Irène Joliot-Curie Program of the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence promotes female physicists at all stages of their careers
Support for woman in all phases of their academic careers at the cluster and in its general research environment
The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), funded through the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments, investigates central aspects of the structure of matter and the fundamental forces at work in the universe. The researchers involved are attempting to find experimental evidence of the existence of dark matter and explain how matter came into being. "One important strategic aim of PRISMA is to achieve equality between male and female scientists at the institutional and research level," emphasized Professor Hartmut Wittig, Coordinator of the PRISMA Cluster of Excellence. "We thus set up the Irène Joliot-Curie Program to support women in all phases of their scientific careers both at the cluster and in their broader research work." The program was launched in December 2013 and invites all female scientists at PRISMA to help design and structure the program by contributing their own suggestions and sharing their particular concerns. For this aim, the initiator of the Irène Joliot-Curie Program, Professor Concettina Sfienti of the Institute of Nuclear Physics at JGU, has started an online platform for interaction and communication for all the female researchers at PRISMA. "We are also planning workshops, training sessions, and lectures for which the network can suggest topics," said Sfienti.
The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is to receive approximately EUR 35 million in support from the state and federal governments over the period to 2017. A large proportion of this funding will be used by the participating particle and hadron physicists to construct MESA (Mainz Energy-recovering Superconducting Accelerator) – an innovative type of particle accelerator. The researchers hope they can use the accelerator to find direct experimental evidence of the nature of dark matter in the universe. Specifically, they intend to use MESA to find so-called dark photons, which are postulated to mediate interactions between visible and dark matter.