Dr. Fabiola Gianotti

Photo credit: CERN

Dr. Fabiola Gianotti is a renowned particle physicist, who currently serves as CERN’s Director-General. Championing the role of science as a universal and unifying force in connecting people and creating a shared future in a fractured world, she is a remarkable role model for men and women across the world, scientists and non-scientists alike.

Dr. Gianotti earned a PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Milan (1989). Since 1994, she has been a research physicist in CERN’s Physics Department, working on experiments including ALEPH on the Large Electron Positron Collider, which was the precursor to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and ATLAS at the LHC. In the course of her career she had the opportunity to collaborate intensely with many scientists from the Weizmann Institute and other Institutions and Universities in Israel.

She has made considerable contributions to the design, construction, and operation of the ATLAS experiment, a collaboration of almost 3,000 physicists from some 180 institutions, 38 countries, and five continents (including the Weizmann Institute, whose scientists are among the leaders of the international consortium responsible for the Muon Spectrometer—one of the five subsystems that make up ATLAS). In 2009, Dr. Gianotti was elected as the project leader (“spokesperson”) of the ATLAS collaboration. On July 4, 2012, she represented the ATLAS collaboration in the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson, which had been proposed as a part of the standard model of particle physics to explain how some fundamental particles acquire mass. Her deep understanding of many aspects of ATLAS, in addition to her inspiring leadership, are recognized as major factors in cementing the discovery so quickly. In 2016, Dr. Gianotti became the first woman to serve as CERN’s Director-General.

Beyond CERN, Dr. Gianotti has, over the years, participated in major international committees, including the Scientific Council of the CNRS (France), the Physics Advisory Committee of the Fermilab Laboratory (US), the Scientific Council of the DESY Laboratory (Germany), the Scientific Advisory Committee of NIKHEF (Netherlands), and the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN secretary-general.

She holds multiple honorary degrees from leading institutions around the world and is a corresponding member of the Italian Academy of Science (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei) and a foreign associate member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and of the French Academy of Sciences. Her honors and awards include Italy’s Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell’ordine al merito della Repubblica, the Special Breakthrough Physics Prize (2012), the Enrico Fermi Prize of the Italian Physical Society (2013), and the Medal of Honour of the Niels Bohr Institute of Copenhagen (2013).

Dr. Gianotti was one of The Guardian’s top 100 most inspirational women in 2011, ranked fifth in Time magazine’s Person of the Year index in 2012, and included among the world’s 100 most powerful women by Forbes magazine in both 2013 and 2017 (on both occasions she was the highest-ranking physicist).