EPLANET: the Europe-Latin America alliance for physics research and education

Twenty-nine partner institutions participate in EPLANET – the EU-funded project aimed at strengthening the links between the physics communities in Europe and Latin America. The project will help the Latin-American scientific community to reach and consolidate the critical scientific mass, and profit from the educational, technological and industrial impact of high-energy physics.


Officially launched in February 2011, EPLANET has now reached its “cruising-speed” with the first ten scientists arriving at CERN in June and July from Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The first ten EPLANET participants will stay at CERN for 39 months; they are involved in the ATLAS and CMS experiments.

In the four-year lifetime of the project, CERN will welcome around 256 scientists for a total of 956 months from Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. In total, EPLANET will provide 379 grants (equivalent to 1203 months) to junior and senior scientists from Latin American countries to be detached and involved in scientific and educational activities taking place here and in the other European Institutions involved in the programme. EPLANET will also give 476 short-duration grants (600 months in total) to European scientists for activities at the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina and in other Latin American institutions.

The scope of EPLANET is to support short exchanges (1-2 months) for senior researchers, and longer exchanges (2-12 months) for junior investigators – providing support for a total of about 1800 months. The project will support the mobility of Early Stage Researchers (ESR) and Experienced Researchers (ER) to the installations where most of the research work in high-energy physics is taking place, such as the LHC and the Pierre Auger Observatory. The programme also addresses technological developments in medical physics related to high-energy physics. “EPLANET aims at fostering a sustainable collaboration between Europe and Latin America in high-energy physics and associated technologies,” says José Salicio-Diez, who co-ordinates the participation of CERN in EPLANET. “The scientific results obtained thanks to this programme will go in parallel with advanced training and acquisition of new technologies in accelerator and detector physics, medical physics and computing.”

At CERN, Latin American researchers will be involved in projects that will range from analysing data from the LHC for signatures of new physics; working on simulation studies; and also designing, prototyping, and tests of components for the CLIC study. Other tasks include the optimization and validation of the simulation software used to design quality assurance detectors for medical physics applications, and the development of the ROOT data analysis system.

In addition to allowing the mobility of scientists from west to east, EPLANET also represents an opportunity for European physicists to experience more closely the increasing vitality of the Latin American scientific community. About one-third of the programme's funds will support the mobility of Europeans to institutions in Latin America. “With EPLANET we hope to repeat and even improve on the success obtained by HELEN, the CERN-born project that has supported Europe-Latin American scientific exchanges since 2005. The variety and number of the institutions now involved in EPLANET will play a key-role in the success of the programme,” concludes José Salicio-Diez.

by CERN Bulletin