On Global Filipinos: Quantum physicist Jacquiline Romero receives international award

The first Filipina to receive the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science (FWIS) International Rising Talent Award.

By Loida Nicolas Lewis

Out of the 275 winners of the national and regional L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowships all over the world, the International Rising Talent Award was bestowed on the top 15. The Manila-born Dr. Jacquiline Romero was one of them.

She received the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science (FWIS) International Rising Talent Award in Paris, France in March, the first Filipino woman to receive this award.

She is only 35 years old.

When she was 8 years old, her uncle, who was an engineer, gave her a book on algebra word problems. She was fascinated that she could understand and had fun solving the questions.

That started her love affair with Math and Science.

When she was 15 years old in the Philippine Science High School, she heard for the first time about quantum physics after a physics teacher complained that it is his “hatest” of  all the fields in physics. She googled “quantum physics” and found it fascinating because it is a “new way of looking at information that is both philosophically radical and technologically powerful.”

Dr. Romero graduated magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of the Philippines in Diliman with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics, and completed her Master’s in Science in Physics two years later.

Dr. Romero in her lab: A love affair with Math and Science.

She wanted to pursue experimental quantum physics but it was not offered in any university in the Philippines. She applied to several universitiesbut not in the U.S. because she did not want to sit for the GRE tests. She was offered a full scholarship at the University of Glasgow.  She moved to Scotland in 2008 and received her PhD in Quantum Physics in 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Miles Padgett, an acclaimed academic who now leads the Quantum Imaging Hub of the U.K.

After seven years in Scotland, she moved to the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia in 2015where she is now a senior lecturer and Westpac Research Fellow.

During her studies in Glasgow, an academic lightly joked, “I hope you have more papers than babies.” She was challenged, but also worried, because she was already pregnant with her first child with her husband, Rumelo Amor, also a physicist  from the University of Queensland.

Since then, she has had two more kids and also published several quantum physics articles. As a service for other women in her situation, she wrote for Sciencemag.org the essay “A Perfect Time for Babies,” arguing that studying for a PhD is actually a good time to have kids!

Dr. Romero was a recent keynote speaker at the 20th University of the Philippines Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) Grand Reunion and Convention held in San Francisco in August. Co-chaired by Sonia Delen, a Senior Vice President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and president of the UP Alumni Association of San Francisco,  and Nelsie Parrado, president  of UPAAA, over 400 UP alumni in the U.S. and some coming from Peru, the U.K., and the Philippines participated.

Nelsie Parrado UPAAA president for several years is retiring; the incoming president is Daisy Rodriguez.

Special Guest of Honor at the convention was UP President Danilo Concepcion, previously the Dean of the UP College of Law, my Alma Mater in 1967.

© The FilAm 2019

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