Feature - A week at CERN

Feature - A week at CERN

Ilaria (second from left) lunching with the EGEE project office. Image courtesy Ilaria Marchese

In mid-June, the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project office hosted Ilaria Marchese, a student from the International School of Geneva, on work-experience for a week. Ilaria, who will be 15 in August, shares her thoughts on her week, women in science and research, and life at CERN.

What did you think about spending a week in the EGEE project office?

"It was really interesting. I hadn't heard of the project before, so I was amazed at the reach of EGEE's work - it's practically everywhere. It's in more than 50 countries and helps all types of research. I was also impressed by how much work goes into the project to help people use this service."

What interests you about science?

"Science is fascinating - I love understanding how and why things work. I recently wrote a report on holograms for school . . . they seem almost magical at first, until you understand them. I think there are many things in the world like that - mysterious at first, but when you look at them more closely they make sense. I think the future is in science - we still have a lot to discover."

Why do you think boys commonly are more interested in science than girls?

"In girls' minds, math is tightly linked to science, and it often leads to the equation : 'I don't like math, so I don't like science.'

Ilaria said her week at CERN left her less scared of the future, more knowledgeable about grids - and surprised at how many reports EC-funded projects have to write. Image courtesy Ilaria Marchese

I think it's largely based on what appeals to students, but I don't feel teachers treat boys or girls any differently. In my science class, out of 12 girls, only two show a lot of interest in science. I think for girls and women, it's more important for them to get something back from what they are studying . . . many find subjects with, for example, a humanitarian aspect more emotionally fulfilling. Boys are more practical and science suits them better. The nature-nurture aspect is also important, the way parents bring up their children will influence their preferences at school as well."

Do you think you would like to go into research as a job?

"I think I would like to, but I don't know what field. I've just begun studying science a little more in depth at school, so everything seems interesting to me. Maybe as I continue studying something in particular will appeal to me."

"Spending this week here at CERN has helped me feel less scared about the future. I know that people often try many jobs or disciplines before settling in one. I know if I don't find the perfect field right away it is OK because you can learn from every experience you have and use it other things that you do. Everything you do is enriching."

Do you think a laboratory like CERN would be an interesting place to work?

"Yes, people here seem pretty chill-you're relaxed but you still get a lot done. I've been amazed at how many reports you have to write, and everything you do needs to be so precise. But I can see that people really care about their work and like what they are doing."

-Danielle Venton, EGEE