Antonio Zoccoli | Interview with Antonio Zoccoli, newly elected president OF INFN

1Antonio Zoccoli, Professor of Physics at the University of Bologna, former member of INFN’s Executive Board, from July 1 is the new President of INFN

Antonio Zoccoli took over as President of INFN from July 1, following INFN Board of Directors presidential nomination, last 30 May, and the nomination decree of Italy’s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR). Zoccoli succeeds Fernando Ferroni, who presided over the institute for two terms beginning in 2011. Born in Bologna in 1961, Antonio Zoccoli graduated in physics at the University of Bologna where he is now Professor of Experimental Physics. Zoccoli was an associate researcher with the Bologna INFN division, of which he was the director from 2006 to 2011, and a member of the INFN Executive Board since 2011, of which he was also Vice President. Throughout his scientific career, Zoccoli has been active in the field of experimental fundamental, nuclear and subnuclear physics. He first held the role of member of the Muon Catalysed Fusion Collaboration at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) and of OBELIX at CERN in Geneva. Later, he participated in the HERA-B experiment at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg. Since 2005, he has been a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN that, together with the CMS collaboration, announced the first observation of the Higgs boson in July 2012. Zoccoli is co-author of more than 700 scientific and technical publications in international journals. He is actively involved in the popularisation of science and, since 2008, has led the Fondazione Giuseppe Occhialini for the popularisation of physics. We asked the new president about his vision of INFN’s future.

Your election as president is recent, but you have followed INFN research policy for many years, first as director, then as a member of the Executive Board. What is the state of INFN’s health? What are its strong points, and what elements need strengthening?
INFN is the only Italian research organisation engaged in the field of nuclear and elementary particle physics, as well as in the more recent field of astroparticle physics. It enjoys the privilege of relying on its own big research facilities, which it won with its capacity for vision and its determination. These facilities include the Frascati National Laboratories, which are INFN’s cradle, and the place where the first electron-positron collider in the history of physics was constructed - an idea and a technology that were then exported throughout the world. INFN also has the largest underground research centre in the world, the Gran Sasso National Laboratories. This is a unique facility due to its environmental and instrumental purity, and because of the expertise and technologies it developed in the field of research of rare events, such as those linked to the study of dark matter and neutrinos. The National Laboratories of the South (LNS) and the Legnaro National Laboratories (LNL) are two more big national laboratories. These are principally dedicated to nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics, as well as to the development of medical applications in fundamental physics, such as the production of radiopharmaceuticals and particle beam cancer therapies. The repercussions of basic research are obvious in these cases, which also involve other INFN facilities such as the different INFN division laboratories and the TIFPA Trento Institute. To cite just a couple of examples, these are at work on the applications of technological innovations developed for particle accelerators and detectors and the cryogenic techniques developed through experiments at Gran Sasso. Other INFN facilities, such as the CNAF Computing Centre in Bologna, and the computing facilities that are diffused throughout the country, shouldn’t be forgotten. Furthermore, INFN manages the EGO consortium, together with the French CNRS, that is located in Italy, close to Pisa. This hosts the Virgo interferometer, one of the three big instruments in the world that are capable of detecting gravitational waves. In addition to the national facilities, it shouldn’t be forgotten that INFN is a “shareholder” in CERN, the biggest laboratory in the world and the only one of its kind - it is the site of the most powerful particle accelerator ever created, LHC. The close relationship with CERN allows INFN to develop cutting-edge research and to promote and launch frontier research for the near future, at both a national and international level. One sector where we will have to do some work in the next few years is that of fundings, in order to guarantee a level of adequate funds to continue research that is already under way and to launch what is part of the future strategy. At the same time, we will have to work on strengthening recruitment of young people for the future, defining an appropriate and stable channel for hiring new researchers, so as not to let the best talents trained in Italy leave and to be attractive to those trained overseas.

INFN’s excellence is recognised around the world and its reputation rests on its capacity for vision and on a high degree of expertise. Such recognition is proven, for example, by the fact that numerous Italian physicists coming from INFN have always held roles with a high degree of responsibility in international collaborations. How do you plan on maintaining this excellence at an international level?
INFN has always had important positions in almost all the international initiatives in which it participates. This is also owed to the fact that international research is in INFN’s very DNA and has distinguished the organisation right from the start. Our overseas researchers are excellent. This also goes for young people who trained within INFN, who were prepared right from the beginning of their careers for international collaborations, so that, when they had finished their training, they had developed the necessary capacity to take on high-level roles. The challenge for the next few years will be to maintain this excellence by spurring students finishing their degrees, doctoral students, and post-docs to develop creative and innovative capacities, a proactive bent, and the right attitude for taking on responsibility. The effort that we will have to make is, therefore, in training young people to have a wider vision not limited by specific national research objectives and by the national context in general. We will have to spur them to propose new and innovative ideas, to compete at an international level, participating in European funding competitions or the ERC Grant competitions, which are structured so as to award creativity and the capacity for innovation, just to make an example.

INFN is the fusion of historical traditions that have their roots in the first half of last century: subnuclear physics research and the study of cosmic rays. Traditions that have maintained their autonomy, by integrating methodologies, technologies, results, and discoveries in an increasingly effective way. What, today, is the most promising challenge for these research strands that, along with theoretical physics, nuclear physics and applied physics, defines INFN’s research strategy?
There are two challenges in both of INFN's founding fields that are completely open. The two research share a common aim, that is to study the fundamental laws that govern the universe and that characterised the first moments of its life. And to study this, we use the widest possible range of tools located even in the most disparate places, from underground laboratories, to the depths of the sea, to artificial satellites in orbit. INFN holds a leading role in both these fields, participating in all the big physics, subnuclear physics, and astroparticle physics endeavours at an international level. In the field of subnuclear physics, so-called high-energy physics, the European strategy for the next few years, to which INFN is making a fundamental contribution, is still being defined. Above all, we will need to establish how to develop the research facilities and what will be the right machine, after the LHC, for producing particle beam collisions. INFN has a primary role in this endeavour, both in terms of strategic vision, and in terms of contributing technology and physics expertise. On the other hand, in the field of astroparticle physics, the challenge is that of research into dark matter and that encompassed by so-called multimessenger astronomy. The latter explores the mysteries of the universe by using several cosmic messengers and, therefore, various tools for their detection: from electromagnetic observers, to cosmic ray satellites, from gravitational wave interferometers, to underwater telescopes for detecting neutrinos. INFN has, beyond its wide-ranging participation in the whole of international research initiatives in this field, its own facilities, which are capable of attracting and gathering researchers from around the world. Among those facilities dedicated to multi-messenger physics, the Gran Sasso National Laboratories and the Italian-French Virgo interferometer are a point of reference for the international community.

In the last few years, INFN has paid particular attention to the transfer of expertise and of technologies developed for basic research in different fields, with an important socio-economic impact. How do you imagine to strengthen this aspect?
Technology transfer is one of the most pressing challenges related to our organisation’s strategy. In recent years, it’s one we have engaged with in a direct and systematic way with excellent results. We have dedicated a lot of energy to strengthening the societal impact of our research activities, working on two aspects in particular. On the one hand, the transfer of technologies and methods to the Italian industrial system and, on the other hand, the transfer of expertise thanks to the excellent training that young people acquire through research activities in our facilities and alongside our researchers. One of INFN’s resources is its ability to give young people suitable preparation for the requirements of the Italian industrial system. And undertaking research with INFN continues to be one of the most profitable channels for the training of young people entering the industrial planning sector.

Let’s talk about the INFN community, which comprises around 2,000 researchers, technologists, technicians, and administrative staff as well as 3,000 university employee research associates. Choosing one aspect as a priority on which to focus, how do you imagine ensuring this rich community’s satisfaction and productivity?
Our researchers’ productivity has always been excellent. The passion that motivates them is an excellent engine not only for their capacity for work, but also for their personal initiative and for the proactiveness they demonstrate in their research activities and in establishing programmes. At the same time, the contribution of technologists, technicians, and administrative staff must be recognised since it is their commitment, their professionality, and their dedication that allow us to attain these results. We certainly have some work to do in terms of recognising this commitment. We have to find a way to offer the most talented young people the possibility of a career within the organisation, and this goes for the career progression of all types of employees, whether administrative, research, technical, or technological - and at any level. The chance to progress in the course of your career and to evolve your roles and responsibilities, must be guaranteed, along with the right recognition for your work. We also need to lighten the bureaucratic machinery, and simplify procedures, with the introduction of greater agility and autonomy in the management of administrative files, to facilitate work in the whole community. ▪

Caterina Biscari | INFN Researcher and General Manager of the ALBA Synchrotron Laboratory in Barcelona since 2012


Interview with Caterina Biscari, INFN Researcher and General Manager of the ALBA Synchrotron Laboratory in Barcelona since 2012.

