Postdoc Corner

By Donna Cusa

Postdoc Community Meeting & Mixer

A March 23 kickoff meeting was held to announce seed funding opportunities, postdoc networking, and conduct a poll to understand professional development needs and their priority. A July 20 meeting included discussions about chair, vice chair, and communications leader roles—plus, a lecture on proposal writing.

Stay tuned for the next meeting on Aug. 24.

If you are a C2QA postdoc and would like to attend, please reach out to Donna Cusa (

João Barata, Postdoc

Photo of João Barata

What is your current research focused on?

Previously, I worked on the study of Quantum Chromodynamic (QCD) jets in hot quark gluon plasmas and applications of quantum computing to High Energy Physics.

I joined the Nuclear Theory Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory this past March and will dedicate part of my research time to continuing to explore ways in which quantum computers (and other quantum technologies) can help us to better understand physics at high energies and densities.

Tell us about your educational background and interests?

I completed my bachelors at Instituto Superior Técnico (University of Lisbon) between 2014 and 2017. After that I moved to Imperial College London to complete a one-year master’s degree. For my PhD, I migrated back to the Iberian Peninsula. I did my thesis work between 2019 and 2021 and obtained my PhD from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 2021, with a brief visit to BNL in 2020 supported by a Fulbright scholarship.

What, outside of physics, holds your interest?

When I was younger, I studied at a regular school and at the National Conservatory in Lisbon. Although, at some point, I decided to go on and study physics more seriously, I am very proud to have performed the Rococo Variations for cello by Tchaikovsky as my final examination piece.

Michael DeMarco, Postdoc

Michael DeMarco

Progress/Achievement in 2022

Michael received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in condensed matter physics, where he studied lattice models of chiral quantum phases. His work centered on using topological phases to simulate topological field theories on the lattice, culminating in a solution to the decades-old 'Chiral Fermion Problem.'

He joined BNL in February 2022 and is working with the XCITe team to foster cross-thrust collaboration towards our 10-10-10 goal. His first projects focus on realizing the Schwinger model using bosonic modes and developing an architecture for modular superconducting quantum systems.

Education and Professional Experience

I completed my undergraduate degree at Rice University in 2014 when I worked in ability, motivation, and opportunity (AMO) theory. I earned a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge before coming to MIT in 2015. During my PhD work, I took a hiatus to found and a software startup. We grew to four employees, and I served as CEO until the company was acquired in 2021. Back at MIT, I chaired our Graduate Student Council’s outreach to the federal government, leading to an amendment to the National Science Foundation for the Future Act on student health and a letter to the Department of Defense on science funding. 

Most Recent Publications

  • Topological Mott Insulators and Discontinuous U(1) θ-Terms
  • A Commuting Projector Model with a Non-zero Quantized Hall Conductance
  • Compact U(1) Chern-Simons Theory as a Local Bosonic Lattice Model with Exact Discrete 1-Symmetries

Accomplishment that he is especially proud of:

I trained my 15-year old cat to jump through hoops.

One thing that most people may not know about you:

I grew up fluently speaking Spanish and English. Although my Spanish is rusty now, it comes back if I spend a week at home in Texas.

2022-20716  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom