Fabiola Gianotti is an Italian particle physicist, the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) Director-General, and the first woman to hold this position. Her mandate began on 1 January 2016 and runs for a period of five years.
Dr. Gianotti received a PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Milan in 1989.
Since 1996, following several postdoctoral positions, including a fellowship at CERN, she has been a research physicist in the Physics Department of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and since August 2013 an honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh. She is also a member of the Italian Academy of Sciences (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei), foreign associate member of the US National Academy of Sciences and foreign associate of the French Academy of Science.
Dr. Gianotti has worked on several CERN experiments (WA70, UA2, ALEPH, ATLAS), being involved in detector R&D and construction, software development and data analysis.
She was/is a member of several international committees, such as the Scientific Council of the CNRS (France), the Physics Advisory Committee of the Fermilab Laboratory (USA), the Council of the European Physical Society, the Scientific Council of the DESY Laboratory (Germany), the Scientific Advisory Committee of NIKHEF (Netherlands). She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon.
In 2009 Gianotti was elected as the project leader and spokesperson of the ATLAS project at CERN, which involved a collaboration of around 3,000 physicists from 180 institutions in 38 countries. ATLAS was one of the two experiments involved in the observation of the Higgs boson. On 4 July 2012 Gianotti announced the discovery of the particle. Until then, the Higgs boson was a theoretical part of the standard model in particle physics theory to explain how some fundamental particles acquire mass. Gianotti's deep understanding of many ATLAS aspects and her leadership were recognised as major factors in the discovery.
She appeared in the 2013 documentary film Particle Fever, about the work of the Large Hadron Collider.