In 2012, at the head of the largest and most innovative scientific infrastructure on the Iberian peninsula, was appointed an excellent Italian physicist. Technology Director of the INFN Frascati National Laboratories, a graduate in physics from the Complutense University of Madrid, Caterina Biscari was born in Italy, in Modica and returned to Italy after her studies to start her scientific career. The laboratory she has been managing for 7 years is the ALBA Synchrotron, to be found in the scientific park of Cerdanyola del Vallès, 15 kilometres away from Barcelona: a laboratory with a strong international vocation, dedicated to basic research and its application in fields ranging from technological innovation to medicine. An internationally recognised expert in particle accelerators for scientific research and medical applications, Caterina Biscari has also worked at CERN in Geneva and at the CNAO in Pavia, the National Centre for Oncological Hadrotherapy, whose accelerator was implemented with the fundamental contribution of INFN and its researchers, before moving on to manage the ALBA Synchrotron. She is a Fellow of the European Physical Society, member of several committees including the Scientific Policy Committee of CERN, the Scientific Advisory Committee of KEK and the PSI Advisory Board. In 2013 she was awarded the official honour of the Order of the Star by the President of the Italian Republic for her role in developing collaborations between Italy and other countries. We asked her to tell us how things are going and how she sees the future of her laboratory.

First of all, I would like to know how it came about: from research in Italy to managing the most prestigious scientific laboratory in Spain. It doesn't seem like a career step for everyone.

As in all steps in life there is always a combination of personal initiative and opportunity that arrive at the right time. During my scientific career, I have always maintained an interest in projects that were proposed in Spain based on particle accelerators. In 2012, at ALBA, they opened the position of facility manager with an international competition, in which I successfully participated. So I was appointed "directora", of which I immediately appreciated the use of the feminine version of the word. I would like to thank Spain, ALBA and its Council for offering me the opportunity to manage a fantastic group of people and to reap the benefits of the previous work of building and fine-tuning all the systems. My first visit to ALBA, immediately after the appointment, coincided with the day when the first official user began collecting data on a synchrotron beamline, thus starting the period of use of the beamlines. My initial task was therefore to organise and consolidate the operation, both from the point of view of the functioning of the technological systems as well as of user services, to then turn to the development and growth of the infrastructure and its scientific lines. Now we are in the process of defining in which technologies we want to invest in the near future with the construction of new beamlines, based on our capabilities, on those of the national and international user community and, above all, on the needs and challenges of the society of the future.

CERN teaches that research in physics with particle accelerators, but also with other tools, is increasingly global and shared: made of large collaborations and based on the exchange of knowledge, methods and technological innovations. What is the scientific community of ALBA like and how does it liaise with the rest of the world?

ALBA is a research infrastructure and a user facility, financed by the Spanish government and the regional government of Catalonia in equal measure. Despite being a national project, it has a clear international vocation. 25% of the personnel, currently consisting of 220 people, comes from outside Spain and, in this percentage, the most represented foreign community is that of Italy. Furthermore, the ALBA beamlines are used by an ever-increasing number of researchers, which last year reached 2200, with 35-40% coming from foreign institutions. Since 2012 to date, we have welcomed researchers from 35 different countries in our laboratories. And, finally, an essential part of our activity is the development of research and technology programs in collaboration with other institutions and research centres. In this context, our collaborations are dominated by the programs undertaken with similar infrastructures, especially European ones, through joint projects presented to the European community, or collaborative projects on a specific scientific line.We are among the main actors of LEAPS (League European of Accelerator-based Photon Sources), which includes about twenty European synchrotrons and FELs (Free Electron Lasers). The network was created with the strategic mission of unifying the means and specialisations of each individual structure, so as to optimise scientific and technical capacities in each country and offer European users complete and compatible tools and services. Next year I will have the honour of being Chair of LEAPS and, therefore, the voice of a European community that includes approx. 40,000 researchers engaged in responding to the challenges of our society on topics like health, energy, nutrition, new materials, big data and much more.And finally I would like to mention our collaboration with CERN, dedicated in particular to the development of future accelerators, from the FCC, CLIC and CompactX, and of course with INFN.

