Meet the talented recipients of the 2017 ATLAS PhD Grant

Meet the talented recipients of the 2017 ATLAS PhD Grant

Mon, 20/03/2017 - 15:41


by Katarina Anthony

Motivated. Outstanding. Enthusiastic. These are the criteria used when selecting the recipients of the ATLAS PhD Grant. It’s a tough competition.

Now in its fourth year, the Grant gives doctoral students an opportunity to benefit from world-class research, supervision and training within the ATLAS collaboration. The students receive two years of funding for their studies, spending one year at CERN and another back at their home institute.

On Tuesday 14 February, the 2017 ATLAS PhD Grant recipients were presented with certificates at a small ceremony in CERN's Building 40. It was a chance for Chilufya Mwewa (University of Cape Town), Santiago Paredes Saenz (University of Oxford) and Giulia Ripellino (KTH Royal Institute of Technology) to meet the committee members and share stories with the previous year’s recipients.

The ATLAS PhD Grant was established by former ATLAS spokespersons Fabiola Gianotti and Peter Jenni, who created the fund with Fundamental Physics Prize award money they received in 2013. The Grant is a time-limited fund, sustained over the years thanks to the generous support of private donors and sponsors. In order to welcome three more students next year, new donations are crucial. Visit the CERN & Society website to find out how you can contribute.


Chilufya Mwewa. (Image: S. Biondi/ATLAS Experiment)

Chilufya Mwewa (University of Cape Town)

Born in Zambia, where she also did her undergraduate studies, Chilufya attended the African School of Physics in 2010. “That was my first exposure to the incredible world of particle physics,” she says. “It was also where I learned about high-energy physics opportunities in African universities.” Chilufya went on to speak about the support she received from her professors, all of whom encouraged her to pursue a career in particle physics.

“I'm really thankful for the opportunity this grant has given me,” says Chilufya. “I'm now able to work in close collaboration with various ATLAS personnel within the CERN environment, which I really appreciate.“ For her thesis, Chilufya will be carrying out a same-sign WW analysis in the ATLAS Standard Model electroweak subgroup. In addition, she will be working on validation studies for the ATLAS New Small Wheel software.

Santiago Paredes Saenz (Image: S. Biondi/ATLAS Experiment)

Santiago Paredes Saenz (University of Oxford)

When looking for funding for his PhD, Santiago found limited opportunities for students from Latin America. “My university suggested that I’d apply for the ATLAS PhD Grant, which has no such nationality restrictions,” says Santiago, who is from Ecuador. “To be honest, I thought it was a long-shot. I was very honoured to be selected!”

Santiago will be carrying out a di-Higgs search within the ATLAS Exotics group for his thesis, and is also working on the jet missing-energy trigger for his qualification task. “It is quite challenging work, but I’m really enjoying it,” he concludes.

Giulia Ripellino (Image: S. Biondi/ATLAS Experiment)

Giulia Ripellino (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

“One of the great advantages of this scheme is the year spent at CERN,” says Giulia. “As I learned during my experience as a Summer Student, there is nothing to compare with the atmosphere of CERN. You can easily meet with people, ask questions and feel more involved in the day-to-day work of the collaboration.”

“I also really appreciate the multinational environment,” she continues. “I am of both Swedish and Italian descent, and it is really great to see people from lots of different countries all working together.” Giulia is carrying out a supersymmetry search for her thesis, having also worked on the alignment of the ATLAS Inner Detector.