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Researchers here and elsewhere : Spain

Maria Gomez La Cruz © Alice Decarpigny

Originally from the Spanish city of Valencia, 28-year-old Maria Gomez Lacruz is working on a PhD thesis with the Lille-based Spirals team (associated with Lille 1 University*). She is one of many talented young scientists from outside France who have chosen Inria. We spoke to her about her experience.

What brought you to Inria?

I started working in Lille in October 2013, after a Master's Degree at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. I began a PhD on self-healingmobile phones within the Spirals team, under the supervision of Romain Rouvoy and Lionel Seinturier. Specifically, we are developing mobile applications capable of repairing themselves in the event of a bug, using data collected from users.

Were you reluctant to leave your home country?

Going abroad wasn't a problem for me at all. I had already spent an Erasmus year studying in Halmstad, in southern Sweden. When I got the chance to come to France, I grabbed it with both hands. I applied for a vacancy and was then invited for an interview. I had only been to France once before, on a trip to Paris in 2002.

And how are you getting on learning the language?

Inria offers French classes. It's a real plus, particularly as I had never studied the language before! There are only three or four of us in each class, which is ideal, and the teachers come to our workplace. It saves a lot of time compared to taking classes at university.

 « Inria, an ideal environment for researchers. »

What do you think the big differences are between research in France and Spain?

The difference is first and foremost an economic one. With the crisis, the Spanish government has stopped a lot of research programmes. All scientific disciplines have been affected. As a result, researchers have to seek work abroad. Those who have been kept on get quite low salaries.

In France, universities almost always ask for funding before allowing a student to start a PhD. That is not the case in Spain. PhD students can therefore find themselves in difficulty very quickly.

If I had to give a disadvantage of France compared to Spain, I would say the complicated administrative formalities. It's all very painstaking and the forms are only provided in French, with no English translation.

That said, there are some unfair stereotypes. The French are sometimes seen as being obtuse, but the people I have met in Lille totally shatter that cliché. I love them! The people are really very kind, open and friendly. Another positive point is that we all have the resources we need to work effectively. It's the ideal research environment.

* within UMR 8022 CNRS-Lille 1-Lille 3-Inria, LIFL.


  • Area : 505 992 km² Spain flag
  • Population : 47 millions
  • Capital : Madrid
  • Languages : Spanish
  • Money : Euro


Keywords: Spirals research team Spain