Ciao from the European Complex Plasma Network

Personal Profile

Gianfranco Sorasio is an Italian, from Saluzzo, a wonderful little village located in the North part of Italy, not far from the french border and right at the beginning of the Pianura Padana, the main italian plain.
He is working on his research program in Lisbon, Portugal and he is a PhD student of Umea University, Sweden.

CPL is very fortunate to have the opportunity to interview one of the rising young researchers, Gianfranco Sorasio from Portugal, Lisbon at the Instituto Superior Tecnico. He is one of the members of the European Complex Plasma Network (ECPN). Today he is here to give us some information about his work, ECPN and the people involved with ECPN. He will also provide us with an insight to the problems current European students face in their reseach career.

F: Felix Cheung
G: Gianfranco Sorasio

F: It has been a long time since we last heard from you at the 3rd ICPDP in Durban. What have you been doing lately in complex plasma?

G: Now I am working in Portugal, Lisbon at the Instituto Superior Tecnico with David Resendes, the coordinator of the project and my scientific guide, together with Padma Shukla and Lennart Stenflo. In the past, I worked mainly on the theoretical analysis of the dynamics of a dust particle in plasma sheaths, from nonlinear to self-excited oscillations. I am currently working on some dusty plasma wave problems.

F: Prof. Shukla is one of the most active people in the field of complex plasma. Can you tell us how you started working with him and got yourself into the field of complex plasma?

G: Ok .. in 1999, I was working in California, San Diego at the UCSD with Asoka Mendis and Marlene Rosenberg. One day around 7 pm, I was packing my things to go surfing when a visiting professor, Padma Kant Shukla, asked me some help on some stuff he was preparing. So that's how I met the person who brought me back to Europe and who is my PhD advisor together with Lennart Stenflo.
I found out later that Padma, together with David Resendes, Tito Mendonça and Bob Bingham, is a member of the steering commitee of the European Complex Plasma Network (CPN).

F: I think most of the readers are not quite familiar with ECPN. Can you say a few words about the function of ECPN?

G: ECPN is a research project founded within the Fifth Framework of the European Community. The main aim of the network is to provide training to the young researchers. In fact, in order to be founded from the EU, 60 % of the money must be spent to train young researcher. This is actually a great opportunity for all the european students, both doctoral and PhD. There are obviously some rules that have to be accomplished in order to get the money: the researcher must work outside his own country, below 35 and must be citizen of the european countries (this rule will drop in the near future). The total amount of money for 3 years project is about 1.2 Million Euro.

F: Who is actually involved in this research project. What type of research are they doing?

G: As far as I know, the students involved are Milenko Zuzich and Vedad Hadziavdic. And they are working on plasma crystal experiments and theories. In the network there are alot of nice guys, like Vedad or Milenko, from different parts of Europe. Anytime we go to a conference we always have a lot of fun together ... with some beers and stuff as you know.
The reasearch program varies depending on the location. In Munich (Germany), they do mainly plasma crystal experiments. On the other hand, in Bochum (Germany) and Lisbon we do alot of theories. In Rutherford (U.K.), they do numerics. And in Tromso (Norway), they do experiments and monitoring of atmosphere.

F: What are some of the difficult issues you are facing at the moment?

G: Well, the ECPN will end in 2004. It ends because, as a rule, it can last for 3 years with an extension of 1 year if needed. And so my project will end in 2004. This does not mean that a new proposal could not be submitted. It is just that the present project ends in 2004. Furthermore, another rule of the european projects is that people who worked in a foreign country for more that one year, in the last two years, cannot be hired in that country. In simple words, I will have to move away from Portugal and I guess the best will be to find something in Italy. So if somebody has a permanent position for me in Italy please go ahead and write me now... hahahaha.
The main problem for young reasearchers moving away from their homeland is returning back to their own country. And in my case, now in Italy the situation is so bad that I don't know what can be done. There is the usual italian problem that the University is close to external students. I think that in 2001, more that 90 % of the vacancies were assigned to people who were already working in the same univeristy, in the same department. So it is really difficult for me to get a position in Italy.

F: Thanks for being with us here today.

G: My pleasure. And thankyou for giving me this opportunity


Felix Cheung





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