In 2019, I joined the ATLAS Early Career Scientist Board (ECSB): a special advisory group dedicated to assisting the ATLAS Collaboration in building an environment where the full scientific potential of scientists at the start of their career can be realised. The board organises several activities for the ATLAS community (you may have seen all of our summer activities described in this blog). I was actively involved in the winter activities. They were all fantastic experiences to improve social relationships in a 5000-people collaboration.
Winter in Geneva can be tough. However, for the third year in a row, the ECSB cooked up one of its most famous recipes: Meet-And-Eat (link internal). From 11 November to 13 December 2019, junior and senior ATLAS members had a chance to have one-on-one lunch meetings at the CERN cafeteria or over video chat. PhD students and junior Post-Doctoral researchers (PostDocs) were randomly matched to a senior ATLAS member, giving them an opportunity to meet with someone with a vast experience to be shared. This event was the perfect time to share doubts on their future in the field and to receive career advice from someone who has gone through the same path. There were so many interesting anecdotes senior ATLAS academics also enjoyed sharing with the next generation. Additionally, ATLAS members had the opportunity to get to know colleagues and students who are not part of their working groups.
This winter recipe included a “fork” of topics (see "recipe" on right), in case conversation ever got stuck. I myself registered for past events and received useful advice for future applications… as well as a free dessert!
In order to be more inclusive, the 2019 recipe came also with a Skype variation. A total of 32 senior PostDocs and academics and 58 students and junior PostDocs participated in the 2019 Meet And Eat. Judging from the food critic, both the recipe and its variation were well received.
Last November, the ECSB also launched a new winter recipe: a series of networking events. At each event, international experts would focus on a specific topic in career development, and host a question and answer session. Topics covered include CV organisation, grant writing, importance of networking, negotiations for a new job, interview preparation, science communication, etc.
On 6 November 2019, 56 ATLAS members received useful suggestions on how to write a good grant proposal by Pablo Tello, Section Head of the EU Support Group (Development of EU Projects & Initiatives, CERN). The material for this first event is available here. A round table was also organised with three ATLAS members who were awarded with or were in the decision panel for research grants: Kerstin Tackman, David Strom and Sinead Farrington. Remote participation was possible. The event was highly appreciated by young ATLAS members.
Mouth watering? If you found some interesting ingredients in the ECSB winter recipes, follow us on our webpage (link internal) or Facebook page for the 2020 summer recipes. Stay tuned, since the 2020 Meet-And-Eat and the next networking event could include a delicious dessert!
After one year, I can say joining the ECSB has been one of the best decisions I have made as a member of ATLAS. It has changed my understanding of the collaboration. ATLAS is not only an industry for scientific papers. It’s a community of more than 5000 people where social interactions are key to successfully publishing all the physics results.