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.