Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - COFUND-CERN-2011 (COFUNDing of the CERN Fellowship Programme 2011)

CERN has been operating its international Fellowship programme since the 1960s. Scientists and engineers within ten years of finishing their Bachelor or Master degree may take up challenging opportunities to work in particle physics and in related fields of physics and engineering. The programme provides an excellent career development possibility to do work and carry out research in fields of science and technology at the highest level. It has its own dedicated website ( with a connected special COFUND website (

COFUND-CERN-2011 is the third out of four COFUND grants to complement the CERN Fellowship programme. This allows CERN to offer three-year contracts instead of the standard two-year duration. Areas in which COFUND Fellows can be recruited include experimental particle physics, theoretical particle physics, astroparticle physics and cosmology, accelerator physics, detector technologies, information technology, data acquisition and controls technologies, magnet technology, radio frequency technology, electrical engineering, electronics, cryogenics and dissemination of scientific results and technology transfer.

A major feature offered to COFUNDed Fellows was the possibility of spending up to twelve months of the Fellowship at a university, research institute or an industrial company of their choice outside CERN while working on a topic that is still related to the original work at CERN; during this time, the COFUND Fellow remains under full CERN employment contract. We have seen several requests to take up this option and Fellows have spent time both in academia and in private industry.

COFUND is open to all nationalities. Applicants must have a PhD or at least four years of experience after the degree which gives access to doctoral programmes and a maximum of ten years of experience after the degree which gives access to doctoral programmes. The Fellows on COFUND-CERN-2011 were selected over four Fellow selection committees (one in 2012, two in 2013 and one in 2014) such that their three-year contracts finish by the end of the COFUND-2011 grant agreement. In addition to nationals from EU member states, there are scientists and engineers from Armenia, China, Cuba, Russia, Switzerland and the USA.

COFUND Fellows are the highest-ranked applicants. The possibility of spending time outside CERN fosters international cooperation and enables scientists and engineers to gain an insight into leading fields of knowledge of technology and science to become the innovators of tomorrow. Past experience has shown the usefulness of such a secondment with some COFUNDers having been recruited by the secondment host at the end of their Fellowship.

A new feature that was introduced during COFUND-CERN-2011 was the opening of a position to candidates for a post-career break Fellowship. Although initially intended for the general CERN Fellowship programme, we were pleased to be able to appoint two researchers under this Grant: firstly a female Armenian theoretical physicist who was returning to her research activities, and secondly a female Franco-American engineer. Both of these researchers were highly ranked in their fields and returning to research activities after career breaks for family reasons.

In 2014, CERN undertook an assessment of its successful COFUND grants with the help of the Science and Technology Facilities Council in the United Kingdom. Overall the results were positive with a recommendation to follow up more closely the final output of the Fellows in terms of their achievements and where they go after they finish their COFUND Fellowships. This is valuable input that CERN will pursue not just for COFUND Fellowships but for the CERN Fellowship programme in general.

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