Physics - Careers Seminar

Back to Listing

Physics Careers Seminar: "An Honest Look at Startup Life in Silicon Valley"

Event Type
Department of Physics
wifi event
Sep 4, 2020   12:00 pm  
Dr. Mohammed Sheikh, Deep Learning Researcher, Standard Cognition
Lance Cooper

Abstract: In many ways, working startups in Silicon Valley (and elsewhere) is similar to researching in the physics labs at UIUC. You often have no idea what you’re doing, there’s a 99% chance you’re going to fail, but you still stay up until 3 in the morning trying to figure this one little thing out. In other ways, startup life is different, because the training wheels are off, and there are many tumultuous events in a startup’s natural life that can make or break careers in a matter of weeks. My talk will focus on the expected and unexpected experiences of working at a startup as someone with a physics research background. I will talk a bit about what I currently do, and I will also focus on what happens when startups go belly up, how to survive such events, and what kind trade-offs are made when joining startups as opposed to established companies.

Bio: I worked with Professor Karin Dahmen at UIUC for my PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics. My work blended together some amount of data analysis, theoretical work, and computer programming. I leveraged a lot of the skills I learned during my PhD at the first startup I joined, and also continue to use many of them at my current job as a Deep Learning Researcher at Standard Cognition.

The Zoom link was forwarded to the Illinois Physics Grad Student email list. For a copy of the link, please contact Lance Cooper (

link for robots only