Which of the leading sectors of the laboratory do you think are the most promising? Have you established a hierarchy in ALBA between basic research and applied research?
A synchrotron light source is more dedicated to applied research, although very often the dividing line between the two types of research is blurred. The hierarchy among the hundreds of experiment proposals that researchers submit to our call for proposals is based on their scientific excellence, which is evaluated by external committees of international experts and allows the selection of experiments that will be carried out: on average, about half of those proposed.As an example of interaction between applied and basic research, I can mention the field of nanomagnetism, which develops in three of our beamlines, complementing different light-matter interaction techniques. Materials are studied for computing, spintronics, high critical temperature superconductor applications and many others for different uses. But, to return to the question concerning the relationship between basic and applied physics, when studying images of the magnetic properties of surfaces, or of magnetic moments in very thin layers of material, of a few tens of nanometres, or of skyrmions (particular states of sub-nuclear matter), these respond to questions of fundamental physics, increasing the theoretical knowledge in the field of magnetic materials. Another field in which the current tools of ALBA excel is the development of new drugs, thanks to a line based on a transmission microscope, where 3D images of cells are obtained with a resolution of a few tens of nanometres and that complement the diffraction line of macromolecules where protein structures at atomic resolution are resolved. This is one of the three or four lines of this type in the world, available to the global research community.I would also like to mention the applications in the field of chemical catalysis, essential for the development of technologies with low environmental impact, a research field for the development of which we also make recourse to the collaboration of Spanish research institutes among the most recognised in the world. And, finally, developments in the energy materials sector, for the construction of solar cells or batteries.Ultimately, the over 1,500 experiments that took place during these first years of operation in ALBA are extremely diversified, with researchers from thousands of research institutes and universities.

The ALBA laboratory is engaged in numerous activities concerning the dissemination of scientific culture. What role do you attribute to teaching in general and to early scientific training, more specifically?

I think that we scientists have a significant responsibility in disseminating the value of science. We are called upon to participate in the training of the various players in society. Our message must reach politicians, the media, the public that approaches us through the activities we regularly organise, but above all we must try to reach those who do not have the curiosity to know what lies behind the door of a research laboratory. Convince them that without research, without a commitment of the country to research, there is no future.I would like to make the example of a project conceived by the communication department of our laboratory, the "ALBA Mission" project: a project developed via web and aimed at children between 9 and 11 years of age of schools distributed throughout Spain. We organised four simple experiments that the teachers can easily carry out in their classrooms, guided by our researchers and with the possibility of connecting directly to us. In this way we reached 250 teachers and more than 7,000 children who now know — because they worked with us and saw our videos — that synchrotrons exist and that they are useful for the development of new drugs, or new materials to build batteries or to restore our archaeological treasures. We set up a visit to the winning school as a prize: three of our young researchers went to a school in Guadalupe, a small village of 2000 inhabitants in Extremadura, where they were welcomed as heroes. Next year, in the second edition, we will expand the project to involve up to 20,000 students.On the other hand, I think that children and young people should have a complete education, including basic science, but not forgetting humanistic education, history and philosophy. This knowledge is necessary to train any individual and provide them with critical skills, so that they can recognise, among other things, how technology can contribute to the development of humanity, but always with the focus on human beings.

In all areas of work, great attention is now being dedicated to the issue of gender equality. Has being a woman influenced, for better or for worse, your career? How do you encourage your younger female researchers to break down the prejudices and acquired insecurities?

Being a woman is unlikely to positively influence a career path in a highly male-dominated environment. In some countries active policies in this regard have been developed in addition to the attention to the issue of gender equality. Spain is certainly ahead of Italy in not discriminating on the basis of gender, as I have been able to personally experience, even though there is still a long way to go. In any case, during my career I have not experienced significant obstacles due to being a woman. The obstacles can be overcome with tenacity and work, without reflecting too much on the fact that they can be due to being a woman, and with the knowledge that they are sometimes inevitable given the circumstances. And once the glass ceiling has been broken, you get a recognition, sometimes even too much, just because you're a woman. We are so few that we are treated as if we were special, although there are sometimes chauvinist episodes which it is easier to smile about when you have already reached a mature age or a recognised position. My advice to young female researchers is not to be afraid, to work hard to make their dreams come true and to tactfully point out the error in certain attitudes. I hope that my position, which enjoys a certain visibility, serves as an example for girls, for children. The role model still prevalent for women often leads girls to choose service activities, those that are of help to others. It is normal to want to be a teacher, a doctor, to take care of someone. My message is that being a scientist, an engineer or an IT expert is a perfect way of really helping society. Moreover, these are also wonderful jobs, which also allow you to have fun and find personal gratification: it is therefore our right and duty to access them.

Rüdiger Voss | Interview with Rüdiger Voss, president of the European physical society. He has also been the Head of International Relations at CERN from 2013 to 2015.

Interview with Rüdiger Voss, president of the European physical society. He has also been the Head of International Relations at CERN from 2013 to 2015.

