ATLAS welcomes a new Palestinian student

Mahmoud Ibrahim Alstaty, from near Jenin, is starting a PhD studentship at CERN, where he will be working on the new inner layer of the ATLAS pixel detector. He joins a growing number of other Palestinian researchers who are working at CERN.


Mahmoud Ibrahim Alstaty.

Mahmoud Alstaty's PhD scholarship is supported by the Sharing Knowledge Foundation. In 2013, Robert Klapisch, president of the foundation and former Director of Research at CERN, signed a framework agreement with CERN to open the Doctoral Student programme to countries from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Mahmoud is the second student to benefit from such an opportunity, following Mohamed Gouighri from Morocco. “Mahmoud will work on the ATLAS experiment on the commissioning and performance of the new inner layer of the pixel detector (IBL) and on the search for new physics, including leptons in the final state, under the supervision of Fares Djama and myself”, says Pascal Pralavorio from Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CPPM) and Aix-Marseille University, which will deliver the diploma. “The IBL will strengthen ATLAS’s potential for physics discoveries and measurements during run 2. Mahmoud’s work will demonstrate the ability of the IBL to reach this goal,” says Fares Djama.

Mahmoud joins a number of other Palestinian researchers who have already participated in CERN’s student programmes. “The first of these was Muhammad Alhroub, currently a post-doc supported by the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, who first came to CERN as a summer student in 2007 and subsequently obtained his PhD from Bonn University, also while working on ATLAS,” recalls John Ellis, a former CERN theorist who was in charge of relations with non-Member States at that time. Following this first successful experience, CERN welcomed another Palestinian summer student in 2008 - Arwa Bannoura, who is now working towards her PhD at Wuppertal University - and another PhD student working in the ATLAS collaboration - Ahmed Bassalat, a summer student in 2011, from the Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire (LAL) in Orsay. “For the 2014 summer student programme, CERN will offer two students from Birzeit University in Ramallah and the An-Najah National University in Nablus the opportunity to participate in the ATLAS experiment,” says Patrick Fassnacht, advisor to the Director-General for the MENA. “It is hoped that these young researchers will help form the core of a Palestinian team in the ATLAS collaboration, a goal being supported actively by CERN and the ICTP.”

Motivation is certainly not something Mahmoud is lacking.  "I am so excited to be at CERN, and I am sure that the experience I will gain here during my stay will boost my scientific career and widen my horizons. I hope to honour Palestine at CERN and to contribute to a fruitful cooperation between Palestine and CERN in the future," he concludes.

by Antonella Del Rosso