by Ian Randall. Published: 10 June 2011

The Users’ Office has a new head: in the form of Doris Chromek-Burckhart. Originally a physicist from Mainz, Germany, Chromek-Burckhart has had a long relationship with CERN, and intends to bring her experience and sense of community to work in her new role.

“Physicists are our Raison d'être at CERN, because CERN is here to provide facilities for the large high energy physics community for their research,” says Chromek-Burckhart. “It is the Users who do the physics… this is why we are here, and therefore I attach a lot of importance to them.”

Pierre Gildemyn

Doris Chromek-Burckhart - the new head of CERN's Users' Office

The Users’ Office – which works in close collaboration with the Advisory Committee of CERN Users (ACCU) – exists to assist Users during their time at CERN – and manages the administrative side of such. In total there are over 10,000 Users registered with CERN.

The long-running previous head of the office, Chris Onions, retired last year after more than ten years of service; with Jose Salicio Diez having kindly stepped in to fill the role – in addition to his other duties – until a more permanent replacement could be found. In April, having been freed from her previous duties, Chromek-Burckhart was pleased to take up the reins.

“I was delighted to see how well the Users’ Office is running,” said Chromek-Burckhart, adding: “It has a highly professional staff, and they are committed to doing their best for our Users every day.”

Prior to her new role in the Users’ Office, Chromek-Burckhart spent the last two years as CERN’s Equal Opportunities Officer. In this capacity, along with promoting diversity and acceptance in the workplace, she assisted personnel and the organization with issues relating to harassment and conflict resolution.

As a result of a review she undertook during this period, the role of equal opportunities at CERN has now been expanded: starting with the formation of the new Ombuds office in July last year - which has taken over the informal handling of conflict resolution – and to continue with the formation of a specialised harassment investigation panel, and, in July, the creation of a Diversity office.

“I'm very happy that all these are getting that much more depth and the importance that they deserve in CERN,” Chromek-Burckhart says.

With over 30 years of experience, Chromek-Burckhart originally started her career at CERN as a staff member, working on the online support for the data acquisition systems – back in the day when such were centralised across CERN. Following this, Chromek-Burckhart moved to join the ATLAS experiment, in the early days of the collaboration – where she also assisted in the development, commissioning and deployment of ATLAS’ own data acquisition system.

“I participated in all the exciting moments of the first beams,” Chromek-Burckhart explains. “So I have shared the strain and the joy with all the Users… they are my direct colleagues - and so I think I have a very good understanding of what kinds of issues come up.”

It is this personable nature and sense of community which Chromek-Burckhart feels will stand her well in her new position. “I think it is important to keep a close contact with the individual Users and their community, to understand their needs,” she says.