Joanne McCarthy

Head of the User Office

I coach 30 women’s elite division rugby players in my free time. I love to lead the team, to try to make them stronger by working better together.  I am very curious and enjoy observing how things work and trying to improve on them. In rugby, that’s an important strategy to drive women with very individual strengths and weaknesses, and get each of them to contribute to playing together as a finely tuned machine. The same happens at the ESRF: great technological innovation is less powerful if the process of gaining access to that technology by the scientific community who can exploit it is shabby. Excellent beamlines should have an excellent and efficient way of accessing them. I run the User Office, which is a bit like the glue in the system: it joins all the parts together, streamlining how scientists come here, get to the right equipment, get their samples authorised, travel here and have the best possible experience.  One of my biggest achievements is having changed the way we allocate beamtime to proposals at the ESRF, with external experts of beamline-based panels being given the responsibility for choosing the full selection of projects for each beamline. We’ve come a long way, but there are still many improvements to be made and that is my focus in the near future. For me, innovation means being a leader, having ideas and being the driving force for change and progress. I think we need to lead the way in beamtime access in the same way that we’re leading the field in synchrotron technology.”


Please turn your device