Women with talent
We met up with Solenne Delahaye, an engineer within the Sistm project team, Martine Courbin Coulaud, a documentation engineer who also works on information and scientific publishing, and Costanza Simoncini, a postdoctoral student and member of the Monc project team.
“Biostatistician specialising in public health”.The wording of her job title might sound pretentious to anyone not familiar with Solenne Delahaye’s personality. At the age of twenty-five, after graduating with a Master’s in Biology and IT, this young Parisian made the decision to move to Bordeaux, motivated by her love for the south of France and the ocean. It was there that she joined SISTM, a project team co-founded by the University of Bordeaux, the Inserm and Inria Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest.
She currently works at the Isped - the French institute for public health, epidemiology and development, close to Bordeaux university hospital - with a number of visits throughout the year to the Inria centre in Talence for meetings or conferences. So what does her role involve? “I carry out statistical processing on the genes of both ill and healthy people, who are injected with vaccines at different intervals in the context of clinical trials.This helps us analyse how the expression of these genes evolves, irrespective of whether or not they are implicated in the immune system. The results are then studied by biologists”.And when she’s not staring at her computer screen, Solenne has developed a taste for roaming the banks of the Gironde on her bike as it winds its way towards the ocean
Martine Courbin Coulaud
Having worked for Inria in south-western France since 2001, this documentation engineer is very much at the interface between knowledge and people, both at work and in her social life - she is a member of a cooperative supermarket. “We have to take the mystery out of science, to open it up in order to enlighten people.”
When it comes to this task, Martine Courbin-Coulaud is not short on either tools or resources. Her educational background in history and documentation gives her the requisite IT engineering skills. She also has support from scientists, helping her to compile databases that are accessible to as many people as possible. Lastly, she has a history of scientific mediation, having contributed to the science popularisation platform Pixees.fr and participated in Class’Code, an educational initiative set up to introduce young people to the world of IT.
“As digital has become widespread, the job of documentation engineer has been reinvented.We try to be as flexible as possible, with a range of different responsibilities - organising and sharing knowledge, raising awareness of science - working in collaboration with scientists, the world of education and the wider public.”
Why choose one of your passions at the expense of another? This was Costanza Simoncini's view on things, when she made the decision to continue with both mathematics and medicine. A native of Bergamo in Italy, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Paris VI before studying a PhD in signal processing at the University of Rennes 1. “During my time as an intern at the Pasteur Institute, I began using mathematics applied to health.I was keen to move to Aquitaine, and I was aware of Inria’s reputation in this field. I contacted the head of the MONCproject team, where I was given the opportunity to study as a postdoc researcher.”
Costanza Simoncini undertakes research into the diagnosis and modelling of cancer. “I design mathematical models and algorithms for MRI processing and scanners, working in cooperation with the Institut Bergonié and Bordeaux university hospital.The goal is to help radiologists better diagnose cancer, to predict the growth of tumours and to anticipate the risk of cancer returning in a way that is personalised for each patient.” So what will she be exploring next? The Pyrenees, where she will be getting back in touch with two of her other passions, cycling and hiking.