Louis Taillefer

Superconducting Materials, physics of electrons, crystals, metals, ceramics

World expert on superconductivity

"Follow your intuition. In my own experience, this has always paid off."

So You Want to Be a Physicist


It was pure chance that Louis Taillefer became a physicist. He simply accepted a scholarship to study mining engineering at McGill University. “If some other place had given me an award in biology, I would have gone there,” he says. At McGill he soon switched to geophysics, but he enjoyed the fundamental science so much that he ultimately graduated with an honours degree in pure physics. Taillefer likes to tell young people, “Go in some direction, but don’t feel you need to be stuck there. Go with your intuition and change, readjust to what interests you. Feel free to switch to subjects where you feel more at home.”

As a graduate student, Taillefer’s quest for more relevant research brought out Gil Lonzarich’s passion for theoretical work on magnetism. This in turn inspired the young Taillefer to discover something essential in the natural world. Now that Taillefer himself supervises graduate students, he finds it to be the most satisfying part of his job as a university professor for the same reason. Seeing students find their own path is a wonderful feeling for him, and the only way this happens is if he gives them the freedom to do so. “The key point is that people must go where they feel their inspiration,” says Taillefer. “I give my students the freedom to develop as independent scientists but also to follow their destiny as individuals.”


Typical physics careers include specialties in electronics, communications, aerospace, remote sensing, biophysics, nuclear, optical, plasma or solid state physics, astrophysics and cosmology. Some physicists concentrate on experiments, while others prefer theory alone.

Career ideas:

  • research scientist, physics
  • research scientist, electronics
  • research scientist, communications
  • research scientist, aerospace
  • research scientist, remote sensing
  • nuclear physicist
  • optics physicist
  • plasma physicist
  • solid state physicist
  • astrophysicist
  • cosmologist
  • experimental physicist

Other scientists who may be of interest:

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