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Prizes and distinctions

Hélène Robak - 28/09/2010

Winners of the French Academy of Sciences' 2010 Alcan Prize

Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau, research director at Inria Paris-Rocquencourt, and Tony Lelièvre, a graduate of the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, the Centre for Education and Research in Mathematics and Scientific Computing (CERMICS) and the École des Ponts Paris Tech, have been awarded the French Academy of Sciences' 2010 Alcan Prize.

3 questions for Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau and Tony Lelièvre, winners of the French Academy of Sciences' 2010 Alcan Prize

Can you tell us about your background and the relations between MICMAC and REO?

JFG: I am a civil engineer, with a degree from the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées (1994) and a university teaching qualification in mathematics (1995). I did my PhD at the Ecole des Ponts (1998) on mathematical modelling of the electrolysis of aluminium, under the supervision of Claude Le Bris. After a post-doctoral research placement in Lausanne, I was hired by Inria in 1999 to work on Benoît Perthame's project. In 2004 Marc Thiriet and I proposed the creation of the REO project-team, which I currently lead.

TL: I went to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1996, then the Ecole des Ponts in 1999, where I did my PhD under the supervision of Claude Le Bris. It was at that point that I started working on the modelling of aluminium electrolysis tanks, particularly through a year-long internship at the Pechiney research laboratory (which later became Alcan), under the supervision of Jean-Frédéric and Claude Le Bris. After my PhD and a post-doctoral placement in Montreal, in September 2005 I got a job as a researcher at CERMICS, which is the applied mathematics laboratory of the Ecole des Ponts. Since 2009, I have been head of the multi-scale and molecular simulation team at CERMICS, whose members are all part of the MICMAC project-team.  

JFG and TL:  MICMAC and REO are two projects concerning quite different topics. What brings us together is our scientific approach: modelling of problems from physics, biology or engineering, followed by analysis and digital simulation. Together, we have worked on issues concerning computational fluid mechanics, particularly multi-physical problems occurring in mobile domains. Recently, our collaboration has focused on modelling the dynamics of the edge of a free surface. Some of REO's current work on cardiac electrophysiology and blood flows draw on what we did together on magnetohydrodynamics.

What work was this prize awarded for?

JFG and TL:  This prize is for the work done on modelling electrolysis of aluminium. We have developed computational methods in liquid metal magnetohydrodynamics which allow us to simulate the movements of conducting fluids in a magnetic field. We have worked for many years with the engineers from Pechiney and Alcan to implement these methods in the context of industrial manufacture of aluminium. The longevity and richness of this collaboration owe a great deal to Claude Le Bris, who led the project from 1994 onwards, as well as the drive and expertise of Pierre-Louis Lions and Michel Bercovier in the early years.

What does this prize mean to you and what will it bring you?

JFG and TL: Like many applied mathematicians, we believe that our discipline develops through contact with concrete problems, and that it can help to address these problems. We gratefully accept this prize as recognition of that approach and, more generally, as an encouragement to get involved in industrial problems.

Keywords: Académie des sciences REO MICMAC Prizes Paris - Rocquencourt

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