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Guillemette Marot “Spanning the worlds of mathematics and health”

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At Inria, Guillemette Marot is used to working in a male-dominated environment. Yet, as the only woman out of the seven permanent members of the project team called Modal - Models for Data Analysis and Learning (a joint undertaking with CNRS, University of Lille 1 and University of Lille 2) - she had no difficulty finding her place.

I had no problem fitting in with my male colleagues. There are fewer women simply because there are more male applicants in the fields of mathematics and statistics, but Inria is pursuing a policy to promote the hiring of female researchers and therefore foster gender equality

Guillemette, who is thirty, carries out her research in her office in Villeneuve d’Ascq and is a research lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine (with the Inria Lille 2 Chair of Excellence ) where she is also part of a group of researchers, making the statistician a unique member of the teaching staff at Lille 2. “My work spans the worlds of mathematics and health. At the university, I have the opportunity to have valuable discussions with doctors, giving me feedback about the usefulness of our research. We work on statistical modelling for high throughput experiments in genomics".

Research to integrate genomic data

Guillemette Marot’s daily activity is a far cry from the images usually associated with her profession. No, researchers do not spend all their time alone, cooped up in a laboratory. For Guillemette, the opposite is true! What she likes most is teamwork and the interdisciplinary aspect of her career. At Inria, Guillemette is part of a close-knit project team of statisticians who design generative models with the aim of integrating heterogeneous data.
“The main area of application for my work is medicine, in particular when it comes to integrating genomic data in order to understand certain biological mechanisms. As such, I’m involved in the work carried out by SIRIC ONCO Lille , one of eight integrated research sites for cancer in France.

Knowing how to sell the originality of her research

But her work also comprises another mission: seeking funding. “Regular activities are funded by the Institute or by the Faculty but we have to set up projects to request funding if we want to make applications or mentor other young researchers”. She has to know how to sell the originality of her research and explain its contributions in detail. “During these periods, we work more and have to put in a lot of extra hours. Inria provides assistance for setting up financial arrangements for projects, but it’s up to the researcher to find the money, that’s part of our job”, says Guillemette. Officially created in 2012 for an initial period of four years, the Modal project team is currently carrying out its first phase of research. Next year, Guillemette and her colleagues should commit to a new four-year period in order to continue developing their project.

Keywords: Génome Bio-informatique Statistique Femme dans la recherche