by Polly Bennett. Published: 16 December 2011

During the ALICE Collaboration Board meeting in November two new institutes were admitted to ALICE: the University of Talca, Chile and the Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand. Here, ALICE Matters talks to Sergio Guinez-Molinos & Claudio Tenreiro about their university, their involvement with ALICE and a non-physics focus.


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The University of Talca is the first Chilean university to become involved with ALICE, and the third country in Latin America (after Brazil and Peru). It is also unique in that it does not have a particular physics focus. Instead its aim is to become more familiar with AliEn and to apply research from new technologies to areas outside physics, such as bioinformatics or medicine, as well as contributing to ALICE’s use of it. AliEn, standing for ALICE Environment, is an open source grid framework for the simulation, reconstruction and analysis of data taken by ALICE. Sergio Guinez-Molinos fronts the Talca collaboration with ALICE, “we would like to become more familiar with the AliEn middleware and its capacity to be applied in a distributed environment. We are particularly interested in bioinformatics where we generate a lot of data and need to resolve problems using huge computational power.” AliEn provides the platform from which these problems can be tackled.

Sergio Guinez-Molinos

The Universidad de Talca

Talca is a university well aware of the globalised environment in which its students wish to learn. “The world is constantly changing and increases its demands for excellent educational services. This is why Talca was consolidated, in 1981, as a prestigious university, promoting a learning experience that is immersed in the social, cultural and business environment of Chile and rest of the world” says Sergio.

Claudio Tenreiro, a colleague of Sergio, adds “in Chile we feel far from the main world. The Internet has increased our connections to science enormously and we will benefit from these connections. I do believe ALICE will benefit from our contribution too, but only after we have integrated ourselves in the teams and achieved results from our research. We can add to ALICE and CERN’s resources.” Claudio has been at Talca or 7 years as a nuclear physicist. He focuses on heavy ion nuclear reactions but also applied physics in technology, hence his involvement with Grid computing.

Sergio Guinez-Molinos

Sergio Guinez-Molinos

However, Sergio explains that the Grid computing paradigm and also Cloud computing, where resources are shared as a service over a network, are novel technologies in Chile, hence their desire to gain more experience with ALICE. “It is very important for us to associate with and conduct top-level research. Our participation with ALICE is to eventually help us manage biomedical informatics data. We developed this idea based on the The MammoGrid Project.” This project, based at the University of West England in the UK, focuses on the applications of a grid system for mammography. “In Chile we are interested in more general data such as genomics, proteomics, and images. We also want to implement trust and reputation models to assess the reliability and trustworthiness of the resources connected to the Grid network.” It is often difficult for users to identify the quality of a resource when the whole framework is open source. Sergio came to CERN in January 2011 to work with Pablo Saiz and Latchezar Betev on the AliEn environment. He adds, “I applied this work and the technology to my doctoral thesis on the Trust Model for AliEn.”

Claudio Tenreiro

Claudio Tenreiro

Claudio’s final words promote the country itself, “Chile can be seen as a huge national laboratory. We have conditions that range from the driest desert and mountains to the sea and the Antarctic. We have many climate conditions, which causes the exuberance of the natural scenery that nature offers us, including earthquakes and volcanoes.” He adds a sombre note, “our society has to be educated to understand the importance of basic knowledge. It is a challenge ‘doing’ science in Chile. However, one of our 2015 goals for the Universidad de Talca is to continuously increase the exchange of people with institutions and cultures worldwide for the benefit of our students and our country.”