Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN: INSIGHTS

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The EU-funded Horizon 2020 programme has two main strategic objectives: to strengthen the scientific and technological base of European industry and to encourage its international competitiveness, while promoting research that supports EU policies.

INSIGHTS is a 4-year Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks project for the career development of 12 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) at 10 partner institutions across Europe. Two of the INSIGHTS research projects will be carried out at INFN and University of Federico II in Naples. INSIGHTS is focused on applying latest advances in statistics and in particular, machine learning to particle physics.

The environment

The Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) is the Italian research agency dedicated to the study of the fundamental constituents of matter and the laws that govern them. It conducts theoretical and experimental research in the fields of subnuclear, nuclear and astroparticle physics. Fundamental research in these areas requires the use of cutting- edge technologies and instrumentation, which the INFN develops both in its own laboratories and in collaboration with the world of industry. The Institute is strongly involved into transferring technology to high-tech industrial firms.

The Naples INFN Unit participates in more than twenty international collaboration carrying on experiments in nuclear, particle and astroparticle physics.

The University of Naples Federico II is one of the largest and most prestigious Universities in Italy, the oldest state-founded university in the world, being founded in 1224 by Frederick II Hohenstaufen, King of Sicily and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. It includes a strong Department of Physics, with over 120 faculty members active in all fields. The Physics Department works in close collaboration with the INFN unit and participates to several international experiments worldwide like ATLAS, CMS and SHiP at CERN, Belle-II at KEK, OPERA and NEWSdm at Gran Sasso.

When you're part of INSIGHTS with INFN Naples and University of Naples, you will join a dynamic research team that values science, technology, creativity and quality. We encourage new ideas from young scientists. You will work with a supportive international team that includes enthusiastic young scientists as well as senior experimental and data science experts in high-energy physics. INSIGHTS at Naples will have two Ph.D. positions to carry out an experimental thesis on the items below:

  1. Search for physics beyond the Standard Model in events with top quarks in the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. The ESR will play a leading role in data analysis and will contribute to the development of software tools to model the probability distribution in the signal and control samples based on the RooFit/RooStats framework. The project is expected to provide a key contribution to CMS publications and an original research paper on statistical tools and modelling of systematic uncertainties.
    Two secondments are foreseen for this project:
    - at Max Plank Institut für Physik, Munich, for development of Bayesian analysis tools using the CMS measurement as benchmark;
    - at National Institute for Geophisycs and Volcanology (INGV), Naples, for application of statistical methods from high-energy physics to volcanology and seismology data for eruption prediction models.
  2. Machine learning techniques applied to the analysis of nuclear emulsions for dark matter search and neutrino physics. Identification of galactic dark matter with directional sensitive detectors allows extending the sensitivity beyond the so-called neutrino floor. Nuclear emulsions are a sub-micrometric accuracy detector with the potential to identify dark matter induced recoils and measure their direction as explored in the NEWSdm experiment at Gran Sasso. At a different energy scale, the search for ultra-relativistic dark matter is planned at the SHiP experiment at CERN. With the available energies, dark matter scatterings off electrons are indeed similar to electron neutrino interactions. The ESR will have to develop machine learning based analyses to exploit the nuclear emulsion potentiality of identifying nanometric recoils and discriminate against possible backgrounds. Moreover, the ESR will also contribute to the dark matter identification in the SHiP project.
    Two secondments are foreseen for this project:
    - at Yandex, Moscow, for development of Deep Learning tools
    - at Digitalcomoedia, Naples, for application of Deep Learning to image recognition in real-time applications

In addition to the scientific research and training, complementary training (such as communication and management) will enhance researchers' career prospects in both the public and private sectors.

How can you take part?

Do you have a degree in Physics or a closely-related science allowing you to embark on a doctorate?
Do you have strong computational and data analysis skills?
Are you familiar with high-energy physics data analysis?
Do you have experience with software development?
Are you an highly organised person with independent, self-driven personality?
Do you have good communication skills, and good spoken and written English?

Role Description

The following ESR positions are open:

  • ESR 2 - 36 months, employed by INFN - Naples Unit
  • ESR 4 - 36 months, employed by University of Naples Federico II

Both positions will be enrolled in the PhD programme with University of Naples Federico II. Eligibility conditions ESRs must, at the time of recruitment:

  1.  be in possession of a university degree allowing them to embark on a doctorate, and
  2.  have a maximum of four years of full-time research experience, including any period of research training, after obtaining the degree which formally allowed them to embark on a doctorate in the country in which the degree/diploma was obtained or in the host country (irrespective of whether or not a doctorate was envisaged).

ESRs cannot be PhD holders at the start of their employment contract.

The European Commission's mobility rules state: At the time of recruitment by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date. Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.

Proficiency in English is required.

What We Offer

  • Employment contract and salary according to the Marie Curie action
  • In accordance with the European Commission's allowances for ITNs, there is an additional training allowance to cover training activities, conference attendance, etc. Selection Procedure

More information will be given on this page as soon as applications will be opened.

For additional information on this ESR position, please contact: