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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Faculty of Science and Technology

Yuliia Balkova

28.06.2021 - 18:10 update 20.07.2021 - 11:30
Editors: jp
Tags: PL30CERN

CERN | My story


Yuliia Balkova
photo from the private archive

YULIIA BALKOVA, MSc


Sometimes it’s unimaginable how many skills and opportunities for growth were provided to me just by one two-month visit that started it all. But amazing things are happening right now and will continue to take place in the future!

CERN MY STORY

My adventure with CERN started back when I didn’t really think I would come to study in Poland. I come from Ukraine, and I studied at Kharkiv National University named after V.N. Karazin at the Faculty of Physics and Technology, where I worked on plasma physics. After my third year of undergraduate studies, I was selected, as one of two students representing Ukraine, to participate in the CERN Summer Student Programme. It was my first visit to the research unit of my dreams, the unit that every scientist, regardless of his or her area of interest, wants to visit at least once in their lifetime.

During my stay at CERN, I was assigned to the international experiment NA61/SHINE in which the vast majority of workers were Polish. My scientific supervisor was a representative of the University of Silesia, who eventually convinced me to focus on nuclear and particle physics. While working with him, I got to know the wonderful world of detectors, beams, data analysis, and nighttime shifts… The two months flew by quickly, but I already knew that this was not the end.

Less than a year later, I received a scholarship from the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange and went to Poland to get my Master’s degree in physics from the University of Silesia and, of course, to write a thesis related to the activities of the NA61/SHINE experiment. I was working on an exciting topic – measurements of active cross-sections in fragmentation processes, which are essential for interpreting the interactions of cosmic radiation traveling through the Galaxy, which is in turn crucial to understand the nature of dark matter. During my graduate studies, I went to CERN several times for shifts and worked as a beam expert, a person controlling the beam coming from the accelerator.

I am currently a PhD student at the Doctoral School at the University of Silesia in Katowice and I am still involved with the University of Silesia team in the NA61/SHINE experiment. This time I am analyzing the production of strange quark-containing particles in heavy ion collisions. These measurements are unique for studying the properties of the state of matter called quark-gluon plasma. What’s more, I’m not only focusing on data analysis, work done mainly at the computer, but I’m also participating in building the beam detectors for our experiment.

Sometimes it’s unimaginable how many skills and opportunities for growth were provided to me just by one two-month visit that started it all. But amazing things are happening right now and will continue to take place in the future!

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