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Switzerland's CERN selects 'God particle' researcher as first female director general

FILE - The Dec. 13, 2011 file photo shows Professor Fabiola Gianotti as she informs to media about the Higgs search during a press conference at the European Particle Physics laboratory (CERN), in Geneva, Switzerland.  Italian physicist has been selected by the CERN council on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 as the Organization’s next Director-General.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi, file)

FILE - The Dec. 13, 2011 file photo shows Professor Fabiola Gianotti as she informs to media about the Higgs search during a press conference at the European Particle Physics laboratory (CERN), in Geneva, Switzerland. Italian physicist has been selected by the CERN council on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 as the Organization’s next Director-General. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi, file)  (The Associated Press)

The renowned lab that confirmed the existence of the elusive "God particle" has selected an Italian physicist who played a key role in that research to be its new director general.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said Tuesday that Fabiola Gianotti would become the first female director general when she takes over in 2016.

Gianotti's been a research physicist in CERN's physics department since 1994 and was project leader of the ATLAS experiment, which involved the collaboration of 3,000 physicists from 38 countries.

In 2012, she presented the ATLAS results, announcing the discovery of the Higgs boson, sometimes called the "God particle," which until then had only been theorized. It's regarded as key to understanding why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give objects weight.