— By Keri Troutman
Last year — ten years after retiring from a 44-year career in the Physics Division — Lina Galtieri ran the Bay to Breakers race for the first time. She’d never run a race or a marathon before, but heard some colleagues talking about it and thought it sounded like fun, so she gave it a go. She’d already trained for climbing to Mt. Everest base camp, K2, and Mont Blanc, so running seven miles across San Francisco didn’t seem like a big deal. She came in fourth in her age group.
“Bay to Breakers was fascinating—you get to run through San Francisco with no cars on the streets, and then as you run up Hayes Street there are bands playing everywhere and people dressed in costume,” she says. ”Everyone is laughing, everyone is happy; it’s just wonderful!”
Galtieri was back at it again this year, running along with two other Berkeley Lab physics colleagues from the ATLAS experiment group— Maurice Garcia-Sciveres and Michael Barnett—and her husband. This year she came in 8 out of 19 in her age group, which she says was low because she stopped to take 135 photos along the race course.
Though she officially retired from the Lab in 2005, Galtieri says these days she’s working more than ever. She still comes into the office every day and is one of more than 3,000 scientists around the world working on the ATLAS project at CERN. “It’s like I’m a post doc again,” she says. “After all those years as a group leader, with so many other duties, now I’m finally focusing on my research again.”
ATLAS, a detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, investigates a wide range of physics, from the search for the Higgs boson to extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter, all of which creates an enormous flow of data. More than 3,000 scientists from 174 institutes in 38 countries collaborate to help digest all that data, and Galtieri is one of them.
Over the years, Galtieri has been involved in a number of exciting physics experiments—she played an instrumental role in the discovery of the top quark and she was part of the Alvarez group when he was awarded the Nobel Prize and she traveled to Stockholm for the ceremonies.
Galtieri had always loved to run and hike—growing up in Italy she recalls always trying to climb the huge hill behind her grandparents home in Calabria, and then later excelling at track and field events in high school. She gave up her track career when she started studying physics at the University of Rome, but still always stayed active running and hiking. She walks or jogs up into the hills behind her Montclair home almost every morning. It was after she had a bad fall and a broke her leg that Galtieri started training to climb Mt. Everest. “I thought it would be a good idea to do the hikes I had been dreaming about, before I broke something else!” she says.
In 1993 she made it to the Mt. Everest base camp, in 1997 she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, in 2004 she climbed to the K2 base camp, in 2013 she climbed Mt Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa, and she hiked around Mt. Blanc in 2015. Bay to Breakers is a walk in the park comparatively!