus I began my career as an undergraduate in aerospace engineering.  
My thirst for knowledge continued to grow - I've pursued avenues both academically and professionally in a  wide array of fields. Academically I've specialized in areas ranging from aerospace engineering, planetary geology, control systems, and physics. Professionally I've held various positions from missile design and development to rocket test stand designs and engine performance analysis. Presently I'm  working as a Propulsion Development Engineer with SpaceX while concurrently pursuing a PhD focusing on stochastic controls.
At home, my fiance and I have 3 rambunctious dogs that we spoil as often as we can with hikes and beach days.​
Mike Serbinis, Founder and CEP, League
Michael Serbinis is the CEO and Founder of League, a next generation healthcare platform that is set to disrupt the world of insurance. Michael is known as a serial entrepreneur who has built multiple transformative technology platforms across several industries, with over $1B of exits.
Most recently Michael was the founder and CEO of Kobo, a digital reading company that burst onto the publishing scene in 2009, driving $110M in sales in its first year, and under a billion in 4 years. Under Michael’s leadership, Kobo became the only global competitor to Amazon’s Kindle with 20-million customers in 190 countries. Michael sold Kobo to Japanese Internet giant Rakuten for $315M in 2012.
Prior to Kobo, Michael was the first to develop “cloud storage” building pioneer DocSpace, and exiting for $568M in 2000 to Critical Path, 7 days before the market peaked in 2000. Michael got his start with college friends Kimbal and Elon Musk, building one of the world’s first search engines, Zip2, which later sold to Altavista for $300M.
A member of the Perimeter Institute's Board of Directors and the Vector Institute’s Board of Directors, MaRS Discovery District Board of Directors, Board of Trustees at the Ontario Science Centre, a member of the Creative Destruction Lab G7/ML7 and YPO. Michael is also a mentor & investor in new technology companies through his company Three Angels Capital.
Once upon a time, Michael was a winner of the Nerd Olympics! He designed a high temperature superconductor propulsion system that won Gold at the Intel International Science Fair, awards & sponsorships from Nasa Jet Propulsion Lab, Rockwell Aerospace, Intel. This set him on a career building new innovative technologies in quantum cryptography, network design, search, storage, email, media, and now…health.
Jozef Straus, President, Adarsan Holdings 
Dr. Straus co-founded JDS Fitel in 1981 and was instrumental in its merger with Uniphase Corporation in 1999 to create JDS Uniphase Corporation, a worldwide leader in fiber optic communications.  He retired from JDS Uniphase in 2003. Prior to JDS Fitel, he held various research and management positions related to fiber optic technology at Bell Northern Research Ltd. and Nortel.   His studies at the Czech Technical University in Prague were interrupted in 1968 by the Russian Invasion of Czechoslovakia. He immigrated to Canada in 1968 and completed his education at the University of Alberta where he received his BSc in 1969 and PhD degree in Physics in 1974. Dr. Straus holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Alberta, Touro College, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University.  He is a current and past Board Member of several private and public High Tech Companies and Research Organizations.  Dr. Straus has numerous patents, publications and other public honors to his credit. He is involved in several charitable organizations and is most proud of his past involvement as Co-Chairman of the successful Ottawa Hospital’s Legacy Campaign.  Dr. Straus and his wife, Vera Koval Straus live in Ottawa. They have a vast art collection including The Wooden Bridge, (Le pont du bois) 1872, by Claude Monet, which is on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Canada.
Kyle Tate, Data Science Lead, Shopify
Kyle Tate is a Data Science Lead at Shopify building the predictive models that power Shopify Capital and Shopify Order Fraud Analysis. Kyle received his MSc in Theoretical Physics from the University of Waterloo after graduating from the Perimeter Scholars International Program in 2010. After Perimeter, he did doctoral research in mathematical physics at Victoria University Wellington before leaving academia in 2013 to begin a career in data analytics. Kyle is interested in taking the ideas and techniques from the pages of machine learning textbooks and papers and bringing them to life in the real world.
Imogen Wright, Co-founder and CSO, Hyrax Biosciences
Imogen is a software developer, bioinformatician and recovering theoretical physicist. She was valedictorian of the inaugural class of the Perimeter Scholars International masters programme.  After PSI, she worked as a software development engineer, first at Amazon Web Services and then at a London-based big data startup. She subsequently completed a PhD in bioinformatics, during which she invented a novel algorithm to find mutations in DNA that confer drug resistance. She then co-founded the company Hyrax Biosciences, which aims to bring routine HIV and TB drug resistance testing to low-resource settings.

Keynote Address

Tuesday May 15, 2018


Tuesday May 15, 2018


  • Natacha Altamirano, Perimeter Institute
  • Chelsea Arnott, Perimeter Institute
  • Agata Branczyk, Perimeter Institute
  • Patricia Butler, Perimeter Institute
  • James Forrest, Perimeter Institute
  • Debbie Guenther, Perimeter Institute
  • Natasha Waxman, Perimeter Institute