The European physical society (EPS) was established in 1968 and represents over 120,000 physicists organised in 42 different national societies. On July 5, one of its most prestigious conferences worldwide, the EPS conference on High Energy Physics (HEP), came back to Italy after over thirty years. It took place at Lido Island in Venice, which hence became the gathering point of international top physicists for one full week. The conference dealt with some of the most fascinating themes in physics research: from the origin of our universe to the Higgs Boson identikit, from the hunt for dark matter to the properties of the elusive neutrino, from New Physics to gravitational waves.

The 2017 edition of the EPS conference on High Energy Physics provided a vast scientific program. Do you think there has been a leading topic?
This year's program was, without any doubt, exceptionally rich and well organised. LHC physics has been in the focus of attention. Once again, the Higgs discovery, first announced in 2012, was one of the main topics of the conference. A lot of new results on Higgs Boson properties were presented. A major one was the first evidence of the Higgs decaying into one quark and one anti-quark beauty (H→bb). Furthermore, new precision measurements of the Higgs mass were shown. Overall, there is increasing evidence that the particle whose discovery was announced in 2012 corresponds to the Higgs Boson, as it is predicted by the Standard Model. However, during the conference, it also emerged that many more results and data are needed to establish that this particle fully corresponds to the Standard Model Higgs. Otherwise, if small differences from the Standard Model predictions are detected, windows to New Physics may be opened.

So the Higgs was surely one of the main topics of the conference, have you witnessed other interesting results coming from the Large hadron collider at CERN?
LHC physics is not just the Higgs boson, there have been many new results which reflect the fantastic performances of the collider in 2016, but also in 2017. An example is the beautiful discovery announced by the LHCb collaboration of a new doubly charmed hadron. This discovery could allow us to understand better how the strong interaction works.

And what about physics research other than the LHC?
Of course high energy physics is not just LHC physics, there are many other areas which continue to work hard and produce interesting results. An example is neutrino physics. Vigorous new programs for neutrinos studies are under preparation in particular in Japan, in the United States and in Italy. For example at INFN Gran Sasso National laboratories there several experiments dedicated to neutrinos studies that are undergoing further improvements.
Moreover this conference has given a lot of room to new exciting results from neighbouring fields such as gravitational physics and cosmology. Here, of course, the recent discovery of gravitational waves rightly took a very prominent place. Not to forget other areas such as particle astrophysics and dark matter searches.
This conference has been a demonstration of the strong interdependences and synergies among these neighbouring fields. The various disciplines that make up fundamental physics are coming closer and closer. This is fundamental to establish a complete picture of the universe, which goes much beyond the current Standard Model of particle physics.

Have you had the chance to hear some of the reactions of conference participants?
The excellent program of this conference has been reflected by an exceptional participation of about a thousand scientists from all over the world, not just from Europe. I think we have not seen participation like this in many years. All participants I talked to were impressed by the excellent scientific and local organization.
As the president of the European Physical Society, I would like to pay a tribute to the excellent work of the international organising committee and the board of the High Energy Particle Physics Division of the EPS (EPS HEPP) and, in particular, to its outgoing chair Yves Sirois. The success of this conference has been a powerful demonstration of the excellent leadership Yves has provided to the European Physical Society and to the High Energy Physics Division. I would also like to thank from the bottom of my heart the Local Organising Committee, chaired by Mauro Mezzetto and Paolo Checchia, and their many collaborators in particular from the INFN Padua Division who have been working very hard over the past two years to make this conference a success.

The main prize awarded by the EPS HEPP division during the conference was to a breakthrough development in detector technology. Do you think the wind is changing and the relevance of technical applications for the success of research is going to be formally recognised?
I do not think that this reflects a change of wind. The history of particle physics, but also that of many other branches of our science, shows that there can be no breakthrough discoveries in fundamental science without breakthrough developments in accelerator and detector technologies. For this reason, even the Nobel prize was awarded to key technological innovations more than once. Some examples are the Nobel prizes awarded to Donald Glaser for the bubble chamber, Simon van der Meer for stochastic cooling, or Georges Charpak for the drift chamber. The award of the 2017 High Energy and Particle Physics prize to Erik Heijne, Robert Klanner and Gerhard Lutz for their pioneering contributions to the development of silicon microstrip detectors was timely and appropriate: the LHC experiments and their ability to process the enormous data rates provided by this machine would not be possible without the silicon detector technology.

