Today I am actually quite proud of my research institute, the "Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, INFN, which leads Italian research in fundamental physics. In fact a selection to hire 73 new researchers with permanent positions has reached its successful conclusion. Rather than giving you my personal opinions (very positive!) I think it is better to let speak the INFN president Fernando Ferroni, and the numbers themselves. Hence, I will translate the press release of INFN (available in Italian here). Please forgive any translation mistake - I did this rather quickly ;-)

Today, December 29, the Director Board of the INFN approved the final ranking of the selections for 73 researcher positions, foreseen by the "Stability Law" of 2015. The formal act that allows their hiring is thus completed. They are 58 experimental and 15 theoretical physicists, who overall come to represent an increase of about 12% of the permanently hired researchers in INFN. 

"It is a very good end-of-the-year gift for INFN: since long we did not have a similar injection of vital lymph, due to a blockade of hirings and turn-over set to 20%, which during the past few years have conditioned our research activities" says Fernando Ferroni, INFN president. "The result of this selection" he continues "includes several reasons of satisfaction for INFN: first and foremost, the fact that our community consolidates, enriching itself of 73 brilliant researchers. This selection also offers interesting numbers, which we want to analyze very carefully, but which in the meantime already tell us that we are capable to call back excellences from abroad: about 30% of the winners todays has working posts outside the country, and 7 are the researchers with foreign passport." 

"Finally," adds Ferroni "I wish to congratulate with those who has set up and carried out the selection, both from the administrative side and in the judging phase, as given the very tight time constraints within which the procedures had to be concluded and the high participation, managing to bring home this important result was a big challenge that required a huge effort.

"For the future" concludes Ferroni "I wish that even thanks to the decreto delegato on the autonomy of Research Institutes, there be the conditions to carry out a planning on the personnel which remains regular in time, so that we may preserve the level of excellence of our physics and offer every year some opportunities to all those valid and worthy researchers who wish to take on this beautiful career".

The two national selection, for experimentalists and theorists, have been carried out entirely with online procedures. They overall received 1082 applications. 733 candidates checked in for the examinations, and 143 were successfully ranked. The average age of the 73 winners, 7 of which are women, is of little more than 33 years, the three youngest are 29 years old, and 39 are less than 33 years old. The newly hired researchers acquired their Ph.D. on average since 6 years ago (theorists) and 5 years ago (experimentalists), thus fully fulfilling the auspices contained in the Minister Decree. 

The 7 winners with foreign passport (from Belgium, Georgia, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and Thailand) and the Italians currently residing abroad (17) overall constitute a third of the selection winners. The field of research of the winners encompass all the main themes of INFN research activities, among which accelerator physics, astroparticle physics, nuclear physics, quantum theory of fields and strings, technological transfer and others. 

Another important detail of this selection is that the newly hired researchers will be free to indicate the INFN section where they wish to work, without any constraint on their research project.

Finally, the executive board and the director board of INFN are considering the possibility of a startup grant to provide personally to the newly hired, to enrich their curriculum, independently from the chosen research site and experiment, and also in view of their participation to international grant applications.