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8th of March in Grenoble

Citizen Press - 7/03/2018

Mélina Skouras, from virtual to real

Melina Skouras © Inria / Photo F. Polge-Cohen

Mélina Skouras, researcher within the Imagine team, works on the tools that will bring the objects of tomorrow to life. This young researcher, who has had an atypical career path, places the users of 3D technology at the heart of her work.

Former student of Ensimag, Mélina Skouras rapidly became passionate about her current field of research - digital manufacturing.  "I immediately liked seeing images take shape on the screen." A question that is now more topical than ever: "Today, many tools enable the manufacturing of virtual objects: 3D printers, laser cutting machines, etc. In the real world, these objects are not just shapes. They are subject to the laws of physics, they can be distorted or broken. My work consists in predicting what will happen to these objects and to inverse this process in order to improve their design. I observe how the materials react when they are cut, how they distort when certain forces are applied. I like to combine theory and practice.”

3D modelling for beginners and experts

Convinced that research takes on its full meaning when it becomes tangible for users, Mélina Skouras is working on 3D modelling software programs aimed at both the general public and industry experts:

With computer science, we are capable of addressing complex problems and processing large quantities of data. However, you must always think how the users are going to use the tool, find what is simplest for them and translate this into algorithms.

From the use of metamaterials in inverse problems to the diversification of the models read by software - two of her research areas - Mélina Skouras is endeavouring to develop systems that enable users to “short-circuit the difficult stages in the design process”. She explains: “The majority of tools we work on require starting off from the desired 3D shape. I would like to make 3D modelling possible from simpler sources, such as the sketches that are often done as the basis of any creation, or from photos.”

Passion, creativity... is researcher a woman's profession?

Far from the clichés, Mélina Skouras does not understand why research is perceived as a man's profession: “Women, like men, have a lot to bring to research. I don't like to say that women are more creative and that men are more sensitive to mathematics. But even if it were true, we need creativity in research. We need every single profile.” The scientist, who has never personally encountered any hostility, insists: “There should not be any stumbling blocks. Today it is possible - and desirable - for women to do research. Moreover, numerous programmes encourage female vocations; it's the right time to start!”  
She herself would not change profession for anything in the world: “You never get bored and have great freedom.” What makes her proud? “Solving everyday problems. Finding a solution to a difficult task is very rewarding.”

Keywords: Melina Skouras; Inria Grenoble Rhône-Alpes; 3D; Computer graphics; woman

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