A Swiss dream

Spending the 2022 summer at EPFL was by far one of the most exciting experiences of my entire undergraduate career. I came across EPFL’s ERIP program and in particular the Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurement (LPQM) through an advertisement on a website at my home university. I looked through some papers of the PI (Dr. Tobias Kippenberg) and it seemed like something I would be interested in and thus I decided to apply. I didn’t actually give much thought to actually spending the summer in Switzerland and was mostly considering staying in Canada. Surprisingly, I got accepted and the ERIP program was also graceful enough to fund my stay there – it seemed like an ideal choice after that point!

My research project lasted 4 months from May to August and was centered around measuring and improving photonic chip designs; in particular, improving the efficiency of a particular chip for microwave to optical transduction. LPQM was a massive lab with close to 50 members and while it was overwhelming at first, I was very pleased with the support I received from my peers and my PhD supervisor. I also truly enjoyed working with my officemates, who always welcomed questions and were also jocular enough to create a fun work environment. I enjoyed spending long hours in the lab and especially long lunches where we had all kinds of multicultural discussions!

While work was definitely fun, the highlight of my summer came from the friends I made through ERIP and the countless trips I did within and around Switzerland. Coming from Canada, it came as a pleasant surprise that travelling around the country was so easy, timeless, and affordable. In addition, the influence of French and Italian cuisines made meals much more interesting (no offence Canada!). The punctual trains, delicious cheese & chocolate and the immaculate scenery made it an incredible experience. As an outdoor person, I could not have asked for more!! At the end of the internship, I counted my travel days to be 28 days out of 16 weeks, in which I got to visit Geneva, Bern, Basel, Zürich, Zermatt, Interlaken, Grindelwald, Milan, Turin, Strasbourg and so many more places. As a cycling fan, I also got to see the Tour de France (it came to Lausanne for one of its stages) and watch races regularly which was never possible from Canada because of the time difference. In retrospect, learning French would have been a good idea since Lausanne is predominantly French-speaking and knowing the local language would have likely improved my cultural involvement and could have positively impacted my stay in Switzerland. Overall, this has all been an unforgettable experience and I genuinely recommend this program to anyone looking to do research in Switzerland!


Hrishikesh Patel, University of British Columbia, Canada
Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurement