INRIA researchers scoop 2007 Excellencia Prize

Two researchers from the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA), Christine Morin and Christine Azevedo-Coste, have been awarded the ‘Excellencia Prize
2007’.

Now in its third edition, the ‘Excellencia Prize’ rewards five young women engineers, in recognition of their achievements in leading a successful professional life, as well as a fulfilling
personal life.

The winner in the fundamental research category, Christine Morin, is Research Director at the INRIA Rennes Bretagne-Atlantique research centre. She works on designing an operating system for
high-performance computing in computer clusters and was behind the creation of a start-up called Kerlabs. Since June 2006, she has been the coordinator of XtreemOS, an EU-funded project
focusing on grids and operating systems for supercomputing applications. This Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project has a ?30 million budget and brings together 19 partners from the academic
world and industry from seven European countries and China.

Christine Morin does not come from the academic world and had not considered going into research until receiving advice from her professor during her master’s degree. She believes young girls
need fuller and more concrete information if they are to be drawn to the sciences.

‘There’s nothing motivating in the information given to high-school girls. They’re just given a list of professions instead of concrete examples of careers, testimonials and an idea of what the
real prospects are,’ she said.

Christine Azevedo-Coste, the winner of the applied research category, is a research scientist at the Sophia Antipolis-Méditerranée research centre of INRIA. She won with flying
colours for her work into applied robotics for use in rehabilitation programmes for people with motor disabilities. She studies the signals which provide information on the condition of muscles
and carries out practical experiments.

Although Christine Azevedo-Coste was keen on biology and physics from an early age, she only became a research scientist over time. ‘With no clear-cut plans for the future, I only made a
definite choice on leaving high-school. I kept an open mind, keen to discover new horizons and careful not to close any doors,’ she said.

After the awards ceremony, the two young researchers were invited to a round table chaired by the French magazine L’Express, where they were asked to talk about their careers, their ideas for
making a research career more appealing to young women, and the chief difficulties inherent in this field of activity.

Both emphasised their interest in their work and the pleasure they get from it. They also acknowledged that the main difficulty was juggling their career with motherhood. ‘Luckily, my husband
does more than his share of household chores,’ joked mother-of-three, Christine Morin.

The other winners of the ‘Excellencia Prize 2007’ included Jacqueline Lambert from Philae Technologies for ‘her passion in software, up to building a company’ and Alexandra Pauty-Assie, from
the Health Insurance branch of French Social Security (CNAM-TS), in the technology user category. Lastly, Sandra Carrie, a young engineer at Telecom INT, won in the promising engineering
category with the jury recognizing her talent in the field of space telecommunications.

The winners were each awarded a trophy, a coaching session and a Nokia phone at an award ceremony held in Paris’ Grand Palais and attended by Mrs Valerie Letard, the French Secretary of State
for Solidarity, and Mrs Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

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