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14/05/2018

Remembering Michel Combarnous

© Université de Bordeaux

It is with great sadness that Inria learned that Michel Combarnous had passed away on Thursday 10 May, at the age of 77. A renowned professor of mechanics and energetics, and member of the French Académie des sciences, he presided over the Inria Scientific Council from 1996 to 1998. He was president of the University of Bordeaux 1 from 1996 to 2001.

Michel Combarnous had a very rich academic career: he began his research activity by working on fluid mechanics and heat and mass transfers primarily in porous media. During the second part of his career, he devoted himself to the study of ecological and general energetics issues (energy consumption on a worldwide scale, solar energy consumption by human activities mobilising plant and animal biomasses, development of renewable energies, etc.).

Alongside this career as a teacher and renowned researcher, he put his energy and talent at the service of our country by taking on great responsibilities too numerous to list in their entirety, but which included: the first presidency of the University of Bordeaux 1, scientific director of the SPI (engineering sciences) department of the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and research director at the French Ministry of National Education. He received numerous distinctions during his career: Officer of the French Legion of Honour, Commander of the French Order of Academic Palms; he was also Corresponding Member of the French Académie des sciences and founder member of the learned society the French Academy of Technologies. 

He crossed Inria's path on several occasions and his support for the institute was unfailing - on a national level in particular - by taking on the presidency of its Scientific Council and, on a regional level, by supporting the candidacy of the Bordeaux site to host a new research centre (foreshadowing Inria Futurs) with conviction and efficiency. From a very operational perspective, he worked with conviction for the acquisition of the Haut-carré site by the university, on which part of the Inria Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest research building stands.  He was without doubt one of the major architects of Inria's establishment in the south-west of France.

Those who had the pleasure of meeting him could appreciate his great scientific and human qualities, in particular his infectious energy, and will have fond memories of Michel Combarnous.

Inria shares in his family's loss and wishes to extend its heartfelt condolences to them.

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