by Ian Randall. Published: 08 July 2011

This fortnight, ALICE Matters had a chat with Dmitry Mal'Kevich, an electronic engineer and PhD student who comes from the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP), in Moscow, Russia.

Dmitry Mal'kevich

Dmitry Mal'kevich, an electronical engineer and PhD student from ITEP, Moscow, who works with ALICE

How long have you been at ALICE?

Well, I first ‘met’ ALICE in 2003 – that was the first time that I came to CERN - but after that I spent two years in Bologna, Italy, participating in the construction and assembly on Multigap Resistive Plate Chamber strips for ALICE Time Of Flight system.

Since 2005, however, I have been regularly coming to CERN for a few months each year – usually, during winter and autumn. At the moment, I am here till 18 July; after that, I will go back to Russia and I will probably come back to CERN again in the autumn, to take part in the heavy ion runs.

What do you do here at ALICE?

Basically, I'm an electronic engineer. Currently, I am taking shifts as an ALICE Detector Control System operator. At the same time I am working on other Research and Development projects; our team has developed ? so-called START detector (Scintillation Tile with MRS APD light readout) which has been adopted as a basic element of the Cosmic Ray Test Facility and used in mass tests of quality of the ALICE Time Of Flight modules.

We are developing new systems based on Metal Resistor Semiconductor Avalanche Photo Diode (new type of Geiger mode avalanche multipixel detector invented in Russia) for ALICE upgrades, medical applications and some future HEP projects at FAIR.

How do you like your job?

A lot, I also enjoy visiting CERN because, in my humble opinion, it is a wonderful, global, place – with a great mix between knowledge, technology and science. There is also plenty of interesting people here to talk with – often, I learn new things about physics and engineering while simply talking to people.

Did you always want to be an engineer?

Probably - It's true that after high school I really started to think about science. I felt that it was very interesting and I wanted to do something in this area.

I graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, and my first specialty was accelerator physics. I very much enjoyed working in this field, but when I came to ITEP my field of interest changed a little bit; I started to accumulate some other knowledge, relating to gaseous and photo detectors.

In any case, I prefer to do engineering things rather than physics because, in my opinion, engineering is a more precise subject. I will try when possible to combine them.

What is your favourite thing about working at CERN?

What I enjoy most is the wide variety of interesting people one can meet at CERN.

So, what have you been doing today?

Some time ago, I started writing my PhD; so, today, I have prepared several pages for it, and also read some reports. So far, it is going quite well.

What is the topic of your PhD?

The construction of cosmic ray test facilities for regular preliminary tests of ALICE Time Of Flight modules.

While you are here, do you do much travelling around Europe?

Not now, because I am staying alone. But when I am here with other members of the Russian community we go around every weekend. Last time we went to Dijon, and recently we made a trip to the Vatican, and saw the Sistine Chapel, for example.

When we stayed in Bologna, Italy, every weekend we took trains to go to some historical places. I also have been to France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Travelling is always great fun for me.

When you are not doing physics, how do you like to spend your spare time?

I like to go cycling, swimming and playing beach volleyball. Also - during the summer - I enjoy gardening as a hobby, together with my wife and my mother. We grow many things: from flowers, to tomatoes, and even apple trees. I like nature.

Another hobby of mine is auto mechanics and car styling - I like to fine-tune my car: making modifications to the sound system, for example... whenever I have free time I usually try to do something to make my car more individual.

So, what make of car do you have?

For now, I have a Kia Ceed SW - it is a Korean motor.

...and what would be your ideal car?

I think that my dream car would be a BMW.

What are you plans for the future?

I haven’t really thought about it before, but I would like stay with CERN and ITEP - I want to continue doing something useful for science and technology.