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Emilia Tantar: a committed European researcher

Emilia Tantar, who comes from Romania, currently lives in Luxembourg after spending three years in France as a member of the Dolphin project team at Inria Lille-Nord Europe: an international journey that has, in no particular order, given her an interest in business, a liking for mussels and fries and a good knowledge of European languages.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m testing the security of IT systems to improve the protection of supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada), which are used in electricity distribution, for transporting chemicals, gas and oil pipelines, etc. In my lab at Luxembourg university, we’re working on the architecture of the Scada system used by Creos, which manages electricity and natural gas networks in Luxembourg. We design software solutions that we test in our lab and then transfer to their system.


Is working with businesses important for you?

Yes, in fact I got into the business culture when I was doing my PhD at the Inria Lille-Nord Europe center. Most research in Luxembourg is funded via agreements with the private sector, which I see as having two advantages: good supervision of my work and a gateway to a possible career in the private sector: I’m actually planning to start up my own business this year.


How did you “land up” in Lille?

I was a student at Alexandru Ioan Cuza university in Iasi, Romania, and it has a partnership with Lille university. Thanks to the Erasmus program, I spent several months in 2005 at the Laboratoire d’Informatique Fondamentale in Lille. I joined the Dolphin team at Inria just afterwards.


What memories do you have of your time in Lille?

People are very friendly in France, particularly colleagues: French people kiss whereas Romanians shake hands. I also really enjoyed the variety of meals in France and the north: I became a big fan of mussels and fries. From the more cultural viewpoint, I found the giants that parade on public holidays very intriguing to start with so I bought a dictionary that listed them all. I learned a lot about local customs, history, traditional crafts and so on.


And your professional memories?

I met so many people during my time in France. In my four years as a member of the Dolphin team, which specialized in parallel cooperative multi-criteria optimization, I came into contact with a lot of people from industry and international organizations. We were working in a very dynamic environment.

I also helped found the Lille Nord-de-France branch of the IEEE, an international professional association, and Tilda, an association for IT PhD students at Lille and visiting doctors, which I chaired. The dialogue I was able to establish via these associations with students and specialists in other disciplines was very rewarding and stimulating. For instance, we discovered common working methods that led to significant time savings.


You also co-founded the Evolve international conferences

Yes, since 2011 we have been inviting engineers, researchers and students to meet once a year to discuss topics involving probability, set oriented numerics and evolutionary computing. Each conference has been held in a different country: Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands and China, and the 2015 conference will actually be held in my native country.


What do you always take when you travel or move house?

My books! I really love paper. I got the bug young because my father was in charge of a library in Romania and I worry about not finding anything to read in French or Romanian where I’m going. Right now I can’t put downLe Cygne Noirby Nassim Nicholas Taleb. His theory on rare and unpredictable events connects with the work that I’m doing to start up my business researching into anomalies in mobile application design.

Brief résumé

Emilia Tantar was born in Romania. Aged 33, she has one child with her husband, who is also a researcher. After spending three years with the Dolphin team at the Inria Lille-Nord Europe center, where she prepared and obtained her doctorate, she discovered she had a weakness for mussels and fries and the giants of northern France. Her research then took her to the Inria Bordeaux Sud-Ouest center, followed by Mexico and now to Luxembourg university, where she has been a research associate since October 2012.


2009: Awarded a PhD in information technology with distinction by Université de Lille 1.

2013: Her bookEvolve – a bridge between probability, set oriented numerics and evolutionary computation, published by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

2015: Starts up her own business, Black Swan.


Keywords: Romania Luxembourg Evolutionary computation Dolphin project-team Europe