Planting Trees for CERN Alumni

Jan 11, 2021
Jérôme Hernandez
CERN Alumnus: Jérôme Hernandez
At CERN: Student trainee in 2014 and 2016 for the CHARM experiment
Today: Computer software engineer and student-researcher at Sorbonne University



There is a Korean proverb that says "If a tiger attacks you, you can survive if you stay calm". Even if it is preferable not to have to apply this, this proverb defines the character of Jérôme Hernandez whom I had the good fortune to meet during his two internships in the audiovisual service at CERN.

Yeon Deung Hoe 2017 (Lotus Lanterne Festival)
Jogye-sa Temple, Seoul (Photo : Nancy Radjaya)


In 2014, Jérôme is a calm, curious, ingenious and creative young student in the multimedia IUT at the Savoir Mont Blanc University. He was commissioned by the CHARM experiment to create a virtual tour in collaboration with the official CERN photographer.

"My aim was to help CHARM colleagues work more efficiently and quickly in an environment where there is a lot of radiation. I was able to work with many people from very different backgrounds and this enriching experience helped me boost my career.
In fact, I returned to CERN in 2016 for another internship in the accelerator complex environment."


In the CERN audiovisual studio (Photo: Jacques Fichet)

Arts and science in South Korea

"I then went on to study at a university in South Korea, Chonbuk National University - 전북대학교 for an IMAC engineering degree, IMAC is a state-recognized engineering school that issues an engineering degree certified by the CTI. It is the only public engineering education programme that combines art and science. I stayed for two semesters in this Korean university, in the software engineering department. After my studies, I tried to stay in this country that I love. For a French person, it is quite difficult to work in South Korea, the country is indeed quite conservative.  My research finally came to fruition and I went to work for two years in Seoul as a software engineer in virtual and augmented reality. 

Paradoxically, I love this country as much as I love the problems it causes me. Culturally and humanly, it has been a fantastic experience. I found myself alone in a country where I did not know the language, but I felt much more at ease living there than in France. Over there, at night, there is life, everything is open. The way of life seems adapted for young people. In the end, it had become my new home. In spite of the difficulties of communication and the language barrier, I was able to talk to the people around me even when they didn't speak English. The neighborhood where I lived was extremely lively and I had become "the Frenchman" of the neighborhood in a very family feeling atmosphere. I experienced some anti-white rejection, but I was able to meet many really extraordinary people who did not hesitate to share and give."

Jeonju Village - 2016 (Photo : Nancy Radjaya)


In between nostalgia and a complex work culture

"I miss Korean food very much. To tell you the truth, since I have been back I have been eating more "kimchee",(fermented Chinese cabbage in homemade hot sauce) than French bread. And most of my meals are Korean."

Traditional Korean BibimBap - Jeonju , 2016 (Photo : Nancy Radjaya)

I was extremely sad to leave, but professionally, I could no longer work in Seoul. Between communication problems - English being spoken very little in the professional world - a very particular working culture and sometimes a lot of social and cultural pressures, it was starting to become very difficult.  For example, as long as the boss did not leave the workplace, the staff could not leave either. Sometimes I ended up sleeping at my workplace, which was specially adapted for such needs (showers, beds, cafeterias)

Small kiosk at Hanok Village - Jeonju, 2016 (Photo: Nancy Radjaya)

Back in Paris, for a career in gaming    

"My new job in Paris is a result of this experience in Korea. Over there, I had felt the difficulty of working in a Korean-style professional environment. So I decided to relaunch a project I had in mind when I graduated from my engineering school. To do a thesis in a field that I am passionate about: the search for behavioral profiles through connectics, gamification (or gaming) and games for learning. I looked for funding and a thesis supervisor. My thesis supervisor works for the LIP6 computer laboratory at the University of Paris Sorbonne and I am sponsored by Origamix, a gamification  company for human resources."

Conference on Virtual Reality - Seoul 2017 (Photo: Nancy Radjaya)


A little reminder for the readers, gamification, is the integration of certain game mechanisms into processes that are not primarily intended to be playful. The aims of such a process are multiple: to make a process more attractive, to make a model more efficient, to find innovative solutions and much more! The objectives of gamification are numerous but can be summed up in a few words: commitment and user experience.

"I am currently awaiting approval from the university to start my research. This is why I am working as a "Software Engineer, full stak developper", and responsible for development and research to bring a digital dimension to the services offered by the company I work for, a dimension that did not exist before my arrival.

When I will start my research, I will become a student-researcher at the Sorbonne University and I will have the dual mission of being a computer engineer and a research and development agent for Origamix. The title of my research subject is: "Research of behavioral profiles in the field of work through cognition and serious games".

A CERN alumni group in Paris? I'm in!

When we met again at CERN, Jérôme was very pleasantly surprised to learn that there was a CERN alumni network. He would have liked this network to have existed when he was living in South Korea, perhaps to find a CERN community and support there. Today, working in Paris, he is studying the possibility of creating, with other alumni, a regional group. "It would be really interesting to meet CERN alumni in Paris and talk about our professional experiences. For example, I am a computer engineer in a psychology development office and my profile might be of interest to someone in this CERN alumni group. I would be more than willing to help him or her and to exchange ideas".

Another Korean proverb says: 나무를 심는데 가장 좋았던 때는 20년 전이었다. 두 번째로 좋은 때는 지금이다 "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

This is a call to "plant" a CERN alumni group in Paris! If you are interested in the idea of such a group, please let us know at

Author, Jacques-Hervé Fichet, CERN

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