- Number 379 |
- January 7, 2012
Patrizia Rossi kindles passion for life, physics
Patrizia Rossi, Jefferson Lab Deputy
Associate Director for Nuclear Physics.
Talking with Patrizia Rossi, the new deputy associate director for nuclear physics at DOE's Jefferson Lab, is as much a discussion about life as it is about physics.
Although she had been involved in research at Jefferson Lab since 1993, her new position has afforded her the opportunity to become a much more involved member of the laboratory community, something that she is embracing with her characteristic passion.
"I believe that it is important to start from each instant in your life, to accept every challenge that life presents to you," Rossi notes.
She began her education believing she would pursue a career in humanities and literature, studying French, Italian and English literature. But one of her high school teachers inspired a passion in her for math and physics. Logic and culture suddenly did not seem to be mutually exclusive.
Rossi excelled at the University of Rome, studying under the late Nicola Cabibbo, who is known for his work on the weak interaction in quarks. Rossi aced the course and knew she was on the correct trajectory for her life's work.
She received a degree in physics from the University of Rome in 1986, before accepting a fellowship with the Isituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in 1988 to conduct research and then joined the Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati of INFN as a staff researcher in 1990.
Her research has focused on studying the structure of the nucleon and the strong force, areas of major emphasis at Jefferson Lab. In addition to Jefferson Lab and laboratories in Italy, Rossi also has conducted experiments at DESY Laboratory in Hamburg, Germany and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.
From 1996 to 1998, she lived near Jefferson Lab in Newport News, Va., with her daughter, Paola, and her husband while she worked in the laboratory's Experimental Hall B. At the end of that time, she decided it was the opportune moment to indulge her other passion – travel.
The family took to their 39-foot sailboat and spent a year going down the East Coast of the United States and then on to Central and South America, going through the Panama Canal and down into Ecuador. At the end of their year, which Rossi describes as "fantastic," she returned to physics. Her husband, formerly a physicist at CERN, decided to continue traveling and lives aboard their boat in the Caribbean.
Although neither of her parents were scientists – her mother stayed at home and her father had a small business – she credits them with instilling in her a particular philosophy of life that she carries to this day.
"These values are my life motif," she says with great passion. "There is honesty to one's self. When you make a commitment, you go all the way to the end of it. And you must always be a trustable person. These are roots of my personality."
"My interests are big," she continues. "I must read every night. Right now I am reading Hermann Hesse. I've found a racing group to sail with here, and I love the outdoors, especially hiking. I don't eat out in restaurants that much, because I love to have friends over and cook for them."
She's even found a place nearby to continue the tango lessons that she started when she lived in Rome, where she and Paola, who's now a university student studying anthropology, zoomed through the streets on their scooters.
As part of her contractual agreement, Rossi maintains her position as a senior staff scientist at Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati of Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (LNF-INFN), and has kept her 70-year-old home in the hills outside Rome, which she's quick to note is in the same neighborhood as the pope's summer home. Although she contends that she's not "a shopping person," she admits with a laugh that she owns 110 purses. She doesn't have a favorite designer, and says, "I just buy whatever looks beautiful!"
Although she has been at Jefferson Lab before, this time is different.
"Now I am meeting people from all the halls and major areas, and I am interacting with technicians and engineers as well," she explains. "People have all been very nice. They're very willing to help, from the administrative assistants to the technicians…everyone. They have all said 'Welcome,' not just with words, but with actions. All of these new experiences are dynamic processes and they are fascinating.""There is learning to be done for me here," she adds. "I am very excited about the opportunity. This is an exciting time to join Jefferson Lab as it grows and becomes an ever more interesting place to do research. The 12 GeV Upgrade is a reality and provides a challenge to develop new ideas and proposals to the science program. I am looking forward to being part of this dynamic effort. Being static horrifies me. The biggest challenge in life is to find balance."
Submitted by DOE's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility