Meet Katie Larkin, Jameson O’Reilly, and Preston Epps. Three fourth year students who spent the last six months living and working abroad at one of the world’s largest centers for scientific research – the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, more commonly known as CERN. Home to the largest particle physics laboratory composed of gigantic particle accelerators and detectors and many other instruments, CERN focuses much of its research on understanding fundamental particles and the forces that hold them together. These are the tiniest pieces that make up all matter – everything in the universe. With over 10,000 scientists from more than 100 nationalities, CERN is a place of true collaboration and diversity with a common goal in mind to further human knowledge. For Northeastern’s three spring 2017 co-ops, this was an opportunity of a lifetime, and a long-time dream for them.
Why did you want to work at CERN?
For physics and math combined majors O’Reilly and Epps, they’ve been dreaming of working at CERN since high school.
“In physics, it’s kind of like the mecca for us,” Epps said. “I remember being so excited the day they discovered the Higgs Boson particle at CERN. I ran around to tell everyone I knew. It’s always been the place in my mind for particle physics.”
“It’s this incredible place where thousands of people are doing thousands of amazing things,” he said. “It’s just wild. Part of the reason I chose to come to Northeastern was because I knew this co-op existed.”
For Larkin, her experience was a little bit different. As a biomedical physics major hoping to delve into a career in science policy, she was excited to get excellent research experience but also the privilege to work at a science collaboration like CERN, in Geneva, a center for diplomacy and incredible science all at once.