Intern Supervision and Publication in Physical Review Letters
PhD student in physics in Professor André-Marie Tremblay’s group, Chloé has been accumulating scholarships and honors since her undergraduate degree, in addition to being remarkably involved in her community. She co-founded the Diversity in Physics Committee at the University of Sherbrooke (DiPhUS), which aims to take action on diversity and inclusion issues in the Department of Physics. Recently, one of her papers, co-authored with CEGEP student Marguerite Setrakian, is published in the high impact scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Among other research topics Chloe explored during her PhD, high critical temperature cuprates is the one that this paper focuses on. Chloé’s objective was to study, from a theoretical perspective and based on the phase diagram, how the behavior of electrons evolves by changing the temperature or the electron density in a model to simulate electron-doped cuprates. Specifically, this paper presents calculations that introduce a new way to experimentally measure the strength of electron interactions in a material, a quantity that is difficult to measure directly.
For Prof. Tremblay, the publication in Physical Review Letters is unexpected, given that the results of their research could have been very different: “The work took a completely unexpected turn. Discussions with experimental colleagues in Switzerland had put us on an interesting track to interpret their angle-resolved photoemission data. But by going beyond our original ideas, we found a result interesting enough to be published in one of the most important journals in physics. This result tells us that even if the interactions between electrons are strong enough that they can no longer propagate in some directions, in some other directions they can propagate and keep a very clear record, observable in photoemission, of interactions that are so damaging to electrons that they propagate in the other difficult directions.”
A Cégep de Sherbrooke student on a summer internship at IQ
Interested in a wide range of topics, Marguerite Setrakian, at the time a student at Cégep de Sherbrooke in Sciences, Letters and Arts, wanted to get a better idea of what physics research entailed. After one of her teachers referred her to Prof. Tremblay’s research group, Marguerite was accepted as an intern in the summer of 2020.
Even though she lacked a lot of physics knowledge and her internship took place completely at a distance due to COVID-19, Marguerite’s motivation and determination enabled her to meet the challenge with flying colors. “Usually, the interns who work with us are at the bachelor level and have had at least one course in quantum mechanics. With Marguerite, we were able to see that what is really important to succeed in a project is motivation, more than basic knowledge,” explains Chloé.
During her internship, Marguerite collaborated in the launching of calculations on a supercomputer as well as in the output and analysis of the results. She also completed her internship with a presentation to several research groups, for which she received many positive comments from professors.
Currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in French literature and philosophy at the Université de Montréal, Marguerite has not ruled out the idea of going into physics later on. “Thanks to Chloé, who took me under her wing, and to the team, which was dynamic and welcoming even though the internship took place virtually, I learned a great deal, both about the subject of our article and about scientific research in general. The collaborative aspect, which I witnessed through conferences and meetings with international researchers, is what inspired me the most to pursue a career in research. I really got to see what it looks like when people from all over the world work together to advance science.”
The commitment of Chloé Gauvin-Ndiaye
When asked what motivates her to be so engaged in her community, Chloe simply says that she “likes to have variety in what she does”. Furthermore, sharing research through teaching and supervising trainees is a source of motivation for her, as she explains that it is often in these moments that she learns the most.
“Nothing stops Chloé. When I asked her if she would be willing to help me supervise a CEGEP student on a theoretical physics project, she enthusiastically said yes. Although Marguerite had received glowing recommendations from a high school teacher, one of our former students, it was quite a gamble. Quite frankly, Chloe did most of the supervisory work as usual, not me. Teaching beginners the rudiments of the concepts and abstract mathematics we use, introducing them to supercomputer calculations, these are tasks that could daunt anyone, but not Chloé. And what is even more wonderful is that the many trainees she has supervised usually end up with a smile on their face and want to come back to work with Chloé, to share her enthusiasm, to benefit from her expertise.” – Prof. André-Marie Tremblay