Carrie Segal

Stony Brook University

Research Assistant

I am a junior in the physics department at Stony Brook University, with an interest in quantum computation and quantum information. I have two prior degrees, an AS from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Jewelry Design and a BS from SUNY Empire State College in Business, Management and Economics. After graduating from high school in 2003 I knew I was interested in building things. I majored in jewelry design to learn the design and manufacturing process, since I had enjoyed fabricating art projects in high school. My courses at FIT taught me how to start with an idea, create a design and build it. To sell the jewelry I was manufacturing I taught myself how to create e-commerce websites. I am an avid reader and while at FIT one of the books I read, Quicksilver by Neil Stephenson, introduced me to the wonders of the scientific method, through the adventures of Isaac Newton and the early experiments at the Royal Society.

After graduating from FIT I moved to Florida in 2005. While in Florida I enrolled in the State University of New York’s remote learning center, Empire State College. I was looking for a more practical degree and selected Business, Management and Economics. I knew this would help with my business and I wanted to learn more about economics, a subject I was interested in from reading about Isaac Newton’s contributions to the monetary system. I studied part time and supported myself by making jewelry, lampwork glass beads and utensil components. I traveled to art shows displaying my wares, and I sold the components through my website.

In 2007 I moved to Long Island and found a position with a financial services company in Manhattan, near Grand Central Terminal. Every day as I walked through the great hall in Grand Central I would look up at the constellations painted on the ceiling overhead and remember Quicksilver. The constellations reminded me of Isaac Newton, and how he discovered gravity. I liked to think about how new inventions are constantly being made and I enjoyed reading about new technology, especially in computers. At the time I felt unsure of my ability to use math, and thought I would not be able to pursue a career in research. Despite this, in the fall of 2009, shortly before graduating from SUNY Empire State, I decided to apply to Stony Brook’s physics program. The decision was inspired by a book by Mandelbrot, which talked about the importance of exposing yourself to random chances.

After taking the chance to apply to Stony Brook I realized I wanted to learn programming, to see if I could. I was commuting by train and I began to use the two hours each day to study Actionscript 3, the programming language used to create interactive Flash applications. When learning Actionscript I took a very methodical approach. I read books and worked through each of the lessons, creating several small Flash applications. This approach worked so well that I decided to try using the same method to improve my math skills. By the time I was accepted at Stony Brook I felt comfortable with math and able to use math as a tool, just as programming is used to create software.

I started at Stony Brook in January 2010 and expect to graduate in May 2013, each semester I take courses in physics, math and computer science/engineering. Shortly after starting school I was wandering the library and found my research interest in the form of a book, “Quantum Computation and Quantum Information” by Nielson and Chuang. I intend to go to graduate school for physics or computer science and in the future I see myself working to invent and improve designs for quantum computers and using physics to investigate methods to push the limits of computing.

Stony Brook Laser Teaching Center June-2011