Umberto Dosselli | Interview with Umberto Dosselli, Scientific Attaché at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Organisations in Geneva

DOSSELLIq1GENEVA: FROM CERN TO THE ENVIRONMENT, ITALIAN INDUSTRY AND KNOW HOW FOR INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION Interview with Umberto Dosselli, Scientific Attaché at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Organisations in Geneva

For over 100 years Switzerland has hosted international organisations: today 22 of them are based in Geneva (8 of which are United Nations agencies), including CERN, the most important particle physics laboratory in the world, unique for its complexity, scientific-technological prospects and potential for industry. Italy, with INFN, participates in its activities at the highest level. The economic return of these activities is important for Italian industry, thanks to the high capacity of Italian industry to take part in the experiments with high technology products. However, the international organisations also offer Italy other opportunities that the Permanent Mission of Italy in Geneva seeks to encourage, fostering communications and supporting national skills and know-how.

What is the scenario in which the Permanent Mission of Italy in Geneva operates?
First of all, we have to make a distinction. The diplomatic networks in Geneva are divided into two spheres: bilateral relations and multilateral relations. And the Italian diplomatic network is obviously organised in this way. Bilateral relations are between Italy and the local host State, and they are followed by the Embassy and by the potential Consulates. In Switzerland the Embassy is in Berne, but diplomacy is also followed by a Consulate in Geneva. Geneva, however, is special because it is the seat of many international organisations, such as the UN, NATO, the Red Cross, CERN, the WMO (World Meteorological Organization), the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), the WTO (World Trade Organization), to mention just a few. And it is with these organisations that the multilateral relations are conducted. The Permanent Missions, which have the status of embassies, are indeed in charge of the relations between the single countries and the international organisations. Thus, it is the Ambassador who conducts the relations, in our case, between Italy and the single international organisations. Some are “technical”, other are scientific and technological relations: my mandate, in particular, in the capacity of Scientific Attaché, is to follow the latter ones. For example, I'm the Italian representative of the finance committee of CERN, while the Ambassador himself and the INFN President are the national representatives on the CERN Council.

For INFN, the most profitable collaboration is obviously the one with CERN.
Yes, INFN is clearly highly focused on CERN. In this case, our task is to check that the cooperation between the two institutions continues as in the past, because relations are really excellent, perfect, I would say. At CERN, INFN is very present at all levels, not only scientific and managerial: it is worth noting, for example, the participation of Italian students, who have success in the international calls because - it has to be said - they are really clever. And we are equally valid in outreach: this year, in the competition addressed to schools, which CERN promotes throughout the world, "A Beamline for School", one of the two winners is an Italian high school.

And then, always linked to CERN, the question of the industrial return is important.
Of course, for Italy, the Industrial return that derives from the CERN projects is a relevant aspect, both for politics and for public opinion. Our country is the fourth contributor to CERN, after Germany, England and France: we therefore expect a return for our companies; the orders have to be consistent with the investment. We also work for this, in order to find the right channels to increase the presence of our industry in the technological projects developed at CERN. This takes place also thanks to the serious and constant work that the ILO (Industrial Liaison Officer) carries out. The next interesting opportunity is offered by the HiLumi LHC project, for which the awarding of the contracts has already begun. From Italy's viewpoint, the coordination with the HiLumi top management is perfect, and the ILO has done an excellent job in identifying the industrial sectors that could be more favourable for the participation of our companies. For example, Italians are very good at developing high-temperature superconductors and, in fact, we have recently been awarded contracts in this sector. HiLumi represents an interesting scientific and technological opportunity, and I'm certain that Italy will play its part well on this competitive international terrain.

In addition to CERN, what other international institutions do you liaise with?
As the Scientific Attaché, I also follow the WMO and the ITU, which are both UN agencies. In addition, I work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the various organisations that deal with the environment, like the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). What I mainly do in these organisations is to maintain contacts with the Italian staff, to understand whether Italy is suitably represented, or if there is discrimination, if we have claims to make or unsolved problems for which a solution has to be found. Then I try to understand whether Italy uses these organisations well. With CERN, coordination is perfect, because an institution like INFN follows it. In the other organisations, this is not the case and the situation is not so clear. I have to understand, for example, if it is possible to promote additional cooperation as well as that already existing with our research institutes, our universities, and so on, and if there is Italian research or technology that can be usefully exploited to develop projects within the international organisations.

What is the situation with the other international organisations?
In the light of the profitable industrial presence in the CERN projects, as the Permanent Mission, we have looked around to understand whether other international organisations could offer good opportunities for Italian industry. I think there are interesting possibilities, we must, therefore, foster the creation of new relationships. This is why we are organising, for the end of October, at the MAECI (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), a day of contact between the international organisations present in Geneva and the Italian industrial world; to explain the possibilities that exist and how to participate and collaborate.

