Achintya Rao

Science Communicator, CERN · Doctoral Student, UWE Bristol

Hi! My name is AchintyaMy name is spelt ಅಚಿಂತ್ಯ in Kannada and अचिन्त्य in the Devanagari script. and I write about science. You can find me online as “RaoOfPhysics”. I was born and brought up in Bombay 🇮🇳, and have lived in Geneva 🇨🇭 since 2011. I am 33 years old.

I am a science communicator at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear ResearchCERN is sometimes known as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics., where I am also the web editor of home.cern. Before coming to CERN, I studied physics at St Xavier’s College, Bombay 🇮🇳 (BSc) and science journalism at City University London 🇬🇧 (MA).

During my evenings and weekends, I am pursuing a PhD in science communication from UWE, the University of the West of England, in Bristol 🇬🇧.

In what spare time I have, I enjoy watching and playing cricket 🏏, reading and tinkering with technology.

I am a native speaker of English but Kannada is my mother tongue. I also speak Hindi/Urdu, Marathi, and a bit of French and Spanish.

Science Communication

I have worked as a science communicator at CERN since September 2010: for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration until February 2018Here’s a Twitter thread with some of my highlights with CMS over 7.5 years. and for CERN’s Education, Communication and Outreach group in the International Relations sector since March 2018. My work mainly involves writing about physics, accelerators and engineering. As part of my job, I get to speak to a wide variety of people working at CERN and visit some of the laboratory’s most fascinating locations.

I recently spoke on the Ratio podcast about CERN and more, if you fancy a listen:

But if you are a more visual person, here’s a video of me speaking to Professor Lucie Green about CMS and particle physics:

I am an official CERN guide, and have taken hundreds of visitors on tours of the CMS experimental site located in Cessy 🇫🇷. I represent the International Relations sector at the CERN Diversity Office’s roundtable.

Here are a few of the articles I’ve written for the CERN website:

I have had the privilege of writing for the CERN Courier on a few occasions:

As a freelancer, my writing about physics news has appeared in the magazine Physics World:

What could be more fun that being paid to read books? Here are some books I have reviewed:

Open Science

Over the years, I have become an advocate for open science“The opposite of open is not closed; the opposite of open is broken.” – John Wilbanks, particularly the use of free/libre and open-source software in research. I have contributed extensively to the CERN Open Data portal, and have been involved in all four releases of open data by CMS. You can watch me speak about the project at OpenCon 2016:

Research

Since January 2014, I have been working towards a PhD in science communication from UWE. My director of studies is Dr Emma Weitkamp.

I am studying the attitudes within the particle-physics community towards public engagement with science (or outreach), the factors that influence participation in such activities and barriers that prevent participation. My research focuses on the CMS collaboration, which has over 4000 people, including physicists, engineers, technicians, computer scientists and students.

Here’s a talk about preliminary results from my research that I gave at CERN, when I was unable to travel to Chicago for the ICHEP2016 conference in 2016 due to delays in processing my visa:

I am pursuing my PhD on a part-time, distance-learning basis, and hope to finish writing my thesis in 2020. The first three years of my studies were supported by the CERN doctoral-student programme.

My ORCID is 0000-0002-1628-2618.

Interests

I was trained in Indian classical music 🎶: Carnatic vocals for six years and the tabla for three years. Sometimes, I pick up a guitar and strum a few chords, or pretend to play the blues on my harmonica.

I enjoy watching, playing and generally following cricket 🏏 and I play for the CERN Cricket Club; I am a right-arm swing bowler and bat right-handed (usually at #11). Occasionally, I play table tennis 🏓 and have also trained a bit in martial arts 🥋 – karate and taekwondo.

I love tinkering with software and hardware, and my desktop at home and laptop at work both run Kubuntu 🐧. I am teaching myself the 🇷 language, mainly for my research.

I contribute to the Mozilla 🦊 community: I hosted a couple of Mozilla Science Lab global sprints at CERN, started the (now-on-hiatus) Mozilla Study Group at CERN and mentored several projects as part of the Mozilla Open Leaders programme.

Contact

I can be found online on several platforms:

Alternatively, feel free to drop me an e-mail to achintya.rao@cern.ch or simply a.r@cern.ch. My public-key fingerprint is 3B78 862A 0A60 3D7E 6A8A 1EE1 E76E B15E 4160 0AF4.