Under the auspices of the CERN & Society Foundation, the ATLAS PhD Grant offers students a unique opportunity to enhance their doctoral studies in a one-of-a-kind research environment under the supervision and training of ATLAS Collaboration experts. Students receive two years of funding for their studies, spending one year at CERN and another back at their home institute.
The grant was established by former ATLAS Spokespersons Fabiola Gianotti and Peter Jenni, using the award money from the Special Fundamental Physics Breakthrough Prizethat they received in 2013. “We wanted to give back something special to ATLAS, the project we had been living with day and nights for decades,” explained Peter Jenni, speaking at the award ceremony. “We remembered our own time as students, working enthusiastically on experimental particle physics and dreaming of future experiments. The impact that working as students at CERN had on us both was decisive. So, we wanted to offer the same opportunity to some of the brightest students – regardless of where they come from – in the stimulating environment of the ATLAS Experiment.”
Reflecting the international character of CERN and the ATLAS Collaboration, there have been 16 nationalities present among the recipients of the ATLAS PhD Grant. Spanning across the world map, from A to Z, they include: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, China, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Nepal, Palestine, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, UK and Zambia.
Now in its seventh year, the ATLAS PhD Grant relies upon private contributions under the framework of the CERN & Society Foundation. Two of this year’s recipients were supported by Bank Lombard Odier & Co., building upon a partnership that began in 2019 to support six ATLAS doctoral students over a three-year period. “We are extremely honoured and pleased to be able to partner for the second year with Bank Lombard Odier. It is a long-standing relationship; one, which we hope, will continue to strengthen. We certainly feel that it is based on common values and objectives,” said Charlotte Warakaulle, CERN Director for International Relations, as she welcomed all participants to the event.
During the ceremony, the newest grant recipients were presented with certificates by Peter Jenni, Deputy-Chair of the CERN & Society Foundation and Alexandre Zeller, Managing Partner of Lombard Odier.“A great number of engineering challenges encountered during the LHC adventure have led to the development of new technologies, which have subsequently been used in other applications in various industries,” explained Alexandre Zeller. “Our firm strongly believes that it is essential to invest in the training of the new generation of researchers for both the advancement of science, and to help resolve society’s current and future challenges.”
Prajita Bhattarai, Hassnae El Jarrari and Albert Kong each gave a short speech of thanks, extracts of which can be read below. You can also watch a recording of the full ceremony, broadcast live on Periscope for the first time this year.
Prajita Bhattarai (Brandeis University, USA)
Growing up, I was always fascinated by particle physics and researching at CERN was my lifelong dream. CERN is a special place to me, not only because of its fundamental research, but also because it is a place where people from all over the world, from many different backgrounds, come together to work towards a common goal. Being myself from a developing country and a non-member state [Nepal], I thought it would be impossible for me to work here. But the ATLAS PhD Grant has made this possible, helping me to fully achieve my career potential. For this, I will always be grateful to the donors, to the selection committee and to my advisor.
Albert Kong (University of Adelaide, Australia)
A year ago, I would never have dreamed that I’d have the opportunity to come to CERN – let alone stay for an entire year. I’m from Australia, one of the most distant nations to be part of CERN’s scientific programme. I’ve always dreamed of making a grand and lasting contribution to science, but I had little idea what this contribution would be like or how to achieve it. Now, however, as a member of the ATLAS Collaboration and a recipient of the ATLAS PhD Grant, I can see that I am much closer to perhaps achieving this dream.
Hassnae El Jarrari (University Mohammed V Rabat, Morocco, and Academia Sinica Taipei, Taiwan)
My interest in physics developed over the years, starting with an early fascination with the wonders of the sky before turning to more complex questions about our Universe. The more I learned, the more questions I had – until I studied particle physics. Suddenly, the picture of our Universe, starting from an energy burst and evolving over time to how we see it today, became clear. My sincerest thanks to Fabiola Gianotti and Peter Jenni for creating this grant, to Lombard Odier for their generous donations, and to the CERN & Society Foundation. I hope the ATLAS PhD Grant programme will continue, so that upcoming generations can benefit from the solid working environment of CERN. I am honoured to receive your support and I will do my best to fulfil the vision of this grant.
Thanks to the support of Bank Lombard Odier & Co., as well as that of many private individuals, the ATLAS PhD Grant Scheme has had the chance to change the lives of students around the globe. Our sincerest gratitude goes to our partners that will allow its impact to continue for years ahead.