Fabiola Gianotti

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The first woman to run CERN

Fabiola Gianotti is a particle physicist born in Italy in 1960.

Following in the footsteps of her mother, she focused her studies almost exclusively on classical humanities, art, literature and music. However, as a teenager, her interest in philosophy and life's big questions led her to physics. Therefore, in her opinion, it is a cliché without foundations that scientists are only interested in data and facts. She loves many other things.

Since 1994 she works as a physicist researcher at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located in Switzerland. CERN was the first acronym used for this Large Hadron Collider. She began as a spokesperson of the ATLAS project, whose goal was the discovery of a particle that would explain why nature's fundamental particles have mass, a key aspect to understand the behaviour of matter. This particle, which was sought for decades, was given the name "Higgs boson".

An anecdote speaks to the character of Gianotti: on 4 July 2012 a seminar took place at CERN to announce the MEONE ELSE HAPPY." discovery of the boson. Fabiola, presented the results of the ATLAS experiments in the font Comic Sans. Some people found the font was not appropriate to show data of such historic importance. Others saw it favourably. In the UK a campaign was launched to change the name of Comic Sans to CERN Comic.

Fabiola was amazed by the fuss since she employed the font simply because she liked it. And she is not about to stop using it!

Her in-depth knowledge of particle physics earned her the direction of CERN in the 2016 election, being the first woman to occupy this role.

In the year 2013 she was awarded the prize Enrico Fermi from the Physics Society of Italy and a year later, in 2014, was appointed Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell'Ordine Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

«Believe in your dreams and ideals and pursue them with determination and motivation. Always find the time to do something for other people. Indeed, there is nothing more rewarding than making someone else happy.»