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School of Mathematics

School of Mathematics

Blog for the School of Mathematics community

Alumni Stories: Enrique Cervero Martín

Hear about Enrique’s experience working in industry and studying a PhD in Quantum Information and Computation in Singapore.


Programme BSc Mathematics and Physics
Year of graduation 2019
Job title PhD in Quantum Information and Computation
Industry Quantum Information
Home country Spain


Why did you decide to study Maths at the University of Edinburgh?

I spent my teenage years living in Copenhagen and I was always good at sciences. My Maths teacher studied in Aberdeen and encouraged me to look into studying in Scotland, so I applied to a few universities and was fortunate to get an offer from Edinburgh. I originally applied for Theoretical Physics because my goal was to go into nuclear physics, but when I started looking at the course options I realised Maths & Physics gave me more options. I’m glad I did because I started enjoying the Maths courses a lot more from second year onwards.

Can you tell us about your career journey so far?

I think my career path after I graduated from Edinburgh was most influenced by my final year dissertation. When I joined Edinburgh, what I originally wanted to do was to become a nuclear physicist or a nuclear engineer. In the end, my dissertation ended up being focused on quantum information, which tied in nicely my knowledge from both maths and physics.

Then after graduating from Edinburgh, I went to Copenhagen University in Denmark to do an MSc in Mathematics with Quantum Information. I had spent my teenage years in Copenhagen and it’s one of my favourite cities, so although the Masters was challenging, I enjoyed it a lot and my research thesis was also eventually published.

After my Masters in Copenhagen, I wanted some experience in academia and industry so I spent three months in Barcelona working for a research group on quantum cryptography. I then did a 6-month internship in quantum machine learning at a quantum computing company in London, and the work I did there was also published. I really enjoyed my experience in industry, and it made me realise that having a PhD is important for working in this field.

I was keen to move to Asia so I’m now based in Singapore for my PhD, and I recently finished my first big project.

What do you enjoy the most about the PhD?

I enjoy the department and being around lots of like-minded people that are interested in the same things as me – not just maths and physics but hobbies outside of the PhD. I love Singapore – it’s never cold, the food is great and the overall quality of life is good – I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.

What did you gain from your time at the University and were there any experiences during your time at University which particularly helped prepare you for life after graduation?

I learnt the importance of having the drive to try and experience different things. I was keen to do internships – some of my peers did internships in areas such as banking, and I went down the more academic route in the School of Physics. For example, in my third year I did an internship for the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, working with superconductors, big vacuum chambers and cryostats.

I also worked as a Student Ambassador and at a cocktail bar in Edinburgh and both were really valuable experiences too as they helped build my social skills and meet people outside of my programme —some of my best friends now are people I met working in bars. These jobs also teach you time management: balancing your university assignments and work responsibilities.

I was also part of the Hyperloop society which was a great opportunity to learn more interdisciplinary skills such as engineering and applications to real world mechanical problems. Through the Hyperloop society I was also able to meet students from other Schools with similar interests.

Did you live in university accommodation?

I lived in Pollock Halls in first year and I loved being in catered accommodation – it was a great opportunity to meet people and I made some of my closest friends in halls.

Do you have any highlights or a favourite memory of your time at university?

Most of my highlights were during the summers in Edinburgh – either working a job, doing internships or working with the Hyperloop team. In particular one of my highlights was with the Hyperloop team one summer, when we qualified to compete in an international hyperloop competition in Los Angeles. We got the opportunity to go to Los Angeles for 10 days to finalise our hyperloop pod prototype and test it in a vacuum track, which was an amazing experience. The School of Maths was also really generous as they helped me fund my trip to California.

Some of my other favourite memories were at the Maths Society balls and pub quizzes – they were lots of fun.

What advice would you give future students who are considering studying Mathematics at Edinburgh?

If you’re wondering whether to apply for Maths or not – go for it! It may not seem immediately applicable to industry, but Maths really teaches you how to think in a logical way. It’s surprisingly interdisciplinary and allows you to pick up other topics with more ease.

Enjoy the courses while you’re doing them – choose what you’re interested in and don’t just cram for the exam or you won’t appreciate the beauty of what you’re learning.

Travel around Scotland – I used to go to Glasgow for music events and there are lots of beautiful places to go for hikes around Edinburgh. The airport is really accessible to visit farther places too.


Look for opportunities to do new things while you’re at university – not just to build your CV, but to learn different skills and meet new people. For example, work in a bar/café and join societies – you’ll meet different people and gain new skills for both your career and personal life. Your network and skills are just as important as your grades!




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