by Virginia Greco. Published: 19 September 2017

A Laboratory Teaching Staff member of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Paraskevi Ganoti has covered her first shift as a run manager last August.

Paraskevi, or Evi as everybody calls her, got her Bachelor and Master’s degree in physics from the University of Athens in Greece and continued her studies enrolling for a PhD at the same University. She worked in the WA102 experiment at the CERN SPS, focusing on the analysis of electromagnetic processes and anomalous soft photon production in pp collisions at 450 GeV. During those years, she developed a very good relationship with her PhD advisor, who was working – at the same time - on heavy ion physics. This was determinant for Evi’s choice to pursue a career in this area of physics: “It came as a natural continuation of my collaboration with my supervisor,” explains Evi. “But,” she adds, “I was also attracted by the fact that the object of heavy-ion physics is some way more ‘defined, we are not looking anywhere for something that we dont know where it is and if it really exists.

Thus, she became a member of the ALICE collaboration in 2005, when she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Athens. Currently she has a Staff position at the same institute, where she teaches laboratory courses to undergraduate students. Due to her duties at the University, she spends most of her time in Athens; nevertheless, from 2010 to 2012 she could take a temporary leave and move to CERN to work for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee (US).

As a fresh member of the ALICE experiment, she worked mainly on simulations, focusing on kaon identification through its decay to a muon and a muon neutrino (kink topology). During her stay at CERN, though, she got involved in hardware activities, in particular in the calibration of the Electromagnetic Calorimeter (EMCal), and worked also on neutral meson identification analysis.

Evi has in her carnet various experiences in the ALICE control room, first as a shift leader and as the on-call expert for the EMCal, and now as a run manager. “It was some way different,” Evi comments, “because I had more responsibility and I had to deal with many people. This sometimes can be challenging, surely you need to be very diplomatic. But I enjoyed this stay at CERN.

Since she is normally based in Athens, when she has the occasion to spend a period at CERN she profits to meet colleagues and discuss common projects and issues. “Things are quite easier when you are at CERN,” she remarks. “You can talk with experts in different fields and share ideas; problems can be solved much faster and everything is more straightforward.” Of course, email and Vidyo connections help a lot in keeping the collaboration alive and productive, but still it is not like working side by side. “Besides, when you are away you are inevitably less involved, so you risk to lose a bit of motivation.

At the moment Evi’s research activities are mainly focused on the EMCal detector and on neutral meson analysis, but a change might be on the horizon: “Since a colleague of mine who was working on kaon-kink analysis retired, although she is still active, I have been asked to go back to this topic, because of my expertise in it, and to study kaon decays in multiplicity bins in pp collisions. This is indeed an interesting analysis channel to work on, due to its small background and high purity.” Other topics could also be of interest for her, such as the study of jets as well as forward physics, the latter facilitated by the future ALICE Forward Calorimeter (FoCal).

Evi also enjoys her role as a teacher, in particular when she finds some students who are very motivated and are able to infect her with their enthusiasm. Unfortunately, Evi and her colleagues have problems in getting PhD students working with them: “There are very few students willing to pursue a research career in particle physics and most of them, anyway, prefer to enter in the big experiments, i.e. CMS and ATLAS”. The situation is particularly difficult in Greece as a consequence of the crisis, since there are few grants for PhD students, so most of them are unpaid. “We have to be happy that, nevertheless, there is somebody who goes for a PhD anyway.