Newswise — Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA), in collaboration with the four U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Research Centers, recently launched the “You Belong in Quantum Series!” The initiative showcases distinguished leaders in QIS (quantum information science) and their perspectives on improving representation, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is part of the National Centers’ workforce development mandate as they prepare the next generations of scientists and engineers and champion innovation and inclusion in this fast-growing field. The series, led by QSA’s lead partner, Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia Labs), offers the QIS community an opportunity to talk about their career pathways and sources of resiliency and invite others across disciplines and industries to create equitable access and a culture of belonging.

“As we prepare for the next generation of quantum scientists and engineers to accelerate technology co-design and collaboration, diversity, equity, and inclusion are intrinsic to our recruitment and ecosystem development strategy,” said David Kistin, QSA’s Associate Director of QIS Ecosystem.

The first of a series of sessions planned for 2024 featured presentations from Kimberly D. McGuire, Chief Operations Officer for the Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage (C2QA), one of the five DOE National QIS Research Centers led by Brookhaven National Laboratory; Justin Perron, an Associate Professor of Physics at California State University San Marcos with a research focus in silicon quantum electronics; and Damian Watkins, Chief of Research and Innovation at Aperio Global. The presenters shared their own diverse backgrounds and personal experiences in QIS and discussed how to build diversity in the field, starting with educational outreach.

 “Research shows that heterogeneous teams, more diverse teams, are much more successful than homogeneous teams,” explained McGuire. “The idea behind that is that heterogeneous teams—whether they are racial, gender, or educationally diverse—bring a different set of experiences, thinking, nuance, workplace habits, and perspectives. This work is so challenging; it's much needed to meet the scientific challenges we’ll face in the future.”

McGuire, who joined C2QA in 2021 to spearhead operations and management of the center, puts diversity at the forefront of her recruitment efforts. “It is key to engage folks early. Keeping DEI at the forefront of thought, conversations, decisions, and desired outcomes underpins everything that we do in C2QA so that we can not only attract diverse groups to the QIST (quantum information science and technology) workforce but keep them in the field while providing support at all stages through the course of their career,” said McGuire.

Engaging with the future workforce early on is also key to Perron’s work at Cal State San Marcos, a small undergraduate campus and a predominantly minority-serving institution. Perron led a California State University-wide effort that resulted in a grant of more than $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a workforce capable of thriving in a quantum landscape. Titled “QIST in the CSU: Expanding Access to Quantum Information Science and Technology,” the program seeks to broaden participation by providing student opportunities and support. The planned methodologies are bridge programs to expose incoming undergraduate students to QIST and ensure that they have the math skills necessary to succeed in their college majors; cohort-based student learning communities that will provide professional development and community support to students interested in QIST; and summer internships through Sandia National Laboratories that will offer QIST research experiences that are rare at the undergraduate level because of the cost and complexity of QIST systems.

“Once I started working in QIS, I really wanted to figure out how to integrate quantum concepts at predominantly undergraduate institutions and minority-serving institutions, not just the big research centers,” said Perron. “This program definitely wouldn't have happened if there wasn't top-down support, with people saying this is something we value, here are resources to support it, and acknowledgment that it's important.”

Though he was not drawn into quantum early in his educational experience, Watkins now leads innovation and research at a company that develops cybersecurity and artificial intelligence solutions. Watkins describes feeling less than enthused with a quantum mechanics course in graduate school, but then later in his career rediscovering quantum when he partnered with IBM to take on a NASA innovation challenge around quantum sensors. “I’ve been hooked ever since then,” he said. Watkins has since joined the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), an industry-driven consortium. Increasing diversity in quantum and drawing in a diverse workforce through early educational outreach is a priority for Watkins in his involvement with QED-C.

Through QED-C, Watkins participated in creating a report on how well Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are prepared for quantum, with guidance on what to teach, how to prepare, fostering research “It is the first step in even getting students interested in the field,” he said. “It was when I did the preliminary research for this report that I realized I was alone—I went to a quantum conference last year and I saw two faces that looked like mine in a group of about 1,000 people,” said Watkins. “I immediately reached out to a colleague at the QED-C and suggested a focus group around increasing diversity in quantum, and that’s where this report emerged.”

“Making programs and policies that will encourage and engage racially diverse communities will ensure that they are being embraced and pulled into these ecosystems,” said McGuire.

“Building a culture of inclusion and diversity is essential to the future of quantum information science, and learning about a diverse range of perspectives and experiences is part of how we’re going to get there,” said QSA Director Bert de Jong.

QSA will continue to explore how to make this a reality in the You Belong in Quantum Series! throughout 2024, incorporating new themes and highlighting actions that contribute to building inclusive opportunities and a sense of belonging in QIS. Follow us at @QSAcenter on X (formerly Twitter) and @QuantumSystemsAccelerator (LinkedIn) to stay up to date on future events.





Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 16 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

The Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA) is one of the five National Quantum Information Science Research Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and with Sandia National Laboratories as lead partner, QSA catalyzes national leadership in quantum information science to co-design the algorithms, quantum devices, and engineering solutions needed to deliver certified quantum advantage in scientific applications. QSA brings together dozens of scientists who are pioneers of many of today’s unique quantum engineering and fabrication capabilities. In addition to industry and academic partners across the world, 15 institutions are part of QSA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of Colorado at Boulder, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Caltech, Duke University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of New Mexico, University of Southern California, UT Austin, and Canada’s Université de Sherbrooke. For more information, please visit