SERN (Société Européenne de Recherche Nucléaire, the European Society for Nuclear Research) is a global research organization secretly controlled by the Committee of 300, the central antagonistic organization of the Science Adventure universe. They are the main antagonist faction in Steins;Gate and a recurring minor faction in Steins;Gate 0.
Although their main interest is science, they have also taken part in various clandestine operations, such as assassinations with the ultimate goal of world domination.
As part of the Committee of 300, their goal is to create a dystopia by taking control of time travel which came up with the experiment known as Z-Program.
Through the use of Kerr Black Holes and the Large Hadron Collider, they have been conducting various experiments in Time Travel, most notably the attempts at sending living beings (i.e. humans) back in time, though their methods were not efficient and the test subjects (including humans) died in a horrible manner.
***Slight Spoiler Alert - Reading the following paragraphs may spoil some of the viewer's enjoyment of the visual novel, manga, and/or anime series.***
SERN is a mysterious organization that holds a prototype time machine. Though near perfection, the organization has yet been able to fully achieve human time travel. The first few episodes allude to the fact that, in the near future, SERN has monopolized the production and use of time machines. Through unknown means, SERN detected the D-Mails and discovers the existence of a fully operational time machine belonging to the Future Gadget Lab. They, needless to say, take action. Due to their interference, members of the Future Gadget Lab have to be aware of actions that may tick SERN off or risk death/capture. Whatever the case, the future of the Lab and the world will always be in peril if SERN actively pursues the development of a time machine.
The plot of the anime adaptation doesn't directly revolve around SERN as the mysterious organization. They only take up the role of antagonists in the later half of the series. SERN is utilized in different ways throughout the series; foreshadowing, suspense, and an element used to quickly change the tone and pace in any given moment.
- SERN was a deliberate misspelling of CERN, an international organization whose purpose is to explore the very limits of Quantum Physics, hence why they have created the world's most powerful particle accelerator.