The non-Member State (NMS) PhD Studentship Scheme provides young, high-calibre PhD students with the opportunity to participate in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments, in addition to other scientific and technological activities in the CERN programme. The scheme offers students in particle physics, applied physics, information technology (IT), computing and engineering from NMS a unique chance to deepen their knowledge in a truly unique organisation. They will get involved in world-famous experiments and accelerator projects of unprecedented scale and scope and will bring new skills and a range of expertise back to their home countries and regions.

How it started:

The original programme, the “ATLAS PhD Grant Scheme”, was founded in 2014 by Fabiola Gianotti and Peter Jenni, former ATLAS spokespersons, who donated the Fundamental Physics Special Breakthrough Prize awarded for their leading role in the discovery of the Higgs boson. Now, after many successful years, and thanks to the pilot scheme for doctoral studentships for students from CERN NMS, the programme has evolved into this new initiative.

The Studentship Scheme:

Selected candidates receive a studentship to work towards a PhD thesis while spending up to two years at CERN, at the forefront of science, over the full period of their PhD studies.

Our objectives:

  •  Provide opportunities for young, high-calibre PhD students in particle physics, applied physics, IT, computing and engineering to obtain world-class exposure, supervision and training in CERN experiments and accelerator projects.
  • Deliver on CERN’s capacity-building target by providing training in the fields of particle physics and related areas.
  • Give students the chance to bring new skills and a range of expertise back to their home countries and regions.
  • Boost participation in the LHC/High-Luminosity LHC and future major projects at CERN.
  • Give students in countries with limited exposure to CERN the chance to become CERN ambassadors.

Eligibility and qualifications:

All NMS nationalities are eligible to apply to the NMS PhD Studentship Scheme; you can find the list here.

Since diversity and inclusion are an integral part of CERN’s mission and are established values of the Organization, priority will be given to students studying in developing countries or regions and to those studying in countries and regions with developing particle physics communities.

To qualify for a place, PhD students will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in university and have completed at least one year of PhD studies.
  • Have already have agreed on their thesis subject with their home university or are looking for one.
  • Have a good knowledge of English and/or French.

Responsibility for full PhD supervision and awarding of the degree lies with the home university; daily co-supervision while at CERN is by a CERN staff member.

Application period:

Please note that the application period has expired on 30 August 2023 CEST .

The programme for PhD students from non-Member states is only possible thanks to generous donations from individuals, companies and foundations.

Support the scientists of tomorrow by making a donation now!

Reaching new audiences by ‘going where the people are’


The CERN festival programme is a way to spread CERN’s spirit of curiosity to the world by interacting with people where they are, reaching out to current and future social and cultural influencers.

With a Science Pavilion present at different music festivals around the world, the project is designed to reach national populations at large, including audiences that are not necessarily interested or attracted by the scientific domain, and with the ultimate goal to encourage people’s interest in STEM and attract future scientific talents. 

The Festival Programme is unique in several ways: 

  1. It takes place at music and culture festivals.
  2. It targets members of the public that do not usually go to scientific events and would be unlikely to travel to CERN. 
  3. It presents science activities for all ages and knowledge in the form of talks, shows and workshops.

Born in 2016, with a first Science Pavilion at a festival in the UK, that attracted 4500 people in 3 days of festival. In 2019, the programme already reached 4 festivals in 4 different countries with more than 20.000 participants at the Science Pavilion!

Impact on society:

  • Fostering awareness about science.
  • Proving that science, and more particularly basic scientific concepts, are accessible to all if explained and demonstrated in plain language and in an engaging way.
  • Explaining the need, value and impact of science on society.   
  • Taking the opportunity to bring CERN to a broader range of audiences by explaining what physicists, engineers and technicians are doing at CERN.
  • For a young audience, providing information and advice about scientific matters, education etc. (experience has shown that some parents were surprised to discover their children’s curiosity and passion for science), and possibly seeding the next generation of scientists.

Do you believe in science and in the importance of spreading scientific knowledge all around the globe? 

Support the CERN Festival programme with a donation and inspire the scientists of tomorrow, we need young brilliant minds to overcome the main global challenges that we are facing nowadays. 


Biology Dynamics Modeller

Many of the technologies that are developed for purely scientific purposes in pursuit of CERN’s fundamental research mission have great potential to directly impact and benefit society at large.

