Chicago executive profile: Kate Waimey Timmerman of Chicago Quantum Exchange – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Kate Waimey Timmerman, 42, is the executive director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, which fosters partnerships between academia, national labs and industry to promote the science and engineering of quantum information. Timmerman also is a board member of P33, a private initiative fostering Chicago’s tech economy. She lives in Lincoln Park with her husband and their 8-year-old son.

First things first: What’s quantum?

Put very simply, it’s just physics, but at subatomic scales—a single atom or electron.

What’s the excitement?

Besides being really cool, it’s about the impacts that this will have on industries from biotech and banking to transportation and logistics.

Were you always a science nerd?

I think I was born that way. During elementary school in Arizona, we talked about conserving water a lot. One day I decided to go around the house measuring how much water was dripping out of our faucets and being wasted.

Tell us more about your childhood.

I was one of five kids across three moms and two dads. My parents divorced when I was young, and I grew up alternating between L.A. and Phoenix. There were frequent conflicts going on at the parental level, which was very stressful.

How did you react?

I developed ulcers the summer after fourth grade. Eventually, I saw a great therapist.

Was there a positive side?

It taught me resiliency, and it really bonded us kids together.

You were in neuroscience for a decade. Why did you switch to quantum science?

I couldn’t find career opportunities to match my evolving interests. But there are a lot of similarities between the two fields.

Such as?

Some of the quantum sensors that scientists are developing will provide neuroscientists with an unprecedented level of information about the brain, such as cell division and growth. That stuff makes the hair on my arms stand up.

Your super power?

Sleeping. I can pretty much nap anytime, anywhere, thoroughly bugging those in the family who didn’t inherit this talent.

Your favorite app?

My Apple podcast app. Right now I’m listening to “The Bomb” on the BBC, and “The Daily” from the New York Times is part of my morning routine, but I’ll never say no to political or true-crime podcasts.