Dr. Maja Kovac is a researcher, driven by curiosity and a passion for scientific discovery. As a member of the ATLAS Collaboration, the largest experiment in CERN's Large Hadron Collider and one of the largest scientific collaborations in the world, she is an expert in physics beyond the standard model and in the study of Dark Matter.

Maja is about to present to an international crowd of scientists her discovery. The findings of her research team which are being met with acclaim and commented worldwide and have the potential to change our very understanding of the Universe. Undoubtedly, Maja’s discovery will change the world. But how did she get to this result?

Of course, the breakthrough comes as the final stage in a long journey, made of many years of intense study and research, thanks to the dedicated team she is leading combined with the collective effort of the thousands of physicists, engineers, technicians and students involved in the ATLAS Collaboration around the world.

Yet, there is an element that Maja herself is unaware of… There is a common thread that supports Maja and the thousands of researchers like her. Almost as widespread and undetected as Dark Matter is the continuous and ubiquitous presence of GÉANT – the pan-European Research and Education Network – and of the European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), that with their infrastructure and advanced services constitute the “digital matter” at the core of European research, education and innovation.

During her teenage years, her scientific passion ignited one day in high school when her science teacher introduced the class to the new digital laboratories where experiments that would otherwise be impossible in a classroom could be shared across the country. These labs were made possible because her school had been digitalised as part of the e-Schools programme by the Croatian NREN CARNET.

Later, as she joined her university, she gained a digital identity as a student. This new digital identity allowed her seamless access to all her university’s services, resources, applications, repositories, with a single set of credentials! Even more surprisingly, she soon discovered that this identity also gave her access to other services, across Croatia and often abroad. This identity and the doors it opened to worldwide resources were enabled by her local NREN and GÉANT through the national identity federation AAI@EduHr with access to global services provided by via eduGAIN, the interfederation service developed and operated by GÉANT comprising over 80 identity federations around the world and connecting more than 8,000 Identity and Service Providers.

Not everything at university was new though. To her surprise, she recognised the name of the WiFi networks available on campus. eduroam… wasn’t that the name of the network in her high school’s science lab as well? After some research, Maja discovered that this network was actually a global service. She could connect once and get secure internet connectivity all over the campus and in places across the city, for free! Later she would learn that this roaming access service (pioneered and supported by the GÉANT community and operated in her country by CARNET’s partner Srce) actually provided simple, easy, and secure connectivity way further than her town and in thousands of locations across more than 100 countries.

Life in Zagreb was great for Maja, but her spirit of adventure had never gone dormant, and a new chapter was awaiting her. On her third year of university she decided to take part in the Erasmus programme and spend a year at University of Leiden in the Netherlands. She was worried about the bureaucracy and paperwork involved but a new digitalised administrative process, combined with new Erasmus+ apps, e-services and tools had made everything way easier than expected. She only had to use her university identity to go through the process and she could even keep using it to access to all her academic resources and to connect to eduroam during all the year abroad! This meant she could then fully focus on her studies and on the new phase of her life. thanks to MyAcademicID, an identity and access management platform enabling students to authenticate for their studies abroad using their home student account.

As the years passed, Maja became a research fellow at the University of Leiden, leading a small team dedicated to the study of particle physics. Challenges however can emerge at any moment, and with the arrival of a global pandemic all her team was suddenly forced to work from home. Remote work became the new reality and Maja was up to the challenge. eduVPN – the academic VPN developed within the GÉANT Community – allowed her to securely access to all her academic resources from home by providing a secure gateway to her trusted university network.

Of course, working from home also had its perks, like being able to listen to music at high volume all the time. How could she work without music until now? She couldn’t really remember, as now she couldn’t do without. Her subscription to a popular music streaming service had also come with a discount, and – while she was very grateful for it – she didn’t know that this was enabled by yet another GÉANT service - InAcademia. The service leveraged the authentication technologies of eduGAIN to provide real-time, secure validation of student affiliation while preserving user privacy.

It was when Maja’s team fully returned to the office that they made a real breakthrough in their research. One of their recent observations had reported a phenomenon never seen before. However, the data produced needed immense computation power to be processed. Maja knew how to get to the bottom of this. In the Slovenian city of Maribor, a new petascale supercomputer named Vega had just been inaugurated, and the ATLAS Collaboration was one of the first users to be granted official time allocations. Of course, the high-speed transfer of huge amounts of data required was made possible thanks to the GÉANT network, recently upgraded and refreshed via the GN4-3N project, and to the network of the Dutch NREN SURF and of the Slovenian NREN Arnes. For Maja and her team this was a game-changer.

Throughout her academic life so many services developed and supported by GÉANT and the partner NRENs in the GÉANT project have helped Maja in so many ways, often invisible but always there.



2 Exabytes* a year is already carried at high speed and low latency.

* (That’s 2 BILLION Gigabytes!)


Federating services and architecture plus eduroam, the worldwide WiFi roaming service.


Europe-wide procurement frameworks for tailored, market leading cloud offerings.


40+ NRENs, extensive partnerships, programmes, workshops, task forces and events.

The research GÉANT enables touches almost every aspect of our lives.
Not only that, but its networking technology is shaping the internet of tomorrow.

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