CERN has announced the appointment of Italian scientist Fabiola Gianotti as new Director-General. The formalization will take place at the December meeting of the Council of Delegates that govern CERN. Dr. Gianotti’s mandate will start on January 1, 2016 and will run for five years. She’ll be the first woman to hold that office.
Fabiola Gianotti graduated in sub-nuclear physics and later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Milan, in Italy. Her interest in physics began reading the Marie Curie’s biography and Albert Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect. An additional inspiration came when Carlo Rubbia won the Nobel Prize.
Fabiola Gianotti’s work at CERN began in 1987, but her most important contribution is to the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) experiment, which began in 1992. She was the coordinator of ATLAS from 1999 to 2003 and again from 2009 to 2013.
While working with the ATLAS experiment, Fabiola Gianotti was involved in the search for the Higgs boson. In 2012, together with the spokesperson of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment, she announced the discoveries that brought evidence of the existence of this particle.
There were three candidates for the office of CERN Director-General, all top notch, but the Council quickly chose Fabiola Gianotti. The President of the Council Agnieszka Zalewska stated that the choice was dictated by Dr. Gianotti’s vision for CERN’s future of along with her deep knowledge of CERN and the field of experimental particle physics.
In the press conference held for the occasion, Fabiola Gianotti stated that she hoped that her appointment represents an encouragement to many more young women to choose the path of research. CERN celebrates difference as a resource for humanity having scientists from all over the world, the presence of more women would be a further enrichment.
Fabiola Gianotti will have to handle the next activities of the Large Hadron Collider after it’s switched on again. The new studies on the Higgs boson will be one of the seminal works but there will be others as well. Dr. Gianotti has already amply demonstrated her competence so CERN is in good hands.