Fabiola Gianotti officially began her term as CERN’s new—and first female—Director General on January 1, bringing with her a group CERN describes as a “new dream team.” Gianotti earned her PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Milan in 1989 and joined CERN as a researcher in 1994. While at CERN she has served on several international committees and has received many awards including the Special Fundamental Physics Prize of the Milner Foundation.
“The new management inherits a laboratory in great shape,” said Gianotti. “We have a great legacy to build on and a very bright future ahead.”
Gianotti will serve as Director General for the next five years. Members of her team are Frédérick Bordry, director for accelerators and technology; Eckhard Elsen, director for research and computing; Charlotte Lindberg Warakaulle, director for international relations; and Martin Steinacher, director for finance and human resources.
“Over the next five years, we have challenges to face. We need to ensure excellent performance of the LHC accelerator, detectors and computing, in order to deliver exciting science at the energy frontier,” Gianotti said in a New Year’s message to her colleagues. “We need to maintain a diverse and compelling scientific program. And we need to start building the long-term future of our field.”
The LHC is currently in its traditional winter technical stop, with powering tests and beam recommissioning planned for March. Last year saw the start of season 2 of the LHC, and 2016 marks the start of a voyage towards precision, the year of true post-Higgs physics exploration.
Gianotti was named runner-up for TIME magazine’s 2012 “Person of the Year,” losing to Barack Obama. “It’s not only a great scientific endeavor but a unique human adventure,” Gianotti told TIME regarding her management position on the ATLAS project. “Working with so many people from all over the world is extremely enriching and stimulating.”
In 2013, she was named to the UN’s Scientific Advisory Board and in 2014 participated in “Wounded to Death,” a UN Human Rights Council project on violence against women. “I am very glad to be a part of the project and make my own small contribution to the fight against the abominable and shameful scourge of violence against women,” Gianotti said at the time. “A civilized society can only be based on respect for diversity at all levels—gender, age, ethnicity, traditions… It is from this diversity that the richness of humanity springs. The respect for diversity and promotion of peace are some of the aspects of my day-to-day work at CERN that I value greatly, and is among the most effective tools to build a better world.”
Gianotti will address CERN on January 18 in a webcast delivered from CERN’s main auditorium. She is expected to present CERN’s new structure and outline goals and challenges for her term.
“CERN is, first and foremost, a laboratory for fundamental research in physics,” Gianotti said. “It is also a place where science stimulates technological innovation. It’s a place that inspires future generations, either to pursue scientific careers, or simply to develop into citizens aware of the value of science in today’s society. And it’s a place where scientists from all over the world come together to share the pursuit of knowledge. That is an incredibly noble ideal, making CERN a paragon of tolerance and mutual respect.”