CMS prepares for new challenges

One of the world’s largest physics experiments has just had a change in leadership. This is a chance for the collaboration to take stock of the tremendous work done for LS1 and to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.


From left to right: Kerstin Borras, Tiziano Camporesi and Paris Sphicas.

“The keyword is teamwork. That’s the only way you can effectively manage a large number of extremely talented and motivated people,” says Tiziano Camporesi who took the reins of the CMS collaboration at the beginning of the year. The recipe might seem easier on paper than in practice. However, given his 28 years at CERN, two of which he spent as the head of the DELPHI collaboration, Camporesi has extensive experience in managing large scientific collaborations and success in this respect is well within his reach: “I have learned many lessons from the past and I believe that building consensus is instrumental to successful leadership.”

The CMS collaboration has more than 2,500 participating members from 182 institutions distributed all over the planet. About 30% of the contributions come from the US. New CMS Deputy Spokesperson Paris Sphicas, currently a senior CERN staff physicist and professor at the University of Athens, was working in the US when, in his words, “US physicists started to look east in 1994.” He continues: “Today, CMS is a truly global endeavour. Despite the complexity of the challenges, we have performed extremely well. Now the challenge is to perform at least as well as we have done so far!”

During LS1, the CMS experiment has gone through quite a major facelift. “Along with the scheduled repair work, we have improved the muon detection capability by adding new layers to the muon detectors in order to better cover a larger zone,” explains Camporesi. “We have also redesigned our data acquisition system, the trigger system and the offline analysis structure.”

Everything seems ready for the LHC restart scheduled in less than a year’s time. “We already know what we should expect: the new data will be much more difficult to analyse because of the tougher environment characterised by higher energy, increased pile-up of events and multiplicity,” says Kerstin Borras, senior scientist at the DESY laboratory in Germany and new CMS Deputy Spokesperson. “We will have to be much more efficient than we were in the first run. If new physics exists, we expect to be able to see interesting signals already in the first weeks of running.”

Next January, the members of the CMS collaboration will be among the first scientists in the world to look at the most distant universe with a lens never used before. The excitement is tangible but so is the feeling that this is “just” a step towards further development. A large part of the collaboration is already working on the major upgrades that will redesign the CMS detector in preparation for the second phase of the LHC (HL-LHC). “We rely on young people to build the future of the collaboration,” concludes Camporesi. “The very talented young collaborators are our roots. We, the top Management, are replaceable, but they are not.”

Please watch the video interview with the CMS Management by Achintya Rao:

by Antonella Del Rosso