by Maria Bader. Published: 15 August 2014

It is without any doubt every particle physicist's dream to be involved in a project at CERN. And my dream just came true.

My name is Maria Bader and I'm from Germany. Currently, I'm pursuing a Master's degree in Experimental Physics at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and this is where I first heard of the amazing opportunity to be, during a whole summer, part of the world's greatest research facility for particle physics. When I received the confirmation that I had been picked out of more than 1000 young German scientists to join the collaboration I couldn't be happier: I would finally be a part of the mind-blowing research happening at CERN.

During July and August 2014 I joined the ALICE group and the project I was assigned to was exciting from the very first moment. Studying the mass spectra of the particles traversing the TPC and TOF detectors, I was assigned to search for exotic stable charged particles such as free quarks and magnetic monopoles. Therefore I was doing research at the very frontier of physics which I experienced as an incredibly exciting task.

During my work at CERN I was not only able to improve my research skills but I also got to learn more about the structure and the organization of a huge research group like ALICE. In this amazing collaboration everyone is willing to share their knowledge and motivated to invest into young scientists. Surely it was a great experience to see the future of physics being embraced by amazing researchers from all over the world.

Besides hard work my summer was also filled with visits to all the various detector systems like CMS, ATLAS and of course ALICE. Seeing the detectors I've read so much about with my own eyes was a mind-blowing and incredibly inspiring experience and I hope that future students will have this amazing chance.

I believe that during my stay I gained a great understanding of physics and I'll continue moving forward with that in mind. CERN is the best place to be as a young physicist and given another opportunity, I'd be proud to work again in this inspiring atmosphere.