Solveig Albrand Receives the CNRS Cristal Award

7 April 2008

Solveig Albrand

The “Cristal” was created in 1992 by the CNRS, National Centre for Research in Science in France, to honour each year its engineers, technicians and administrative personnel. It rewards, those working tightly with the researchers and who contribute, thanks to their creativity, skills and innovative spirit, to the progress of knowledge and the scientific discoveries. 16 Crystals were awarded in 2007.

Solveig Albrand, computer engineer in the ATLAS experiment and project leader of the AMI and Tag Collector ATLAS middleware, is one of the two 2007 laureates for the IN2P3.

Solveig Albrand is British in origin, but put down roots in Grenoble, France almost 30 years ago. After graduating from the University of Sussex, she obtained her Ph. D. in nuclear magnetic resonance at Queen Mary College, University of London, and later completed a Master’s degree in Computing Science at the University of Grenoble.

Solveig has worked for ATLAS since 2000, when she was asked by Johann Collot, who at the time was the Grenoble ATLAS group leader and the LAr software coordinator, to contribute to the LAr software effort. One thing lead to another and at present, together with her team of Jerome Fulachier and Fabian Lambert, she works on two essential tools for ATLAS: the “Tag Collector” and the “AMI” dataset selection application (

Solveig started work at the LPSC in 1983, where one of her first tasks was to introduce some computer based controls and commands to the heavy ion accelerator SARA (“Système Accélérateur Rhône-Alpes”). She reminisces “at that time I even wrote my own database application – a far cry from ORACLE which we use today for AMI!”. She quickly realized that a network of the new “IBM compatible” PCs would be better than the centralized architecture conventionally used at the time. This idea was considered rather revolutionary by the direction – but it was eventually permitted. A few years later Solveig was among the first in the IN2P3 to use the object oriented paradigm.

After SARA was closed at the end of the 90s, Solveig and her group worked on the controls of the accelerator GENEPI, a generator of intense neutron pulses, which was coupled to the nuclear reactor MASURCA at Cadarache. The control system has proved very reliable and robust. It has been running almost without maintenance since its installation.

Her early experience in the SARA technical team, left her with the very firm conviction that the key to success is good team work, based on mutual respect. She remarks “Software engineers can have quite a hard time working with physicists, because after all any physicist can write a few lines of code. However what is rather more difficult to do is to lay down an architecture which can allow an application to evolve with the user requirements over a period of many years. We hope we have achieved this with the AMI and Tag Collector design which was established in 2002.”

In her spare time, Solveig is an enthusiastic amateur operatic soprano. One of her most exciting recent experiences was singing the role of Mallika in the opera “Lakmé” of Leo Delibes.

Colin Barras


Fa´rouz Malek

LPSC Grenoble