by Panos Charitos. Published: 24 April 2015

In March 2015, Benjamin Hess and Hans Beck were elected Junior Representatives, succeeding Chiara Bianchin and Jochen Klein, who stepped down at the end of their mandates. They will represent the ALICE post-docs and students at the meetings of the Collaboration Board, promoting the active participation of the junior members in decision-making.

“We would like to thank our predecessors, Chiara and Jochen, for their great job. Marta Verweij was also very helpful in getting us started. We look forward to make a valuable impact on the ALICE management regarding the Juniors. It is intrinsic to our role that we depend on the opinions of the collaboration. We were happy to find out that lively discussions about changing the ALICE constitution had opened up and encourage the Juniors to continue their involvement through their institutes and the junior community,” Benjamin and Hans said.

Benjamin Hess is a PhD student at the University of Tuebingen in Germany and first came to ALICE in 2008 as a summer student. Excited by the fascinating LHC physics, he carried out two further summer student projects in the subsequent years. In 2010 he started his diploma thesis at the University of Heidelberg, working on online electron identification for triggering with the TRD. He enjoyed being down in the cavern connecting TRD supermodules and collaborating with fifteen people from different countries, working on low-voltage power supplies.

In 2011 he started his PhD in Tuebingen and is currently working on charged particle identification with the TPC in jets and high-multiplicity pp events. In the course of his work, he became responsible for the TPC PID calibration and helped improve the PID response framework.

Benjamin Hess says: “I believe that, as a diverse collaboration, ALICE needs to take into consideration the diverse national policies and needs of the Juniors from different institutes worldwide, who carry out an important fraction of analyses”. As a Junior Representative, he now has the opportunity to bring such issues forward in the Collaboration Board: “I would like to advocate a fair distribution of service tasks, as I think that some students undertake more service tasks than the intended scope, whereas others are desperately looking for something they can do.”

Hans Beck currently works in Heidelberg, Germany. He explains his reasons for applying as a Junior Representative:

“In the past year, the Junior Representatives had emphasized the diversity of the collaboration with the aim of making ALICE a pleasant workplace for all. I can only barely imagine how it feels to have worked so hard to be part of this scientific community to then hit a glass ceiling or having to deal with superfluous stereotypes. I hope everybody in the collaboration keeps the developed awareness in their daily life and ALICE will be an outstanding example for an inclusive workplace.

Age also is a category of diversity. We, early career researchers, profit a lot from the experience of senior scientists and could not be more grateful for this. However, junior and senior members have to be equal partners within the collaboration — each with their strengths and weaknesses. This implies that Juniors should be included in the decision making process. People must be given the opportunity to identify with the collaboration and this has to be achieved by explicit action. The steps made so far, e.g. the representation of Juniors in the boards and the task force on publication speed, which involve the whole collaboration, are happily acknowledged. Of course, this entails the responsibility for everybody to provide more input. The Junior community will be happy to share ideas of how we want to work in the future.

Scientific progress cannot be centrally controlled. It happens in creative groups that are given the freedom to explore. The salaries on the free market are much higher for bright minds; the liberty is what makes ALICE attractive as an employer. The Juniors Day is a great example of how Juniors fill a given space. The analysis tutorial has become the knowledge base for how to do an analysis in ALICE and the focus talks 'All you wanted to know about … and were afraid to ask' provide a safe, inclusive, and enjoyable environment. This shows that Juniors work responsibly, and I encourage the collaboration to put more trust in the Juniors. Not everything has to be managed in a top-down approach.”

Congratulations, Benjamin and Hans. ALICE Matters wishes you all the best for your term in office and is sure that you will do a great job in bringing the voice of the Juniors to the Collaboration Board.