Christophe Biernacki, Head of Science at Inria Lille
Christophe Biernacki - © Inria / Photo Kaksonen
Christophe Biernacki has been the new Head of Science at the Inria Lille – Nord Europe research centre since last June.A statistician at the head of the Modal* project team since 2010 and previously assistant to the former Head of Science, he was the natural choice for this position.Aware of the steadily growing importance of digital science for both research and society, he is keen to take the helm of the centre at a turning point in its existence.
What is the role of a Head of Science?
It's very varied. The Head of Science handles all of the aspects related to scientific issues. This might involve, for example, defining and implementing the centre's priorities, with a constant concern for getting the research staff and research support staff onboard. The Head of Science also maintains the project teams, who are key to the Inria model, and liaises with the partner organisations, in particular the universities. The remit is very wide-ranging, and exciting.
I'd like to be able to promote and further develop an open approach to Europe.
What are your impressions after the first few months in the job?
I feel a great sense of responsibility and I'm honoured to have been selected for the job. Above all, I'm keen to make progress and help the Inria Lille – Nord Europe centre move forward. This new role makes me even more certain that this centre is a key player in the regional research and development ecosystem. I've felt this very clearly through my contact with all of the partners at this level of responsibility.
What are the challenges ahead for the Inria Lille – Nord Europe centre?
The centre will celebrate its tenth anniversary next year: a turning point in its existence. As we leave our early years behind and move into a phase of maturity, we will have to strike the right balance between the key focus areas defined in the past and those of the future. This is a major challenge and we will need the backing of all of the researchers to meet it. I know that a lot is expected of us and it is important to take the right direction. The centre's maturity is also underpinned by the maturity of its management team. I think it's important to recruit senior managers - for the benefit of the research and its management, and also to restore the age pyramid - and give precedence to outside applications. It's one of the centre's local development trends.
It's important to develop the economic returns from research.
What are your priorities going to be during your time as Head of Science?
I think another important way of preparing for the future is to facilitate cooperation with regional research stakeholders, such as universities and other scientific bodies. This is important for the good of French research generally and for regional research in particular. I therefore intend to do my utmost to develop initiatives that foster extremely strong, positive ties between all of the stakeholders in our network of partners. I'd also like to be able to promote and further develop an open approach to Europe by stepping up submissions for European calls for projects. This is one of our centre's key missions, underscored by its position at the centre of Europe. Another important point, in my eyes, is to develop the economic returns from research, for example by encouraging software development in partnership arrangements. A lot of our research can have very practical applications, so it seems logical to let businesses and other organisations enjoy the benefit of it if it can be of use to them. It's also another way of showcasing our work. In this respect, our InriaTech scheme plays a very useful role because it helps match the findings of the research conducted in the various Inria project teams to businesses' needs.
- 1997: Doctoral degree at the Université de Compiègne (Choice of classification models)
- 2005 to date: Statistics teacher in the Université de Lille maths laboratory
- 2010: Appointed Scientific Director of the Modal project team
- 2014 (July): Appointed Assistant Scientific Director of the Inria Lille - Nord Europe research centre for a one-year period.
- 2017 (June): Appointed Scientific Director of the Inria Lille - Nord Europe research centre
* The Model project team is in common with the CNRS, Université de Lille 1 (Science and technology) and Université de Lille 2 (Law and health). It works within UMR 8524 CNRS-Université de Lille 1, Laboratoire Paul Painlevé, and EA 2694 "Public Health": epidemiology and quality of care" at Université de Lille 2.
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Isabelle Herlin - © Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli