Inside CERN (Photo: CERN)

Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti, part of Higgs Boson Team, to take over as CERN chief

At its 173rd Closed Session, CERN Council has selected the Italian physicist, Dr Fabiola Gianotti, as the next Director-General and her mandate will begin on 1 January 2016 for five years.

“We were extremely impressed with all three candidates put forward by the search committee,” said President of Council Agnieszka Zalewska.

“Fabiola Gianotti is an excellent choice to be my successor,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “It has been a pleasure to work with her for many years. I look forward to continuing to work with her through the transition year of 2015, and am confident that CERN will be in very good hands.”

In her response, Dr Gianotti said, “It is a great honour and responsibility for me to be selected as the next CERN Director-General following 15 outstanding predecessors.” She was leader of the ATLAS experiment collaboration from March 2009 to February 2013, covering the period in which the LHC experiments ATLAS and CMS announced the long-awaited discovery of the so-called Higgs boson, recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize to François Englert and Peter Higgs in 2013.

But scientists elsewhere have been raising questions whether it was the same Higgs-Boson particle or something else that the duo scientists discovered in 2012, in which Gianotti was an active member.

The physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert at CERN or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, using the Large Hadron Collider, claimed to have smashed protons at an incredible speed to produce the ‘God’ particle.

But Mads Toudal Frandsen, a researcher at the College of Southern Denmark’s Center for Cosmology & Particle Physics Phenomenology kicked off controversy raising questions. “The current information is not precise enough to find out just what the particle is. Maybe it’s a quantity of other known contaminants.”

The new angle has taken the entire science community by storm and Gianotti also needs to give an answer now.

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