High-energy physics, the South American way

The 6th CERN–Latin American School of High-Energy Physics (CLASHEP) was held in Brazil from 23 March to 5 April. With its record-breaking attendance and strong international spirit, CLASHEP is yet another sign of the continent's growing particle physics community.


Participants in the 6th CERN–Latin American School of High-Energy Physics outside the Hotel Porto do Mar, Natal (Brazil), where the School was held.

CLASHEP was established in 2001 as a way of engaging young Latin American scientists in the field of particle physics - particularly in the experimental aspects of research. It has played an important role in encouraging Latin American institutes to collaborate with CERN and showing how non-Member-State physicists can work as equals with Member-State nationals. “CLASHEP reflects some of CERN’s guiding policies: enlarging its membership and involving new nations in its programmes,” says Nick Ellis, director of the CERN Schools of High-Energy Physics. “After the School was held in Argentina in 2005 and in Chile in 2007, these countries expanded their involvement with the Organization.”

After a competitive selection process, a record number of students were chosen to attend this year’s School in Natal in the North East of Brazil. With students from over 15 countries on 3 continents, CLASHEP embodied CERN’s multinational flavour. Students attended a comprehensive programme of 31 lectures and 9 discussion sessions, and were also given the opportunity to present their work at a student poster session. In projects new to this year’s School, groups selected and discussed experimental papers from one of the LHC experiments in detail. “We asked each group to dissect both the theoretical and the experimental aspects of a single paper,” says Ellis. “This gave the phenomenologists in attendance the opportunity to better understand the steps between starting an experiment and publishing a paper.”

Students present their work at the CLASHEP student poster session.

CLASHEP provides funding for many Latin American students wishing to attend the School, with support provided by CERN, Spain’s national scientific research centre (Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas Medioambientales y Tecnológicas, CIEMAT), and several Brazilian organisations (CAPES, CNPq, FAPERJ, FAPESP and RENAFAE). “Brazil has made significant contributions to supporting neighbouring nations by helping students from across Latin America,” explains Ellis.

Brazil has close ties with CERN, and has recently expressed its interest in becoming an Associate Member of the Organization. Expect ties between the Latin American physics community and CERN to have grown even closer by the time of the next CERN-Latin American School in 2013.

by Katarina Anthony