Valeria Loscri: In love with digital
Valeria Loscri has exchanged the warm sun of southern Italy for the altogether different climate of Lille.A passionate computer scientist, she has now brought her networking expertise to the Inria Lille Nord – Europe FUN project team.
What is your current research project?
As a member of the Inria FUN project team, I am working on the future ubiquitous networks consisting of RF devices, sensor networks and wireless robots. My aim is to make these networks more efficient by teaching the constituent components to recognise each other, to communicate with their environment, and to organise themselves automatically. These networks are a major challenge as they play an essential role in the development of future smart cities.
Why did you choose this topic?
I’ve always been interested in digital technology. When I was a child, I was fascinated by all the different electronic components and the way in which they could be brought together to form a working system. With that background, it was natural for me to choose to study computer science at university. I found the combination of concrete results and innovative technology very attractive. My PhD work continued along the same path, working on the self-organisation of wireless communications systems. You could say that I fell in love with the topic. I became aware of the incredible possibilities that these networks opened up and the services that they could provide for their users.
Where has your career taken you?
After completing my studies in Italy, I spent six months in Houston in the USA in 2006, finalising my PhD and adding a little international experience to my CV. Returning to Italy, I worked for seven years as a post-doc researching optimisation algorithms inspired by the rules regulating nature.
Why did you choose to come to France?
The working conditions for researchers in Italy were getting worse, so I decided to look for other opportunities in France, one of my favourite countries. At first, I was more drawn to the south of France as I come from the south of Italy, but I went to a seminar in Lille and I liked the town very much. Also, Lille lies at a crossroads in Europe, which is ideal for researchers like me who are often required to travel. All these reasons led me to apply to Inria Lille – Nord Europe, and I was offered a position in 2013. I have no regrets as the people of Lille are very welcoming and I very quickly felt at home.
What differences have you found in your field of research between Italy, France and the USA?
Inria is similar to American universities in its approach to technology transfer. The advances we make in our research are very quickly transformed into new products and services. We collaborate with a large number of SMEs, industries and businesses. This gives a direction to our research. In Italy, on the other hand, the work is less concrete and less applied, and it relies more on simple simulation
Are you working on any collaborations with Italy?
In general, Italy and France tend to work closely together on digital systems. At Inria, we take part in many European consortiums where lots of Italians from universities such as Pisa and Bologna are present. Sharing borders with six other countries, including Italy, we are also participating in the VITAL European R&D project focusing on the challenges posed by inter-system communications in the development of smart cities. Given that we often work in similar or complementary fields, collaboration between French and Italian research teams is so frequent as to be effectively continuous.
Do you miss Italy much?
Of course I miss my family, but I also miss real pizzas and ‘proper’ cafés! And the southern Italian countryside, and even Italian music, often seems very far away. However, I have made some new discoveries since I came to Lille. I had never heard ch’ti spoken until I arrived and I was not able at all to pronounce ch’ti correctly. The first time I met the centre director I totally mispronounced, “ch’ti“ in a very funny way!
Higher education: Information Engineering at the University of Calabria (Italy)
Position: Permanent researcher
Favourite school subject: Biology
Favourite Italian dish: Pizza primavera (vegetarian)
Favourite French dish: Strawberry tart
Valeria Loscri in three dates
2nd of October 2008: Birth of her first child, a boy called Gabriele.
23rd of November 2010: Birth of her second child, a girl called Elena.
27th September 2013: Valeria moves to Lille and begins her career at Inria