Former Women @CERN

Corinna Martinella

Corinna’s backpack is full of dreams waiting to come true. The first of many? To finish writing her thesis. As soon as she defends it, she will close a chapter, a very special one.

Corinna first came to CERN in 2015 as a Technical Student. She had studied a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, where she moved when she was nineteen. After that, as she wanted to focus on nuclear technologies, she decided to study a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering. Shorty after finishing it, she came back to CERN, this time as a Doctoral Student in Physics.

For five years now, Corinna has been a CERNie. Somehow, she still is. Even if she is not physically working there, her PhD is carried out in a collaboration between CERN, the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and ETH in Zurich, where Einstein and Mileva Marić also spent a chapter of their lives.

But Corinna already misses the people and, no doubt, the R1 which, every Friday, became the nerve center of CERN. It was a must-attend date, a holy place where the stress of the week was relieved by beers and good conversations (some of them with strangers, at least until then).

She fondly remembers playing volleyball there, lots of cheers! and a few farewell parties. Also, the CERN Photo Club sessions, where she learned to stop using the automatic mode. Corinna also joined the only women’s football team at CERN, Scrambled Leggs. It was not a winning team, but they enjoyed every game. Those moments will always be kept in her backpack.

In addition to growing a lot as a scientist, at CERN she became a person she did not imagine five years ago, but this did not come for free! Corinna found herself many times out of her comfort zone, facing situations that are not always as pleasant as we wish, but she did it and the feeling afterwards was very satisfying. That also makes us the person we are today.

She felt like a sponge absorbing lots of information from the people around her. Really smart people and women leaders who changed a lot her world view: unwittingly, they helped her to change and to design her own glasses with which to see reality.

Corinna is very passionate about what she does, as did Oriana Fallaci, the first female Italian war correspondent, world-renowned for her peculiar interviews. She used to say that wars were like madhouses, and those who were in them were their patients.

To Corinna, it is in the CERN’s purpose where beauty is hidden. Using science for peace, seeing how people from different cultures and religions (even from countries currently involved in armed conflicts) collaborate with the sole aim to discover what the universe is made of, and how it works. According to Fallaci’s simile, Corinna would be one of the madhouse’ psychiatrists.

People like her try to push the boundaries of the human knowledge farther and farther every day. She is sure that this is the miracle of research. In the words of Lise Meitner, the pioneering woman behind nuclear fission: “Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist”.

Corinna would love to use her knowledge and her technical skills for humanitarian purposes. She has always been interested in disarmament, specifically in nuclear disarmament. So, when she grows up, she would be happy actively working on this. That is why another one of the dreams she keeps in his backpack is to find, after her PhD, a postdoctoral project which will allow her to work on this topic.

Meanwhile? She wishes she had the time to travel around the world. Corinna, who was born in small town in the north of Italy close to the Swiss border, is a globetrotter, in whose mind there is something that has been going around for a long time: to take part in the Mongol Rally, a charity rally from Prague to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. There is no set route. Nor is there a fixed deadline. It is the magic of the adventure, with its contingencies and surprises. If 2021 allows it, this will be another dream come true for Corinna.

As Francesco Guccini sang, “un orizzonte insegue un orizzonte; a un’autostrada, un’altra seguirà”. A dream will follow a dream, one goal will chase another one. Because “gli spazi sono fatti per andare”, and Corinna will find in them her freedom. “La sua libertà”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *