Fabiola Gianotti

European Organization for Nuclear Research

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: International Member (elected 2015)


Fabiola Gianotti is an experimental particle physicist at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, Geneva, Switzerland. She is mainly known for her work in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, and her significant contribution to the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. Gianotti grew up in Milano, where she received a PhD in physics from the University in 1989.  Since 1994 she is a research physicist in the CERN Physics Department. From March 2009 to February 2013 she held the elected position of project leader (”Spokesperson”) of the ATLAS experiment. On 4 July 2012 she presented the ATLAS results in an historic seminar at CERN, where the ATLAS and CMS experiments announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. Since 1 January 2016, Gianotti is CERN Director-General. She is a corresponding member of the Italian Academy of Sciences and a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. In 2013 Gianotti was awarded the Enrico Fermi Prize of the Italian Physical Society. She is author or co-author of about 650 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Research Interests

Gianotti’s thirty-year-long scientific activity inscribes itself in the field of particle physics at high-energy accelerators. By accelerating and smashing particle beams at the highest achievable energies, accelerators enable us to explore the fundamental constituents of matter and provide important insight into the structure and evolution of the universe. The most powerful accelerator to date is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. It was conceived and built to address some of the most-exciting outstanding questions in fundamental physics, such as the origin of the masses of the elementary particles, the composition of the universe dark matter, the origin of the matter-antimatter imbalance in the universe, etc. Gianottii was involved in the LHC project since the beginning (early ‘90s). She participated in the design and detector R&D and construction of the liquid-argon electromagnetic calorimeter for the ATLAS experiment, a device used to detect and measure electrons and photons with high precision. This detector was fundamental for the discovery, in 2012, of the Higgs boson, which is related to the mechanism by which elementary particles acquire a mass. Her interests cover also developments of analysis methods and software tools, as well as data analysis up to the publication of the physics results.

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