Careers at Inria - Interview
Stanley Durrleman at the discovery the medical imaging
Stanley Durrleman recently received the Gilles Kahn award for his PhD carried out at the University of Nice - Sophia Antipolis. Having had his PhD jointly supervised by the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Cachan, as part of the ASCLEPIOS project-team, he is currently conducting post-doctoral research at the University of Utah in the US. We take a look back at a scientific career in applied mathematics, which began with no preference for a specific field. He then moved into medical imaging.
What was your background prior to your PhD?
After attending the Ecole Polytechnique, I entered the Ecole Supérieure des Télécoms in 2004. During the final year of my postgraduate diploma that I was doing at the same time at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Cachan, I was in contact with Alain Trouvé, professor of mathematics, and Nicholas Ayache, director of the ASCLEPIOS project-team at the Inria Sophia Antipolis-Méditerranée centre, who also taught at the ENS. I decided to do my PhD " "Statistical models of currents for measuring the variability of anatomical curves, surfaces and their evolution" with them, as they had complementary approaches: Alain Trouvé's was more theoretical, while Nicholas Ayache and Xavier Pennec were more focused on the application side of research. Their goal was to adapt tools to resolve concrete problems in biology and medicine and make them available to a community of medical image analysis specialists, notably in the field of neurosciences.
What do you remember about your time at Inria?
Although just a PhD student, it was great that I was able to gain an insight into all the facets of research. By this I mean everything linked with the basic scientific and technical work, as well as the publication of articles, participation in conferences in France and abroad and participation in European projects. What's good about Inria is that you also learn how to sell your research, you're trained to do it, which is not the case everywhere. This enabled me to mix with an international community and become a member of it, to meet my "competitors". The results are immediate: even before I finished my PhD I had three post-doctoral offers in the US, at MIT, John Hopkins and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I chose the latter option rather than a more prestigious establishment, where I would have been just one of many post-doctoral researchers.
What are your career prospects?
During my PhD I discovered medical imaging, a sector that has a lot going on right now. My aim is to pursue this path and to continue developing tools for neurosciences and biology. This field enables an academic researcher to be in contact with surgeons and scientists in neurosciences. Inria, which is increasingly involved in hospital environments while at the same time retaining its methodological know-how, provides this framework for collaboration without being disconnected from real issues.