Five people who have played instrumental roles in the establishment of SESAME learned today that they are to receive the 2019 AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy. The award will be presented on 15 February at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The recipients include two former CERN Directors-General, Herwig Schopper and Chris Llewellyn Smith, who served as SESAME’s first and second Presidents of Council, steering the fledgling laboratory from the germ of an idea to a fully functional intergovernmental research institution, which was inaugurated in 2017. SESAME Director Khaled Toukan, Council member Eliezer Rabinovici and former Scientific Advisory Committee Chair Zehra Sayers are the other recipients.
“The AAAS Award brings well-deserved recognition to SESAME,” said CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti, “not only for the five recipients whose roles have been so important, but also for the whole of the SESAME community. CERN’s congratulations go to them all.”
CERN has a strong relationship with SESAME, which is an intergovernmental organisation established on the CERN model under the auspices of UNESCO. Like CERN, SESAME has a dual mandate to provide a world-class centre for scientific excellence and a focal point for regional scientific collaboration. CERN’s biggest contribution to SESAME came in the form of the EU-funded CESSAMag project, through which CERN oversaw the design, construction and testing of the magnet system for the SESAME main ring – the heart of the facility. CERN continues to support SESAME through the EU’s OPEN SESAME project, which is providing training and support to SESAME, largely through thematic schools and exchanges between SESAME personnel and personnel from European laboratories. CERN also has Observer status at the SESAME Council.
SESAME’s experimental programme got underway in 2018, and its first peer-reviewed papers are eagerly anticipated.