by Ian Randall. Published: 27 June 2011

ALICE physicist Luisa Cifarelli has become the first female president of the European Physical Society [EPS]. Cifarelli, a professor of experimental physics at the University of Bologna, assumed the leadership of the society on 2 April this year. Cifarelli is also the current president of the Italian Physical Society.


ALICE's Luisa Cifarelli

The EPS, which was founded at CERN in 1968, is a non-profit organisation which exists to promote excellence in the field in physics, both in Europe and beyond. With over 3,000 individual members, 50 associate members - such as laboratories, research institutes and universities – and 41 member societies - among which are the larger Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft and the Institute of Physics - the EPS represents over 100,000 physicists from a wide variety of different fields.

Currently based on the Université de Haute-Alsace campus in Mulhouse, France, the EPS continues to support physics in Europe – organising many high profile events, outreach activities, fostering communication within and outside of the discipline, supporting scientists in less-favoured regions and by bringing scientific issues to both the public and policy makers. The EPS is also the provider of a number of prestigious prizes.

Among her plans for her term as president, Cifarelli is especially keen to promote the visibility of both the EPS and physics in general; to this end, she is developing a number of projects with a public angle – such as looking into how physics can relate to the economy, and to cultural heritage – as well as a programme called EPS Historic Sites. In this, landmarks where important scientific discoveries were made will be recognised. In addition, she is keen for the EPS to promote European-based physics publications.

A relatively new member of the EPS, Cifarelli believes that she can bring an original approach to the society during her term as president. “Since I have not been a member of the EPS for very long... I don’t have any barriers coming from the past,” she says. “I just keep proposing new things; from a fresh outlook.”

Cifarelli is also keen to strengthen the relationship between CERN and the EPS. Certainly, she is not the first prominent member of CERN to become a president of the EPS, joining such company as Gilberto Bernardini, the founding president of the EPS; Maurice Jacob; Herwig Schopper; and Antonino Zichichi.

The presidency of the EPS is a two year long term. Cifarelli, who had held the position of president-elect last year, will continue to serve the EPS as vice-president when her current term concludes.