CERN chooses its next Director General


Fabiola; next head of CERN Photograph: Claudio Pasqua/Wikimedia

This morning CERN council selected Fabiola Gianotti as the organisation’s next Director-General. The appointment will be formalised at the December session of council, and her mandate will begin on 1 January 2016 and run for a period of five years.

The decision was made rather quickly. Or, as the press release puts it: “Council rapidly converged in favour of Dr Gianotti.” I don’t usually draw so heavily on press releases but I was in council and helped write this one, so I think it’s excusable. So here goes (with a few tweaks of my own, of course):

We were extremely impressed with all three candidates put forward by the search committee

said president of council Agnieszka Zalewska. The current director general, Rolf Heuer, said:

Fabiola Gianotti is an excellent choice to be my successor. 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.

And then Fabiola herself …

It is a great honour and responsibility for me to be selected as the next CERN director general following 15 outstanding predecessors. CERN is a centre of scientific excellence, and a source of pride and inspiration for physicists from all over the world. CERN is also a cradle for technology and innovation, a fount of knowledge and education, and a shining, concrete example of worldwide scientific cooperation and peace. It is the combination of these four assets that renders CERN so unique, a place that makes better scientists and better people. I will fully engage myself to maintain CERN’s excellence in all its attributes, with the help of everybody, including CERN council, staff and users from all over the world.

Fabiola was leader of the Atlas experiment from March 2009 to February 2013, covering the period in which the LHC experiments ATLAS and CMS announced the long-awaited discovery of the Higgs boson, recognised by the award of the Nobel prize to François Englert and Peter Higgs in 2013. She is a member of many international committees, and has received many prestigious awards. She will be the first woman to hold the position of CERN director general.

There will be a press conference at CERN’s Globe of Science Innovation this afternoon at 15:00, at which Fabiola will be joined by the president of CERN council and the CERN Director-General.

Actually, it took a lot longer to agree on the wording of the press release than on the choice of Director-General. Here we are breathing a sigh of relief after it is all done…


CERN council just after the decision Photograph: Jon Butterworth/Jon Butterworth


(Apart from formalising it in December of course.)

This is also at the Guardian, but they messed with the formatting and did some other things I didn’y, so my preferred version is above. I know, call me picky.


About Jon Butterworth

UCL Physics prof, works on LHC, writes (books, Cosmic Shambles and elsewhere). Citizen of England, UK, Europe & Nowhere, apparently.
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