And as far as concerns the INFN?
I think INFN has certain skills that can also be used in other sectors: I'm thinking of computing, for example. It's a sphere in which INFN excels for what concerns research and development, and it is at the cutting edge, because it's a sector in which it has always been engaged for the intrinsic needs of the activity of particle physics research; computing which can be fruitfully used, for example, in meteorology studies.

In this context, what are relations like between Italy and Switzerland?
Italy has a network of scientific attachés which - I have to say - other countries envy us: it has about 25 scientific attachés in the world who, as I said, are active in the embassies and who follow scientific and technological relations between Italy and the various countries. There are, however, exceptions: one is myself, since I'm not based at the Embassy in Berne but in Geneva. On the other hand, there is no scientific attaché who specifically follows the rest of Switzerland. At present, the MAECI is considering how to deal with this aspect; whether to appoint another person or to expand my own area of competence to the rest of Switzerland is being discussed. Certainly, relations with scientific institutes such as the PSI (Paul Scherrer Institut) or the Zurich and Lausanne Polytechnics, with which Italy already collaborates, are interesting for us and they can be further developed.

How do you operate?
We look with attention at the Italian situation and we speak with the national institutions such as the CRUI (Conference of Italian University Rectors) or the research bodies, in order to create new contacts with the organisations in Geneva. This year, in April, an agreement was signed with the WMO, the MAECI and an institute of the CNR (Italian National Research Council) to promote actions aimed at instructing the farmers in the Niger region on how to deal with the effects of the drought. A problem like this has repercussions also on us: improving the living conditions in the Niger region, in fact, also means contributing to mitigate one of the causes that favour the migration phenomenon. Now, however, we are assessing, together with the ASI (Italian Space Agency) and the WMO, the possibility of using satellite data for a constant and complete mapping of the North Pole, with particular interest in the North-West Passage.
In general, we have to make efforts in order to overcome the tendency to consider with interest only relations with Brussels and with the European Union because that is where the funds come from. The international organisations in Geneva, even if they are not the source of financing, can represent an excellent and very effective showcase for presenting their validity at international level. The ITU, for example, is a body that issues standards and exploits this opportunity to "impose" know-how that our industries already have. This certainly represents a good incentive for cooperation.

What conclusions can be drawn?
My experience, after a year as the Scientific Attaché in Geneva, is that Italians have many high-level skills. I therefore believe that there is still room to increase the opportunities for cooperation between our country and the international organisations, and that we can further exploit our resources, that are based on a strong scientific and technological background. ▪

Eugenio Nappi | Interview with Eugenio Nappi, member of the Executive Board of INFN and its representative for research projects in experimental nuclear physics.

Interview with Eugenio Nappi, member of the Executive Board of INFN and its representative for research projects in experimental nuclear physics.

Experimental nuclear physics represents the link between the study of the primordial stages of the universe, carried out with the aid of large particle accelerators, and research into star, galaxy and galaxy cluster formation mechanisms, with experiments on nuclei stability and exotic nuclei production. At INFN, research activities in this field are carried out in the four national laboratories, at TIFPA (Trento Institute for Fundamental Physics Applications) and in several divisions, with important repercussions in various fields other than fundamental research, such as medical physics, physics for the cultural heritage, energy research and development of new materials and technologies for nuclear safety.

The INFN is engaged in several projects on experimental nuclear physics, ranging from fundamental physics to medical applications. How are the various activities coordinated in the Institute?
The coordination of experimental nuclear physics research activities in INFN is carried out by the third National Scientific Commission (CSN3)  which establishes the priorities and funding of individual projects. But the broad spectrum of research activities in this field doesn't end with CSN3.
Since 2006, following the signing of a collaboration agreement between INFN and Ansaldo Nucleare, the development of skills and instruments in the field of nuclear physics applications in the energy sector, with particular attention to safety issues, is coordinated by the INFN-E strategic project. Since 2012, INFN-E has an annual budget of 200.000 euros. Also to be listed are the many nuclear physics activities related to the fifth National Scientific Board (CSN5), dedicated to technological developments. Among these, a very important role is played by medical applications that, in the development of diagnostic systems and the related simulation and analysis software, are rooted in a tradition of excellence of INFN. With the appointment of Marco Durante, an internationally renowned expert in hadron-therapy, as Director of TIFPA, we wanted to give a strong impetus to activities in the field of particle beam therapy techniques.
Again within the scope of CSN5, the activities related to nuclear physics applied to the cultural heritage, environmental pollution monitoring and detector and accelerator development are of great importance.

