"CERN changed my life". Meet Daniel, Doctoral student from Romania

The best aspect about CERN is its people

Hello Daniel! Tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to CERN?

Greetings! I’m Daniel, I come from Romania and have studied in various locations throughout Europe. CERN changed my life, in quite a literal manner. Some of my colleagues can pinpoint exactly when they heard about CERN for the first time and how they knew immediately this is their dream place to be. However, this was not the case for me, but I developed a passion for CERN slowly over time, as I was hearing all the fantastic news about the Organization. 

And so, after having applied for three years, I was selected as a CERN Summer Student in 2019. This came during my second semester as a Master student at the Technical University of Münich, at which point I was rather confused with my future perspectives, and CERN came to the rescue.

What do you do at CERN today?

After my Summer studentship, I came back as a Technical Student and presently, I am a Doctoral student in Applied Physics in the Radiation to Electronics (R2E) project. Our team uses several tools for the assessment of radiation damage to the devices and the accelerator equipment, but I am employing mainly the Monte Carlo code FLUKA, developed in-house at CERN, with a focus on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

What is working at CERN like for you?

I used to think that “loving your workplace” was some sort of propaganda. Although I acknowledge this is not always the case, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to say that I genuinely enjoy almost everything that CERN has to offer as an employer. Practicalities aside, it is extremely rewarding to be able to work on novel technologies and to have the feeling of researching something new every day. The best aspect about CERN though is its people: in my humble opinion, the enthusiasm shared among each other is what pushes us forward every day.

What have been the main hurdles or challenges you encountered along the way?

All in all, I have been quite prepared to move to a new place where I do not even speak the language, since I have already done it twice before. The main challenge came last year, when the vibrant CERN atmosphere and the lively discussions had to be dropped because of the pandemic. Everything moved online and it was a bit tough to keep it together, but the enthusiasm for science knows no limits.

What advice would you give potential applicants?

From my perspective, the key when applying for a role at CERN is to tailor your profile to a specific job while keeping it general enough such that other supervisors might see how you can potentially fit their projects as well. But above all, I would say that your application has to radiate enthusiasm for science and for CERN!

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Daniel