One such technology that could tackle various global needs is the Biology Dynamics Modeller (BioDynaMo): open source, agent-based, simulation software that was originally designed to simulate the behaviour of billions of cells. Agent-based modelling (ABM) is a powerful methodology for studying complex systems in biology, epidemiology, economics, social sciences, medicine and more.

The main advantage of BioDynaMo compared to other, similar, tools is that it has been heavily optimised to take full advantage of modern (multi-core and GPU) hardware and can greatly reduce simulation time, thus allowing researchers to simulate several scenarios in a reasonable time frame. The BioDynaMo project draws on CERN’s experience in large-scale computing. More specifically, CERN’s experience in running large-scale open source projects and its know-how in code modernisation and hardware acceleration were essential to developing the high-performance simulation engine that forms the core of BioDynaMo.

These features have convinced many labs to switch to running their simulations using BioDynaMo. Moreover, during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, CERN launched a collaboration with the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva to adapt BioDynaMo to run simulations on the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus through a

CERN is now raising funds to use BioDynaMo to address three highly relevant societal needs:

The project will also contribute to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): good health and well-being (SDG 3), industry innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and partnership for the goals (SDG 17).

If you want to find out more, visit or

If you are interested in supporting this programme, contact us at


At the forefront of scientific research and innovation, CERN unites people from all over the world to push the frontiers of science and technology for the benefit of all. Over the years, CERN’s research has been bringing real world changes in society, and we aim to keep doing that for generations to come.

The CERN Technology Impact Fund is a new framework to support CERN technologies with a strong potential to address existing global societal issues, as identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Under this mechanism, the CERN Knowledge Transfer group identifies promising CERN technologies and, with the help of the CERN & Society Foundation, increases their maturity to reach concrete applications in support of UN SDGs.


CERN Technology Impact Fund projects aim to bridge the gap between the technological outputs of CERN’s research and their end applications in a way that will address existing global or local societal challenges – particularly those identified in the UN SDGs.


An effective partnership between multiple actors is essential to ensure the success of this endeavour. If you wish to support the CERN Technology Impact Fund or learn more about how you can be involved, please Contact Us.

These are the projects that are currently being developed:

Sparks! Forum launch
CERN is launching an annual two-day multidisciplinary science innovation forum and public event- Sparks! (Image: CERN)


With the support of the CERN & Society Foundation, CERN launched an annual two-day multidisciplinary science innovation forum and public event. Sparks!, the serendipity forum at CERN, will bring together renowned scientists from diverse fields around the world, along with decision-makers, representatives of industry, philanthropists, ethicists, and the public to bring a novel, multi-faceted approach to addressing some of the big questions of our time

The aim is to foster a new community and develop a platform to spark innovation in issues related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics that are relevant to society, necessary for CERN, and that further CERN’s mission of science for peace

Now more than ever, today’s complex problems require knowledge from more than just one field. Multidisciplinary discussion and collaboration is essential, yet few platforms exist offering opportunities for such interaction. As a center of excellence in science and technology, and one of the largest centers of collaborative research in the world, CERN can establish itself as the place where these multidisciplinary discussions take place.

Our mission is to develop a community and a platform to Spark Innovation in STEM issues that are relevant to society and align with CERN’s mission of science for peace.


Sparks! launched on 26th November 2020 and will continue with a cycle of three pilot events from 2021 to 2023, each focusing on a single theme to test the concept. The theme for this first edition in 2021 is Future Intelligence. Visit for more details

Footage from inside the new MEDICIS facilety of ISOLDE, showing the new robot and train system that will be used for handeling the MEDICIS targets. (Video: CERN)


Innovative ideas and technologies from physics have contributed to great advances in the field of medicine over the last 100 years, since the advent of radiation-based medical diagnosis and treatment and following the discovery of X-rays and radioactivity.

Radioisotopes are already widely used by the medical community for imaging, diagnosis and radiation therapy. However, many of those currently used do not combine the most appropriate physical and chemical properties and therefore do not target tumours closely enough. In some cases, a different type of radiation could be better suited. 

CERN-MEDICIS (Medical Isotopes Collected from ISOLDE) is a unique facility designed to produce radioisotopes with the right properties to enhance the precision of both patient imaging and treatment, and provide the opportunity to radically improve the success of cancer treatment. It will expand the range of radioisotopes available for medical research – some of which can be produced only at CERN – and send them to hospitals and research centres in Switzerland and across Europe for further study. 

Great strides have been made recently in the use of radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment, and MEDICIS will enable researchers to devise and test unconventional radioisotopes with a view to developing new approaches to fight cancer.

