Open Quantum Initiative Undergraduate Fellowship

Program Description 

The Open Quantum Initiative (OQI) Undergraduate Fellowship provides undergraduate students with research experiences working in quantum science laboratories and research groups. Interested undergraduates are invited to apply online

With the support of Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE) member and partner institutions this fellowship helps to establish diversity, equity, and inclusion as priorities central to the development of the quantum ecosystem. Through the Fellowship, students expand their understanding of quantum information science and engineering (QISE), connect with leaders in academia and industry, and increase awareness of quantum career opportunities, including the wide range of opportunities to leverage applied quantum research in fields such as drug design, bioimaging, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and finance. The summer experience is aimed at developing students' research literacy skills and exposure to the wide diversity of fields and subfields (including experimental, computational, and theoretical approaches) in:

  • Quantum Computing
  • Quantum Communication
  • Quantum Sensing
  • Quantum Optics/Information Science
  • Quantum Materials

Students participating in the program spend summers working in person with research groups on challenging QISE projects. Fellows will be given on-campus housing at their institution, a stipend of $6,000, and travel to/from the program. Research experiences occur across the CQE community, which includes: University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Northwestern University, and The Ohio State University.  Dates of the fellowship depend on the institution each Fellow is placed at:

  1. The Ohio State University: May 20 – July 26, 2024
  2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: May 28 – August 2, 2024
  3. University of Wisconsin–Madison: May 28 – August 2, 2024
  4. Argonne National Laboratory: May 28 – August 2, 2024
  5. Fermilab: May 28 – August 2, 2024
  6. University of Chicago: June 10 – August 18, 2024
  7. Northwestern University: June 16 – August 24, 2024

The OQI experience kicks off with an industry site visit to learn more from quantum-focused and quantum-adjacent companies. Previous cohorts have visited IBM Research in Yorktown, NY and HRL Laboratories in Malibu, CA. The experience concludes with the OQI Research Symposium where OQI Fellows present their research to current and previous OQI cohorts, faculty, and industry partners.

The Open Quantum Initiative is a group of researchers, educators, and leaders among the Chicago Quantum Exchange that champions the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in quantum science.

The OQI Undergraduate Fellowship offers undergraduate students the opportunity to gain research experiences working in a quantum science laboratory or research group. 

The Open Quantum Initiative, in partnership with the Chicago Quantum Exchange and CQE member and partner institutions (University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, and The Ohio State University) invites students to apply for the OQI Undergraduate Fellowship.

The Open Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee is comprised of:

  • Chris Anderson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • David Awschalom, Chicago Quantum Exchange; University of Chicago; Argonne National Laboratory
  • Elizabeth Goldschmidt, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Jay Gupta, The Ohio State University
  • Joseph Heremans, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Mikhail Kats, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Gabriel Perdue, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Kai Shinbrough, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Leah Weiss, University of Chicago

Throughout the summer program, awardees will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Working directly with faculty and senior researchers on challenging and societally relevant research projects
  • Professional development activities aimed at developing skills in research ethics, science communication, resume/CV workshops, and professional networking
  • Social activities with other awardees and field trips
  • Virtual cohort meet-ups during the 2023/24 academic year for students to network with industry partners, hear from subject matter experts, and participate in soft skills training (resume writing, communications, job application tips); and application fee waivers for select events
  • Ongoing mentorship with summer advisors and peers throughout the academic year
  • Stipend of $6,000, on-campus housing, travel to/from the program
  • Students participate in 10-week residential QISE research experiences, which include completion of a research project, regular meetings with graduate student or postdoc mentors, and presentations at a summer research symposium attended by the CQE community.
  • The Fellowship follows a model where students have numerous opportunities to interact with the other members of the cohort during the summer research period and throughout the following academic year.
  • During the academic year following summer research, OQI Fellows regularly meet virtually to continue expanding their understanding of quantum science and career opportunities in the field, grow professional networks with leaders in academia and industry, and engage additional trainings. The OQI aims to provide future research experiences for alumni, as well as opportunities to mentor new OQI Fellows.
  • Students must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program at an accredited educational institution, including community colleges, located in the United States; recently graduated seniors are not eligible for the program.
  • Students must have completed their freshman year by June 2024 with at least 4 undergraduate college courses of some combination of physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and/or computer science. Interested community college students who have completed one year of studies are highly encouraged to apply to our program.
  • Students must be majoring or intending to major in physics, chemistry, materials science, mathematics, electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, quantum science, philosophy, or a QISE related major.
  • Applicants from all institution types are invited to apply. Priority is given to applicants from, though not limited to, minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and small liberal arts colleges, as well as first-generation college students and those with no prior research experience. All students interested in QISE are encouraged to apply.
  • As this program is intended to be multi-year, preference will be given to applicants who are rising sophomores or rising juniors, however students of any undergraduate year are encouraged to apply.

A completed application consists of the following:

  • A completed online application, which requires 1 letter of reference
  • A 300-500-word "statement of interest" that includes a description of the areas of QISE that interests you most (e.g. experimental, theoretical, or computational, and subject matter area), how you hope to benefit from participation in the fellowship program, and your future education and career aspirations
  • A 300-500 word statement that outlines a challenge you have overcome in your personal or professional life and the strategies you used to succeed
  • An official or unofficial transcript uploaded to the application

Applications are now closed for the 2024 cohort

The application for the 2025 cohort will open in fall of 2024. 

Meet current and previous fellows

The Open Quantum Initiative undergraduate fellowship program is made possible by funding provided by the University of Chicago; the US Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions and Q-NEXT, which is led by Argonne National Laboratory; the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN) and the Wisconsin Quantum Institute at the University of Wisconsin­–Madison; The Ohio State University; Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; and UChicago’s Inclusive Innovation in the Sciences Fund, which invests in programs that provide residents of Chicago’s South Side with education and job opportunities connected to several growing scientific domains, including quantum science and engineering.