He does not often speak it anymore, but Hausa, one of the most important African languages, is Yuri Balasanov's second language. Yuri comes from a family of diplomats and grew up in Moscow. He did a fair amount of travelling as a child, and when he chose to study Foreign Relations in Moscow, it came as no surprise to his family. His specialization was Africa and his thesis was titled "Political and Economic Aspects of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Power in Africa". After a year spent at the Russian Embassy in Sierra Leone he realized that the African climate did not fully agree with him. Africa, thus, would not be part of his future; nuclear power, however, would.
Back in Moscow, Yuri joined the USSR Atomic Energy Committee and was responsible for International Relations within the Division of International Organizations. Several years of work in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency followed, during which Yuri witnessed the conception of ITER from up close. In 1989 he became directly involved in the ITER development, and in 1994 he actually started working for ITER and moved to San Diego. He spent five years there, as head of Human Resources (HR). He moved to Garching, Germany in 2000 after the U.S. withdrew from the ITER program.
When Cadarache was selected as host location for ITER, Yuri became one of the early recruits on-site, arriving in December 2006 to help set up the Human Resources Division. As Senior HR Administrator, he is currently responsible for the recruitment process within the Tokamak Department, the Monaco Fellowship Program and of visiting researchers. He is also in charge of global charts and statistics concerning the ITER staff. "Seeing ITER develop from an idea to a reality has been fascinating," says Yuri, "but helping to find the right people to move the project further and build the machine is even more exciting." return to Newsline #69