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Sakura Pascarelli appointed scientific director at European XFEL

The Italian physicist Dr. Sakura Pascarelli will be the new scientific director at European XFEL. Pascarelli will join European XFEL on 1 September from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, ESRF in Grenoble, France.

She succeeds Andreas Schwarz who retired at the end of 2018. As one of three scientific directors, Pascarelli will be responsible for the four short-waved hard X-ray instruments at European XFEL: FXE for studying extremely fast processes, SPB/SFX for investigating biomolecules and biological samples, HED for studying matter under extreme pressures and temperatures, and MID for investigating nanostructures or irregularly ordered materials such as glass, liquids and biological substances. In addition, Pascarelli will also be responsible for developing the scientific research program for these experiment stations.

Born in Japan to Italian parents, Pascarelli studied physics at Sapienza University in Rome before doing her Ph.D. in Grenoble, France. Following her studies she worked as a scientist in various roles at the ESRF with increasing managerial responsibilities. In her current position she is responsible for two ESRF experiment stations: beamlines BM23 and ID24, both used to observe the electronic and local atomic structure in matter. She is also Head of the Matter at Extremes group in the Experiments Division. In addition, Sakura Pascarelli has served in several scientific advisory committees, for example at the Australian Synchrotron and at the Spanish Synchrotron ALBA, and is presently chairing the scientific selection committee for research proposals at the experiment station HED at European XFEL.

Maria Faury, chair of the European XFEL Council said: “With her extensive knowledge and experience of management roles at a world-leading X-ray science facility, Sakura Pascarelli is a perfect fit for the role of scientific director at European XFEL. I am sure she will bring fresh perspectives to our work and I am very much looking forward to working with her and her colleagues on the management board to shape the future of the facility.”

European XFEL managing director Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l said: “The continued development at the four experiment stations, for which Sakura Pascarelli will be responsible, will be critical for the success of our research facility. We are therefore very pleased that she will be joining us to take on this important task. Sakura is an experienced scientist and has been involved in our work at European XFEL for many years. I am very much looking forward to continuing the good teamwork with her as part of the management board.”

“I am very eager to join European XFEL, and to work hand in hand with my colleagues on the Management Board to continue improving the capabilities of this wonderful facility for the benefit of the scientific community”, said Sakura Pascarelli. “The start of operation of the instruments makes this a particularly exciting and intense time, with user experiments performed in parallel with important instrumentation development activities. I am looking forward to working closely with the staff scientists and providing them with all the support I can”, she added.

With Pascarelli the European XFEL Management Board is once again complete. Other members are Chair of the management board Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l, managing and administrative director Dr. Nicole Elleuche, and scientific directors Prof. Serguei Molodtsov and Dr. Thomas Tschentscher.

Source: European XFEL Press Release from March 7th, 2019,


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