by Ian Randall. Published: 21 December 2010

In this issue, ALICE Matters chatted with Ombretta Pinazza, a project associate with the DCS.

Ian Randall

ALICE's Ombretta Pinazza

How long have you been at ALICE?

I've been here since the year 2003… but not at CERN - before, I used to come one week a month, to meet the people I am working with. I am based in Bologna, actually, where I have a position as ‘tecnologo’ - it's like an engineer. I have worked there for a long time - since my university studies. I'm not from Bologna, though – I’m from a small village (Domegge) in the Alps.

What do you do?

In ALICE, I'm in the DCS group, which means I take care of the controls. DCS stands for Detector Control System. We take care of the software structure that monitors the detectors and permits them to interact with the hardware. This means we switch on, switch off and monitor the temperature, the voltage - things like that. It's a service - it's not exactly physics, but it is very important.

How did you get into physics in the first place?

It's very attractive - the top of what you can study at university, in my opinion. I saw all the other things like mathematics - that I love a lot - or engineering, as supporting the physics, so this was my final vision of high level studies. I was not in particle physics at the beginning - I studied a lot of classical physics and then I moved to particle particles in the INFN.

How do you like it here at CERN?

I see CERN and the LHC as the top edge of technology - and science, of course - and that is very exciting. Everything at the top border is new, and has never been seen before. This period is very rich and important for me, for my growth.

Are you involved in the upgrades over the winter stop?

Yes, we are upgrading computers, software... after this first year there are many things to develop in a more powerful way - and we will profit from the shutdown, permitting us to act on the system without interfering with the job of the physicists.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I've found this nice group which does orienteering and cross country - and I profit from the position to go into the mountains. I like this a lot, because I was born in the mountains.

In the summer I went into the Alps, walking, hiking and going trekking. I started orienteering this fall - it's a nice opportunity to know the territory a bit better. I visited all those famous places that I always heard about on the television, or in ski competitions, and finally I could see them close up - like the Matterhorn, the Jungfrau and the Eiger.

What does orienteering involve?

They give you a map, a very detailed one, without any names - it's only symbols and a few colours. On this map, they put signs for where you can find the so-called 'posts'. You have to go from one post to another, taking proof that you have been to each, and get to the end as quickly as possible. Your ranking takes into account the time you take, and the number of posts you have visited. I'm just a beginner, but I like it.

The club organizes almost one course per week - they are very active! I don't know whether I will be that active. They even did one course here in CERN, at night. It was fun because I discovered places that I didn't know about.

What other hobbies do you have?

I play in the rugby team - there is a female team here at CERN. I enjoy it - this team is quite friendly. There are not many women from CERN, actually - but we are able to gather people from many different countries.

We play in the unique female league in Switzerland. The season is over for this winter, but we train two times a week, and twice a month we have competition with the other teams. I have only played half a season - but I like it.