Yves Petroff

Former ESRF Director General, Head of the Brazilian Synchrotron

After a 15-16 hour stint of working on a beamline, driving home is not a good idea. When I worked at LURE in Orsay, I had plenty experience of working late. So when I joined the ESRF, just before the start of user operation, I strongly pushed to have a guesthouse on site, although no budget had been planned for this. In the end, we managed to design a guesthouse with two floors and no lifts so users wouldn’t be disturbed by noise at any time of the day or night. The savings we made from housing users on site rather than in costly hotels in town, plus efforts by ESRF staff to secure travel deals for users, meant the guesthouse was auto-financed over just a few years. In fact, the savings were so consequential that we were also able to propose the post-doc programme I had been pushing for, and we launched it with the creation of 50 positions. For me, the ESRF had another issue - I couldn’t conceive it as just a user facility, like it was supposed to be. With the Directors of Research, I strongly supported an in-house scientific programme. It proved a valid argument and we were able to recruit top quality researchers from the best European universities. The ESRF has maintained and developed these programmes since the early days. I believe that the comfort of close accommodation, good food, a great environment and in-house expertise are all part of the integrated package that benefits the scientific output of the facility and contributes to the ESRF’s leading position in synchrotron science today.”

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