By: M. Cestero
Moon and Stars? Maybe that is true for the majority of us but for Dr. Fabiola Gianotti there is a lot more yet to be discovered.
“When you look at the sky at night, you see only 5 percent of what’s out there,” she said in an interview. “The rest we don’t know!”
Dr. Fabiola Gianotti (61), an Italian experimental particle physicist, became the first woman to be Director-General at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) and the first person to be appointed for two consecutive mandates. She has been described as a phenomenon in the world of science and led one of the two teams of physicists that, in 2012, discovered the Higgs boson, nicknamed the “God particle”, that explains why some elementary particles have mass.
This discovery, although extraordinary for the study of matter, does not explain the 95% of the universe that physicists believe is not constructed from normal matter. What is the mysterious dark matter whose gravity appears to hold galaxies together like a giant web? This is the scientific challenge that Dr. Gianotti has decided to confront in leading CERN, an institution with an annual budget of nearly $1.2 billion and with 15,000 scientists from around the world.
Dr. Gianotti has always been a talented, highly focused and passionate student. She earned her Ph.D. in experimental particle physics from the University of Milan in 1989 and joined CERN as a research physicist in 1994. At school she devoured Greek, Latin and philosophy, studied piano and classical dance with the aim of joining the Bolshoi Ballet. Dr. Gianotti found her passion for scientific research after reading a biography on Marie Curie. Dr. Gianotti is the author or co-author of more than 500 publications, a member of numerous international scientific committees, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. She has received honorary doctoral degrees from 9 international Universities and innumerable prestigious international awards.