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Teresa Rodrigo Anoro (1956 – 2020)

Teresa Rodrigo Anoro
(Image: CERN)

Teresa Rodrigo Anoro, professor of atomic and nuclear physics at the University of Cantabria, died peacefully at home on 20 April after a long illness. Teresa Rodrigo was a leading figure within the particle physics community and played a key role in shaping Spanish particle physics policies, with emphasis on promoting the participation of women in science.

Teresa Rodrigo was born in Lleida, Spain, in 1956. After her bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Zaragoza, she joined the High-Energy Physics group of La Junta de Energía Nuclear in Madrid (currently CIEMAT), earning a PhD in 1985 on the production of strange particles at the NA23 experiment at CERN, under the supervision of Antonio Ferrando. She moved to CERN to participate in the development of the Uranium-TMP calorimeter for the upgrade of the UA1 experiment, where she started her personal journey towards finding the top quark, which eventually brought her to the CDF experiment at Fermilab. There, she carried out the detailed modelling of the W+jet background, a crucial part of the top discovery. In 1994, she took up a faculty position at the Instituto de Física de Cantabria (IFCA) in Santander, launching a new line of research on hadronic collider physics and incorporating the IFCA group into both the CDF experiment and the newly formed CMS collaboration. Under her direction, the group continued her study of the properties of the top quark and opened up a new line of research towards the discovery of the Higgs boson. More recently, moving away from hadron beams for the first time, Teresa promoted a new line of research on the search for light dark matter particles at the DAMIC experiment. Teresa was well aware of the importance of technology development and detector building in HEP and orchestrated her group’s contribution to the construction of the CMS muon spectrometer, in particular its muon alignment system, and to the building of the ToF detector of the CDF experiment.

Teresa’s scientific insight and strong commitment to whatever endeavour she was engaged in were well recognised by the international HEP community: she was elected chair of the CMS Collaboration Board (2011-12) and served as a member of several scientific policy committees, including the European Physics Society HEPP Board (2006-2013) and the CERN Scientific Policy Committee (2012-2017). Outside the world of academia, she was a member of several Spanish ministerial scientific panels and of the technical and research panel of the Princesa de Asturias awards. She also held an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo and received the silver medal of the Universidad de Cantabria and the first Julio Peláez award for female pioneers in science, among other recognitions.

Teresa’s influence on the Santander HEP group and the IFCA institute that she directed until a few months ago remains very visible. During her tenure, the group grew considerably in terms of both staff and research infrastructures, greatly expanding its activities. Under her directorship, the institute was awarded the greatest distinction of excellence of the Spanish science system, the Maria de Maeztu grant, and the gender equality prize awarded by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).

Some of us, who were fortunate enough to know Teresa and to share some of her scientific passions, are aware of how kind, approachable, righteous and sympathetic she was, though with a strong personal character that came from her deep honesty, both in life and as a scientist. Teresa’s legacy stands as a testament to her leadership, her vision and her ability to mentor rising colleagues. She will be sorely missed.

We would like to express our sympathies and heartfelt condolences to her husband Antonio and her family.

Her colleagues and friends