Fabiola Gianotti: Italian excellence to lead CERN
The Italian scientist Fabiola Gianotti will be the next Director-General of CERN, the prestigious research centre for particle physics located in Geneva. The researcher was selected from a short list of three candidates for her vision for CERN’s future as a world leading laboratory, coupled with her in-depth knowledge of both CERN and the field of experimental particle physics, said Agnieszka Zalewska, President of CERN Council, the body responsible for the selection.
This vision is very clearly conveyed by the words Fabiola Gianotti pronounced when she was appointed: “CERN is a centre of scientific excellence, and a source of pride and inspiration for physicists from all over the world. CERN is also a cradle for technology and innovation, a fount of knowledge and education, and a shining, concrete example of worldwide scientific cooperation and peace.” Hence, her full engagement to “maintain CERN’s excellence in all its attributes, with the help of everybody”, concluded Fabiola Gianotti.
Her activity at CERN, that she will lead from January 1, 2016 for a 5-year period, started in 1987. She graduated in physics at the University of Milan, received a Ph.D. in subnuclear experimental physics and a fellowship from the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, then she became a research physicist at CERN Physics Department. For several years, she has been involved in detector R&D and construction, software development and data analysis. Among several experiments carried out at CERN, one of the most important is ATLAS, for which she held the position of international project leader from 2009 to 2013. While holding this position, on July 4, 2012, the Italian researcher announced the discovery of Higgs boson, a result of immense scientific value, recognized by the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics, on the following year, to the physicists who had first worked on the theory of the existence of this particles.
Over the years, Fabiola Gianotti has received a number of recognitions,including the honour of first “Commander” and then “Grand Officer” of the Italian Republic by the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
Based on her decade-long activity at the prestigious research centre that she will lead, Fabiola Gianotti is also an exceptional testimonial of Italy’s contribution to CERN. The Italian scientist has recently given her opinion on this topic during a video interview – reported below – that she gave to the Media channel of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) a few days before being appointed.
Video "Fabiola Gianotti's accelerated time" (Source: Media INAF)