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Rice University | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Work and daily life

My job at CERN has been to analize data from two different parts of the CMS detector. The DT (Drift Tube) chambers and the CSC (Cathode Strip Chambers) both measure the position of muons that go through the detector. The DTs are located in the barrel, while the CSCs are located in the endcaps of the detector. There is a region in CMS where the same muon can be detected by both systems. I am currently analyzing data from this region.
One of the first tasks that students who start working for a CERN project do is to get familiar with the software that is used here. In the case of the ATLAS detector, the packages that they use are all put together in a framework called ATHENA. At CMS, we use the CMSSW. It will take long before you learn how CMSSW works, and you have to be patient, unless you are very familiar with software development. Another package that students learn how to use is ROOT. You usually use ROOT for plotting the data that was obtained with the analysis done in the CMSSW.
Besides learning how to use the software used by the CMS collaboration, I have also been able to do shifts at the detector’s control room. This is located at P5 (Point 5) at Cessy, France. The control room is the place at ground level where each subsystem of CMS has its own station for monitoring what goes on. So people working on the CSC subsystem most of the time have someone monitoring the CSCs at the CSC station. The same is the case for the other subsystems. As a shifter, most of the time your job is to take runs (gather data) and to log them. Since there is always two shifters, one of them configures and starts the run, while the other one logs important information about the run. The detector is located 100m under this control room. If you have access to the detector cavern (or UXC55) you can go down and look at the actual detector. It is huge. I also had a chance to visit another detector, ALICE. This detector is a bit smaller in size, but still big enough to impress you. The cavern is 50m underground.
Living in France
I work at CERN on the Swiss side of the border. However, I live on the French side, in a small town named Saint Genis Poully. Saint Genis is a very calm place. There is a pub named Charly’s Pub that I visit with my roomates every once in a while. Other activities near Saint Genis include hiking to the mountains and paragliding. There is a lot of mountains in the area, and you can actually see the Swiss alps from CERN.
One thing you learn while living in Europe is that business usually close early. When my roomates and I need to buy groceries, we usually go to a store called Carrefour right after we get out of work. You can find Carrefour in many European countries, not just in France.
The Swiss city of Geneva is less than 10Km away from Saint Genis. It is really easy to get to Geneva from where I live, since all you have to do is take a road called Route de Meyrin. The CERN Meyrin site is located near Saint Genis along this road between Saint Genis and Geneva. There are nice places to visit in Geneva, such as the lake, or the United Nations building. If you want to travel to other European cities, all you have to do is go to the Geneva train station and buy a ticket. Paris is a little bit more than 3h away by train.

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