"It is a great honour to be awarded, and it made me remember the amazing time I had at INRS and in Montreal, as well as the great people I met and with whom I still have contact with. I think most memorable are the coffee breaks we had together, where we get to know each other, and where almost all of our most creative and impactful ideas were generated."
Mr Christian Reimer (PhD Energy Sciences and Materials, 2018)
Co-founder and Head of Product, HyperLight Corporation
What brought you to INRS for your studies?
When I started to look into places for my PhD, Montreal was not one of my priorities because I did not speak any French, and I actually had never heard of INRS before. However, I knew of Prof. Morandotti, who is very well known in the field. I then met Dr. Marcello Ferrera, a previous PhD student of Prof. Roberto Morandotti, and he told me about INRS and how it is like working in Roberto’s lab, and based on his input and after talking to Roberto, I decided to join his group.
What was your experience like at INRS when you studied here?
When I started my PhD, I already had some research experience and I knew what kind of research I would like to do during my PhD. Prof. Morandotti was very supportive and gave me a lot of freedom and flexibility to follow my ideas and I was immediately integrated into the group and started working with amazing postdocs and other graduate students. I particularly enjoyed the spirit of teamwork and collaboration, where we never had to solve issues alone, but could always discuss things within the group or with collaborators.
Do you have a favourite memory of your campus?
My favorite times (and actually also most productive) were the coffee breaks where we would discuss our plans for the day or week, mentioned issues in the lab, shared results, or discussed new ideas.
What is an important lesson you learned during your time at INRS?
Don’t try to solve everything by yourself. Discuss your project and ideas, ask for help and try to collaborate with as many people within your and other groups.
Can you tell us about your career path from graduation to present?
After my PhD, I went to Harvard to join the group of Prof. Marko Loncar, where I received a Marie Curie Fellowship by the European Union. At Harvard, I started to work on nonlinear optics in thin-film lithium niobate. I was very lucky as it turned out that I joined just at the right time, because the possibility opened up to join the founding team of HyperLight, a start-up company with the goal to commercialize the lithium niobate technology. After only one year at Harvard, I decided to canceled my postdoc fellowship and joined HyperLight full time. I have since then worked for HyperLight as Head of Product, and dedicated my efforts on transferring the thin-film lithium niobate technology from a research environment to commercial products.
How did your time at INRS prepare you for your career?
The research at INRS prepared me to become a postdoc, as I gained experience in both experimental and theoretical research. During my time at INRS, I also co-founded a start-up company out of Prof. Morandotti’s lab called Ki3Photonics. Going through the process of starting a company at INRS helped me immensely to make the decision to join HyperLight.
What advice would you like to give to current students?
Collaborate as much as you can within your group and with others. Learn what other people at INRS or at other universities are working on, and build a network of people you trust and are comfortable asking for opinions and advice. I have learned that almost everything, from research to business, comes down in large parts to personal relationships, and it is never too early to start building a network.
What are you hoping for in the future?
I hope that I can continue to work on topics that excite me and to meet as many people from different backgrounds as possible and learn from them.