CERN-MEDICIS demonstrates again how CERN technologies can benefit society beyond their use for our fundamental research. With its unique facilities and expertise, CERN is committed to maximising the impact of CERN technologies in our everyday lives.
- Frédérick Bordry, former CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology
Whenever I think about my experience at CERN, I can’t help but smile. I feel honoured to be able to immerse myself in this world where questions know no bounds, and everyone shares my deep passion for physics.
- Riana Shaba, summer student 2023, from Albania

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The need:

Well-trained scientists and engineers play a vital role in a nation’s economy. The Summer Student programme gives the next generation of scientists the chance to gain hands-on experience working on an advanced technical project in a scientific team at CERN. It provides students with a unique opportunity to work in a multicultural environment in one of the biggest global scientific laboratories.

The project:

Over a period of eight weeks, students from around the world will attend a series of specially prepared lectures, in which experts and scientists will share their knowledge about a wide range of topics in the fields of theoretical and experimental particle physics, engineering, computing and technology. Visits to CERN facilities, as well as discussion sessions and workshops, are also key features of the programme. 

The impact:

With the Summer Student programme, CERN aims to train promising young students in STEM subjects, regardless of their gender, race, religion or background. Besides the scientific value of the programme, by providing students from all over the world with equal access to scientific education, CERN creates a space in which different cultures can come together in harmony, fostering discussion and understanding across borders.

By creating a diversity-friendly environment, CERN helps students to thrive in science. The benefits of the high-level training they receive are felt in turn by their home nations, as the students contribute to the scientific knowledge capital of their countries. Additionally, they return home with a range of valuable contacts to enlarge the network of potential future collaborators, contributing to international scientific and cultural diplomacy.

In 2022, CERN hosted 120 students from 59 countries around the globe, selected from among 1086 applicants. Since 2003, nearly 1600 students have participated in the programme. The programme also attracts students from various disciplines (physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, IT, etc.), which allows for greater variety within each cohort and promotes knowledge sharing.




[The School] gave me the framework and concrete tools to take back to my country to make a positive impact, and also to enhance my future work in digital librarianship
- Olufunmilayo Fati, 2016 Participant, from Nigeria.

The CERN- UNESCO Schools on Digital Libraries initiative is a week-long training session for librarians and IT specialists at research institutions in Africa. These sessions are followed up by a more in-depth training for selected participants at CERN. Up to 30 participants learn how to replace expensive and quickly outdated hard copies of publications with digital versions, and to use up-to-date information technologies to promote the global sharing of information. In particular, participants are taught how to use the Invenio digital library software, a free open source tool for digital library management developed at CERN.

These Schools help participants become familiar with all principles related to open access and open knowledge, as well as giving practical solutions for setting up and running digital libraries. Our ambition is to enable increased access to information for African researchers, to make African research more visible to the rest of the world.


Since 2009, 5 schools have been organized across Africa with 15+ countries represented and 120 participants.

Photos of the massive ATLAS art mural at point 01 at CERN by Josef Kristofoletti, completed.
fr (Image: CERN)
When looking for funding for my PhD, I found limited opportunities for students from Latin America. Thankfully, the ATLAS PhD Grant has no such nationality restrictions and I was very lucky to have this opportunity.
- Santiago Paredes Saenz, Ecuador, ATLAS PhD Grantee 2017


The ATLAS PhD Grant Scheme encourages young, talented and motivated PhD students in particle physics, research and computing for physics. The scheme offers students a unique opportunity to enhance their studies in a world-class research environment under the supervision and training of ATLAS collaboration experts.

How it started:

Fabiola Gianotti and Peter Jenni, former ATLAS spokespersons, received in 2013 the Fundamental Physics Special Breakthrough Prize for their leadership role in the discovery of the Higgs boson. They donated their share of the Prizemoney towards creating a Grant scheme, for which the first students were selected in 2014.



The Grant:

Selected candidates receive a stipend to spend one year at CERN followed by one year at their host institute. Students work as research physicists within the ATLAS collaboration, as part of the work required to obtain their PhDs. During their time at CERN, students receive daily supervision from ATLAS scientists.

Our objectives:

  • to offer a unique educational opportunity to outstanding students to meet and work with world-class specialists at ATLAS;
  • to fuel the spirit of scientific curiosity and take the students one step closer to their own scientific discoveries;
  • to engage home universities and ensure they guide their students successfully to a PhD degree;
  • to strengthen scientific collaboration across the world and bring home institutes, ATLAS and CERN closer together