How does the INFN's strategy fit into the European scenario?
Priorities in funding nuclear physics activities are established by CSN3 in complete harmony with the guidelines of NuPECC, the European Coordinating Committee, which recently completed the work of drafting the Long Range Plan, the European roadmap for nuclear physics, whose conclusions will be presented on 27 November in Brussels. In particular, INFN's nuclear physics projects, following international nomenclature, belong to two major research branches: nuclear structure and hadronic physics. In the first case, the aim is the study of the nucleus as a composite system, to investigate the characteristics of radioactive vs stable atoms, the evolution of the universe and the formation of stars. Internationally, major investments are in progress to implement research infrastructures that accelerate exotic radioactive nuclear beams. In this context, the project on which the Institute is focussing is SPES (Selective Production of Exotic Species) at the Legnaro National Laboratories. In parallel with fundamental research, SPES will allow new radiopharmaceuticals to be synthesised for medical diagnostics.
The second branch, hadronic physics, is closer to the objectives and experimental techniques of research in high energy physics, coordinated in the Institute by CSN1. Hadronic physics represents the link between elementary particle physics and nuclear structure physics. In other words, hadronic physics aims to study the mechanisms by which the fundamental constituents of nucleons, quarks and gluons contribute to defining the actual properties of the nucleus. The most wide-ranging international hadronic physics initiatives in which the Institute is participating are ALICE, at CERN, and the experiments in progress at the Jefferson lab in the US and, in perspective, those that will be implemented at the EIC-Electron Ion Collider currently being designed in the United States (at the Brookhaven National Laboratory or at Jlab).

What are the objectives of the strategic INFN-E project?
The activities of INFN-E focus in particular on the following two lines of action. The first concerns the dismantling of nuclear sites, management of radioactive material repositories, personnel protection at nuclear sites and security. The second deals with contacts with organisations dedicated to energy issues, such as Ansaldo Nucleare, ASG Superconductors, CAEN, Gilardoni and the Euratom-Ispra Joint Research Center. In these areas, INFN-E acts as both an incubator for the development of products to be offered to industries and other entities, as well as an initiative centre for forms of external financing.

What is the institute's involvement in experimental nuclear physics at the international level?
INFN contributes at the international level to all the most important initiatives in the field, with top level presence in the main European and global management committees. At the European level, Angela Bracco, from the University and INFN Milan Section, is in his second term as Chairman of NuPECC.
Nicola Bianchi from the Frascati National Laboratories is head of the EPS-NPB (European Physical Society – Nuclear Physics Board) since 1 January 2017. I myself have for three years been a member of the IUPAP C12 (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics – Nuclear Physics) and of the ICFA panel for the development of new detectors.
Paolo Giubellino, from the INFN Turin division, formerly spokesperson of ALICE, was appointed a few months ago as Scientific Director of FAIR in Darmstadt, Germany, a new research infrastructure, under construction, which from 2020 will become the most important German nuclear physics laboratory.  Since the beginning of the present year, another INFN researcher is spokesperson of the ALICE experiment at CERN. From September 2017, Raffaella De Vita, from the INFN Genoa Section, will take on the role of spokesperson of the CLAS12 experiment at Jlab (of which Patrizia Rossi, LNF, has been deputy director for about 5 years). Recently, an Italian researcher from the Frascati National Laboratories, Catalina Curceanu, received the EPS “Emma Noether Distinction” Prize for women who have proven to be excellent in nuclear physics research at the European level.

Which are the main future nuclear physics research initiatives in Italy?
At the Legnaro National Laboratories, the SPES project, starting in 2019, is currently being installed. At the Southern Laboratories, the NUMEN (NUclear Matrix Elements of Neutrinoless double beta decay) project has important implications in astroparticle physics, in particular for the study of neutrinos and dark matter.
At the Gran Sasso National Laboratories, the most ambitious project is LUNA MV (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics-Mega Volts), an experiment in nuclear astrophysics which is expected to start within a couple of years, consisting of a research infrastructure able to study the formation of nuclei using an accelerator capable of producing nuclear reactions at energies comparable to those that occur in the stars. In 2018 SIDDHARTA - intended for fundamental research in nuclear physics - will enter into operation at the Frascati Laboratories, at the end of the KLOE (K-LOng Experiment experiment), currently in progress at the Dafne accelerator. In Trento, the TIFPA is engaged in the application of and research on oncological hadron-therapy, not only for treating patients but also for the study of therapy optimisation techniques.