Interview with Laura Mančinska

• What is your name and what do you do?
I am Laura Mančinska and I am an Associate Professor in Quantum Information at QMATH, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. I joined QMATH in September 2017 and before this I have worked in quantum research centers in various parts of the world (IQC Canada, CQT Singapore, University of Bristol UK).
• Why do you do mathematics? (Motivation, a personal view)
I find that doing mathematics is a lot like solving puzzles and I very much enjoy this aspect of my job. To me it is a very happy and rewarding moment when I first conceive a solution to a problem I’ve been working on for a while.
• What is a typical work day like for you? Please describe your usual activities.
Besides thinking about my current research projects and writing up papers, I also spend a considerable fraction of my time answering to emails, writing grant applications, and meeting with colleagues and students. Looking back, I would say that the time that I spend on these latter activities has been increasing as my career progresses.
• What keeps you in research? Have you had to overcome any barriers or problems?
My main motivation for staying in academia is the enjoyment I get out of solving problems. I also find it rewarding to work with the students and I love that in this line of work I get to spend more time learning new things than in most other professions.
As for the problems, the process of applying for permanent positions was rather stressful and taxing for me. Compared to the number of postdoctoral positions, there aren’t that many permanent positions. My situation was further complicated by the fact that my partner is also in academia and we needed to find a solution that worked for both of us.
• Do you have any advice for others who are starting a mathematical career?
An advice that I would give to a younger version of myself: check arXiv, choose the problems you spend time working on wisely, and foster a network of collaborators.