Jun 18 – 20, 2024
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
America/Toronto timezone

Keynote Speaker Biographies

Natacha Altamirano (PSI 2013)

Natacha Altamirano is a Director in the Data Science team at Birch Hill Equity Partners, a private equity firm based in Toronto. Birch Hill invests primarily in mid-market Canadian companies and manages over $5 billion in capital. Since its founding in 1994, Birch Hill has made over 71 investments, including notable companies such as MLSE, CCM Hockey, SleepCountry, Softchoice, and Constellation Software. Currently, their 14 partner companies collectively represent one of Canada's largest corporate entities, generating over $9 billion in total revenue and employing more than 30,000 people. The Data Science Team at Birch Hill focuses on creating value for portfolio companies by enabling data-driven decision-making through timely data and advanced analytics. These companies optimize their competitive positioning and achieve profitable growth with the right information, systems, and processes. Natacha collaborates with portfolio companies to plan and execute strategic initiatives aimed at unlocking revenue growth and reducing costs. Her projects include sales forecasts, sales enablement, and logistics optimization. Before joining Birch Hill, Natacha earned her Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Waterloo and Perimeter Institute. Her research focused on the observational implications of gravitational decoherence on quantum systems and the missing baryon problem using data from the Planck satellite. Natacha was also part of the 2012-2013 cohort of the PSI master's program, where she studied phase transitions of higher-dimensional black holes. Originally from Argentina, she completed her undergraduate degree in Physics at the National University of Córdoba. 


Miriam Diamond (PSI 2013)

Prof Miriam Diamond obtained her BSc from Carleton University, where she was a summer intern on the original SNO project. She went on to obtain her MSc from PSI, and her PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Toronto where she worked on ATLAS dark matter searches. She did her post-doc at SLAC, primarily on the Heavy Photon Search experiment, before returning to the University of Toronto as an assistant professor in 2019. Her primary research area is the detection of low-mass and long-lived particle dark matter candidates, as a PI on the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiments and on the MATHUSLA collaboration. She is passionate about EDI, accessibility, and outreach to traditionally under-represented communities in physics. 


Shane Farnsworth (PSI 2011)

I am originally from Newcastle Australia, where I completed undergraduate degrees in mechatronic engineering, and in physics. I enrolled in the 2010/11 year of the Perimeter Scholars International, which was the second ever year of the program. I also completed my doctoral studies at the Perimeter under Latham Boyle, focusing on nonassociative extensions of Connes' noncommutative geometry, and its applications in particle theory. After graduation I moved to Berlin, where I have been ever since. In Berlin I worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Quantum Cosmology focusing on spinor driven cosmic bounces and also on anisotropic universes within the context of the no boundary proposal. Under my own DFG grant I also developed Jordan nonassociative spectral geometry. For the last two years I have been working with a small group of physicists from Berlin as an AI consultant focusing on problems like grid stabilization, correcting lidar wind measurements, image classification, and more. I also recently founded and host the Escaped Sapiens podcast in which I interview scientists about their research from all areas of science. I maintain a visiting researcher position at the Max-Planck institute for Gravitational Physics where I continue my research program in nonassociative geometry. 


Friederike Metz (PSI 2016)

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, specializing in computational methods for quantum many-body physics. My academic journey began with undergraduate studies at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and the University of California, Davis in the United States. I earned my PhD at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan, where I focused on machine learning applications for the study and control of quantum systems. During my PhD, I had the opportunity to be a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systesm and completed an internship at IBM Quantum in New York. My research interests lie at the intersection of computational physics and machine learning. Specifically, I am intrigued by how concepts from computational physics, such as tensor networks, can inform the design of new machine learning architectures, and conversely, how machine learning techniques like neural networks can be appled to solve complex problems in quantum many-body physics. 


Sonali Mohapatra (PSI 2015)

Dr Sonali Mohapatra is a Quantum Innovation Sector Lead at the NQCC leading the development and delivery of the NQCC's sectoral innovation strategy and sectoral engagement framework. She works with stakeholders across government, industry, academia and regulatory bodies & policymakers to drive quantum adoption across a portfolio of sectors such as Healthcare and Pharma, Financial Services, Energy, Transport, Space and Telecoms, etc. Sonali has an interdisciplinary research background and extensive industry experience leading the technical development and commercialisation of early-stage quantum, space and AI technologies. Apart from that, Sonali has extensive experience in the EDI sector, consulting extensively over the last 12 years. She is an invited columnist for Via Sat international magazine and a director of the Prospero Space Fellowship - a national space fellowship designed to tackle the current skills and talent gap in the UK space sector. She has founded and chaired non-profits such as New Voices in Space for Space Scotland, QIndia and MTSN in the past. 


Alexandre Vincart-Emard (PSI 2013)

Alexandre is an accomplished professional with a diverse background in both academia and industry. He graduated from the PSI program in 2012, then moved to Vancouver to pursue his PhD at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His doctoral research focused on the numerical investigation of spatial inhomogeneities in the AdS/CFT correspondence. Transitioning from academia to entrepreneurship, Alexandre briefly embarked on an exciting adventure at TandemLaunch, a startup foundry, before ultimately joining a promising startup called Enkidoo in early 2018 to become their CTO. This opportunity helped him hone his leadership and strategic thinking as he navigated the challenges of building a tech-driven business while continuously reshaping its technological vision. Later, Alexandre's journey led him to Avande, where he embraced the world of enterprise Data & AI. As a consultant, he leveraged his expertise to design and optimize robust data systems. His dedication and analytical prowess caught the attention of Air Canada, where he rose to lead data science teams and eventually their MLOps practice.