We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.
Name: Katja Klobas
Job title: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, quantum condensed matter theory
What are you currently working on?
My research field can be in a few words summarised as 'non-equilibrium many-body dynamics'. The main goal is to understand the emergent laws that govern the behaviour of quantum systems on the macroscopic scale – ie when the number of constituents of matter is very large and it becomes impractical to describe the system as the collection of individual particles. More concretely, I try to gain insight by identifying instances of such systems that are simple enough to be solved, and at the same time exhibit non-trivial features for which one needs to assume some interactions between particles.
Describe a typical day
My working day could look rather featureless to an outside observer, since I am a theoretician and most of my work happens while I’m sitting at the desk. A usual day starts with me checking arXiv for new papers. The rest is typically much less structured, as I tend to focus my efforts on what precisely has to be done. A big chunk of that is spent either writing or reading papers. The more exciting days involve doing some real hands-on research, which range from pen and paper calculations to coding numerical simulations. Besides the more focused research activities, I am also attending and giving seminars, and discussing with colleagues – either at the department or remotely.
If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
Since most of my work happens behind the computer screen, I would try to spend the day outdoors, perhaps by going for a long walk along a coast somewhere. However, if the weather does not permit, I would be also happy to spend a day inside with a good book or a movie.
What is your favourite place in Oxford?
If I had to pick one place I would go for Iffley lock. I am a big fan of locks in general, but this one has a very nice stone bridge, and a weeping willow casting shadow on benches facing the canal. On a sunny day the place looks magical.
Plan B: what would you be if you weren’t doing the job you are currently doing?
When I was younger I was thinking of studying mathematics at the university, so maybe I would be a mathematician.