Fabiola Gianotti will be the first female director-general of CERN starting on Jan 1, 2016. This is a 5-year position.
She was the leader of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from March 2009 to February 2013.
As the leader of the ATLAS experiment she had the honor and privilege of announcing the discovery of the Higgs boson. During the historic CERN seminar on July 4, 2012, Joe Incandella presented the CMS results and Fabiola Gianotti presented the ATLAS results. CMS and ATLAS results were consistent and it became clear that the theorized Higgs particle exists.
On that historic day about half a million people tuned in to watch the announcement of the Higgs search results on July 4, 2012, streamed live from CERN. More than 1,000 television stations and 5,000 news programs used video footage of the presentation. It is interesting that the particular video in Youtube (see the link below) has been watched only 2518 times at the time of this writing). Once the news is out people are not interested in historic records I suppose.
CERN seminar on July 4, 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tnd8bxDYOs
Official source video : http://cds.cern.ch/record/1459513
Fabiola Gianotti was awarded the 2013 Fundamental Physics Special Breakthrough Prize. She shared that 3 million USD prize with Peter Jenni, Michel Della Negra, Tejinder Singh Virdee, Guido Tonelli, and Joe Incandella for their leadership role in the discovery of the Higgs particle by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Lyn Evans – the man who led the Large Hadron Collider design and construction – was awarded a separate Special Breakthrough Prize of 3 million USD.
On 1 November 2013, Fabiola Gianotti received the Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honour, for her contribution at the Atlas experiment at CERN, and for her promotion of science as a spokesperson at CERN.
Gianotti received her PhD in experimental particle physics from the University of Milan in 1989. Since 1994 she has been a research physicist in the Physics Department of CERN. She has worked on several CERN experiments, being involved in detector R&D and construction, software development and data analysis.
She is the author or co-author on more than 500 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Since August 2013 she has been an honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh. She received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Uppsala, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, McGill University and Oslo University.
She is a member of the Italian Academy of Sciences and has served on several other international committees. She was recently selected to be a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.