Record breakers

In the sixties, CERN’s Fellows were but a handful of about 50 young experimentalists present on site to complete their training. Today, their number has increased to a record-breaking 500. They come from many different fields and are spread across CERN’s different activity areas.


“Diversifying the Fellowship programme has been the key theme in recent years,” comments James Purvis, Head of the Recruitment, Programmes and Monitoring group in the HR Department. “In particular, the 2005 five-yearly review introduced the notion of ‘senior’ and ‘junior’ Fellowships, broadening the target audience to include those with Bachelor-level qualifications.”

Diversification made CERN’s Fellowship programme attractive to a wider audience but the number of Fellows on site could not have increased so much without the support of EU-funded projects, which were instrumental in the growth of the programme. “Significant EU Marie Curie funding has resulted in many more Fellows,” says Seamus Hegarty, coordinator for Marie Curie Actions at CERN.  “While some Marie Curie Initial Training Networks are now finishing, three new projects – PicoSec, ARDENT and TALENT (for more on the last of these see this week's Bulletin article)  – are starting. They will bring in eleven additional Fellows to CERN.”

The Fellowship programme grew out of the need to provide advanced training for researchers, as stipulated in the CERN Convention. Today, it has evolved into a real career opportunity, appreciated by young experts in different fields and from a variety of countries across Europe and beyond, with 45 different nationalities currently represented. “The selection of Fellows is made by the Associates and Fellows Committee in which all the departments are represented,” says Katharine Thomas-Chevreux, coordinator for Fellows. “The Committee selects candidates on the basis of their excellence and potential.”

The introduction of the Graduate Engineer Training scheme enabled departments to offer even more opportunities in engineering fields. The continuing success of this and the standard CERN Fellowship Programme is crucial and very much appreciated by departments. “The Fellows scheme is particularly suitable for young researchers and engineers on fixed-duration projects, allowing them to start and complete their own projects while at CERN. It has also proven to be a real career stepping stone, with Fellows going on to interesting careers both inside and outside CERN,” concludes James Purvis.

by Antonella Del Rosso