"New challenges and thinking about innovative ways to tackle them are a great motivation for me."
Hi Michele, tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to CERN?
I studied physics in Heidelberg. One of the exciting benefits of these studies is that there are few limits of where to go and what to do. I took many opportunities to explore new environments and challenges during research internships in Europe and at the national laboratories of Canada (TRIUMF) and the US (FermiLab). I first came to CERN as a Summer Student, which still counts as one of my best and most memorable experiences. This motivated me to come back as a CERN Technical Student for a longer project. Currently, I am a CERN Doctoral Student for my PhD studies with University of Cambridge.
What do you do at CERN today?
I am part of the LHCb Collaboration, working on the upgrade of the LHCb RICH detectors. These detectors are exploiting the Cherenkov effect for particle identification. I am studying Deep Neural Networks with the goal to improve particle identification in the upgraded experiment. In particular, Convolutional Neural Networks, which are well suited for pattern recognition and identification tasks. The second part of my research focuses on photonic nanocrystals, which have the potential to serve as novel Cherenkov radiators through a resonance transition radiation effect.
What is working at CERN like for you?
Most days are different which I enjoy very much. New challenges and thinking about innovative ways to tackle them are a great motivation for me. What makes CERN a special place are its people. The concentration of expertise in one place has the potential to greatly accelerate one’s research and spark new ideas. The variety of backgrounds and fascinating personalities also offer many opportunities for interesting conversations and new friendships. The surrounding mountains and “Lake Geneva” ensure that life never gets boring, also outside work.
What advice would you give potential applicants?
More important than just grades are practical experience and excitement for a specific research area or experiment, as well as being able to adapt quickly to new scenarios.
This is best exercised and demonstrated through extracurricular activities and internships. Your own motivation letter and the reference letters from former supervisors are good indicators of your motivation and success in dealing with new and challenging projects. So don't hesitate! take part.
Our student opportunities are currently open for applications. Check them out on https://careers.cern/students.