At its 173rd closed session on 4 November, CERN Council selected the Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti as the organization’s next director-general. The appointment will be formalized at the December session of Council, and Gianotti’s mandate will begin on 1 January 2016 and run for a period of five years. She will be the first woman to hold the position of director-general at CERN.
Council rapidly converged in favour of Gianotti. “We were extremely impressed with all three candidates put forward by the search committee,” said Agnieszka Zalewska, the president of Council, on the announcement of the decision. “It was Dr Gianotti’s vision for CERN’s future as a world-leading accelerator laboratory, coupled with her in-depth knowledge of both CERN and the field of experimental particle physics, that led us to this outcome.”
Gianotti received a PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Milan in 1989, working on the UA2 experiment at CERN for her thesis on supersymmetry. She has been a research physicist in the physics department at CERN since 1994, being involved in detector R&D and construction, software development and data analysis, for example for supersymmetry searches by the ALEPH experiment at the Large Electron–Positron (LEP) collider.
However, it is for her contributions to the ATLAS experiment at the LHC that Gianotti has become particularly well known. She was leader of the ATLAS experiment collaboration from March 2009 to February 2013, covering the period in which the LHC experiments ATLAS and CMS announced the long-awaited discovery of a Higgs boson, which was recognized by the award of the Nobel Prize to François Englert and Peter Higgs in 2013. Since August 2013, Gianotti has been an honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh.