March 1, 2024

Stories of CERN women in science

CERN celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by shedding light on the variety of careers for women in STEM.

Every year on February 11, CERN celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, shedding light on the variety of career paths for women in STEM. This year, we asked nine women scientists to share their stories with us and tell us what inspired them to pursue a STEM career and what their favorite memories involving science are.

Sorina, CMS experiment physicist

Sorina is a Romanian research physicist from the CMS experiment, who works on heavy ion research.

“What I like most about my work is data analysis, as well as developing and installing detectors. I am very happy when I can work with students. The most rewarding part is when I see their careers as physicists evolve.”

Jenny, PhD student in the ATLAS experiment

Jenny Lunde, in a clean room working on pixel chips for the ATLAS detector

Jenny is a Norwegian PhD student at the University of Oslo. She is currently working on upgrading the pixel detector for the ATLAS experiment.

Science was her favorite subject in school, which inspired her to pursue a career in STEM. “My curiosity for science began with what we can see in our daily lives, for example, how yeast makes bread dough rise, how a candle flame goes out if it loses access to oxygen, or how nature It changes with the seasons.”

Pinelopi, PhD student with the Medipix collaboration

Pinelopi, PhD student at the Medipix chip laboratory

Pinelopi is a PhD student in collaboration with Medipix. Medipix chips developed for pixel detectors at the LHC are now used in a variety of fields, including medical imaging.

It was her family and her high school experiences that inspired Pinelopi to pursue a career in STEM. “My mother studied physics, so I wanted to be like her, while my father loves exploring ideas and thinking outside the box. When I was a high school student, I visited CERN with my class and was amazed by everything. My dream was to one day return as a physicist.”

Federica, PhD student at the LHCb experiment

Federica, PhD student on the LHCb experiment, cabling in the experiment's underground room.

Federica is an Italian particle physics PhD student working on heavy ion physics at the LHCb experiment. She is currently involved in putting the VELO detector into service.

Federica has always been curious about science and knew from an early age that she would pursue a career in STEM. Her favorite memory involving science dates back to high school, when two physicists from CERN visited her class to give a masterclass. “They built us a handmade cloud chamber, out of things you would find in the kitchen, to detect cosmic ray particles. And I fell in love with particle physics!” remembers Federica.

Joni, physicist of the ATLAS experiment

Joni, is eating in front of a computer inside the ATLAS control room

Joni, a Vietnamese physicist at the University of Melbourne, mainly focuses on analyzing data from heavy ion collisions in the ATLAS experiment. She is also involved in the operation of the ATLAS detector.

Joni is passionate about science communication and education activities, especially for the younger generation. His passion for science was sparked by his curiosity to explore – in his own words – “worlds that are physically inaccessible and invisible to the naked eye, such as atoms and subatomic particles”.

Joni shared with us a glimpse of one of her first big moments at CERN: “When I started working as a race control shifter, I was very nervous, but the shift leader, Clara Nellist, was very kind and supportive of the entire team. Now that I have become a shift leader, I am truly grateful to Clara and everyone I had the opportunity to work with at CERN, who constantly encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone.”

Lívia, postdoctoral student in the ALICE experiment

Livia, ALICE physicist, inside the underground room of her experiment

Livia, an Italian physicist, supervises the operation of the ALICE experiment’s muon spectrometer. It is also researching and developing silicon detectors for the upcoming ALICE detector upgrade.

Since high school, Lívia has always been a science enthusiast. Experiments in her school laboratory and her passion for research convinced Livia to pursue a career in STEM.

When we asked Lívia about her favorite moments at work, she didn’t hesitate: “The incredible and fun time I spent in the ALICE control room, waiting for the LHC beam to arrive, while preparing the detectors for data collection. The most fun for me is doing research and development on particle physics detectors, building them from scratch and then seeing them installed in the experimental caves.”

Tetiana, physicist of the ATLAS experiment

Tetiana, ATLAS physicist, in front of a model of the ATLAS detector

Tetiana is a Ukrainian physicist at the Annecy Particle Physics Laboratory in France who works on the ATLAS experiment. She works on upgrading the electronics of an ATLAS calorimeter. She is also looking for phenomena beyond the Standard Model.

When we asked what inspired her to pursue a career in STEM, Tetiana told us it was an obvious choice for her as everyone in her family was a scientist or engineer. “I decided to do a PhD in physics and mathematics when I was 10 years old.”

His favorite science memory from childhood is growing “beautiful blue crystals from copper sulfate. They were growing on the kitchen windowsill of my house in Kharkiv, next to pots of chives.”

Deepti, North Area Consolidation project engineer

Deepti, a scientist at CERN, in front of her computer

Deepti is an Indian engineer working on the project to consolidate experimental facilities in the CERN Northern Area.

Deepti has always been intrigued by the basic principles of science and their everyday usefulness. Her affinity for STEM continued to grow over the years and she decided to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.

“During my childhood, I was fascinated by the buoyancy, gravity, density and displacement of water as I watched paper boats floating in the water. When I was a child, I learned how to make paper boats and place them in running water during the monsoon season in India.”

Alicia, PhD student in the field of accelerators

Alicia, a PhD student, pictured behind a model of the LHC magnet

Alicia is a Spanish PhD student working on developing an ultrafast generator for special magnets used in CERN accelerators.

During her engineering studies, she most enjoyed being in the laboratory, which inspired her to choose this path.

“When I still lived in Madrid, I attended a secondary school that was very close to the Student Residence [student housing] and I loved that place: the buildings are beautiful, the garden that surrounds it, everything. And then I read a discreet sign that said this was also a historic site of the European Physical Society. Marie Curie was there, Einstein too… This may have influenced my choice of course!” says Alicia.

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