Research institute denies scholarship to best young physicist in Europe

Spaniard Martínez Santos wishes to return home after successful period at the CERN in Geneva

Diego Martínez Santos. © USC
Diego Martínez Santos. © USCEL PAÍS

Spanish physicist Diego Martínez Santos was denied a scholarship with the Ramón y Cajal Institute, which repatriates the country’s top scientific investigators under the auspices of the research and development department of the Economy Ministry, for what it termed “a lack of international leadership.”

On the very same day the commission denied Santos’s application, the 30-year-old from Foz in Lugo province was named the best young physicist on the continent by the European Physical Society (EPS), an award granted every two years.

After graduating from the physics faculty at the University of Santiago, where he penned a “magnificent thesis,” in the words of university dean Carlos Pajares, Santos was contracted for three years by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva. His work there on the Large Hadron Collider and B mesons in particular earned him the European accolade. When his contract at CERN expired he was taken on by the National Institute for Subatomic Physics in the Netherlands, where he began work six months ago.

But Santos’s desire was to return to Santiago or elsewhere in Spain or Italy, “where it’s not as cold as it is here,” he told the daily Voz de Galicia.

“The Ramón y Cajal program is for people under 35 and probably [the commission] favored those approaching that age so they wouldn’t be excluded definitively,” said Pajares. “I suppose that as Diego is younger, they felt he would have further opportunities.”

Santos can reapply next year, although he has not yet decided whether to do so.

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