Jiri Kral, fellow delegate

Name: Jiri Kral
Age: 33
Works in: BE-BI-PI
Contract: Fellow

The first time I came to CERN was in 2004 as a 3rd year university student on a field trip. The sole memory I have retained to these days is a view of the enormous and empty ATLAS cavern. Yet the trip made a huge impression on me, since, still in the same year, I joined the ALICE experiment and was charged with the development of a controls system for its Silicon Drift Detector. It was only two years later, in 2007, when the drifts were moved from Torino to CERN that I physically came to the Organization for my PhD. I switched universities from Czech Technical University to the University of Jyväskylä, but remained in ALICE as a physicist, developing its electromagnetic calorimeter trigger and working on ion data analyses. My journey through CERN continues as a fellow, and I’m also hoping to inspire some of the youngsters to follow in my path, now that I actually have something to tell and to show them when they come to visit CERN.

As a user, I admit that I was ignorant of the Organization’s inner functioning. All seemed fine and complete, as long as canteens served food, electricity and Internet were switched on, and the LHC took a day off every now and then, so we could access and fix our detector. This changed dramatically with the start of the fellow position in the Beams Department. Aside from doing my job, I was sticking my nose into someone else's job and trying to learn whatever and wherever, and became interested in whom, or what, I work for. I wanted to understand the Organization, and once the understanding is built, to help shape it. This is where the Staff Association (SA) comes in, as there is no better place to start to explore the CERN machinery than from inside the SA.

I happily joined the SA and was elected shortly after to be one of the two delegates for the fellows, following SA's move to try to attract more fellows to its ranks and into decision making roles. There are over 600 fellows at CERN, which is not a negligible number compared with the 2500 staff members. Yet, there were only two candidates for the two open seats in the Staff Council. This fact will define, at least for some time, what I do in the SA. The SA goes into an uncharted territory to include more of us fellows, so it is important first to learn how to inform them and to map their needs and interests. As the fellow population is fluctuating by definition, it is crucial to learn to attract their attention. Developing efficient methods of addressing fellows would help a great deal in the case of the ever changing group. Majority of fellows will continue their careers outside CERN, but some of them, maybe 20%, will stay for an important part of their working life. It is in the fellows' interest to be able to participate in shaping their current or future place of work.

The SA is very welcoming to newcomers. I felt a lot of support after joining, with introduction into the numerous and often complex topics that are discussed within the association. Another great quality of the SA is that everyone is given the same attention, no matter what one’s status may be. It is not meant only for the delegates, but all SA members can participate in the work of commissions, come meet people and talk with them. I would like to invite all the fellows who are interested in how an organisation of the magnitude of CERN works, who have ideas about how to make our common environment better, or those who just want to be part of the SA community to come and join us. There is nothing to lose, but definitely something to gain.

by Staff Association