A career dedicated to science
Originally a professor of mathematics, Christophe completed a thesis in computer graphics at the Laboratoire d'Informatique Fondamentale de Lille (now part of the Centre de Recherche en Informatique, Signal et Automatique de Lille). Recruited as a lecturer at ENIC (now Mines-Telecom Nord de France) in 1991, he joined Eudit (now Polytech Lille) as a Professor in 1996. He headed the Graphix research team from 1995 to 2010.
Christophe Chaillou was seconded to Inria from September 1999 to August 2001 as Research Director, and created the ALCOVE project-team, one of the first teams of the Inria Futurs center, prefiguring the new Inria center in Lille. The ALCOVE project-team then spawned a long line of new teams, still active today within CRIStAL and/or the Inria center at the University of Lille (MINT, DEFROST and LOKI), but also in Strasbourg (MIMESIS).
A taste for art and artistic creation
In 2010, while continuing his teaching activities, he joined Pictanovo, a French association dedicated to promoting and supporting audiovisual and film production in the Hauts-de-France region, on a part-time basis. In 2020, he will be appointed Chargé de missions Art & Sciences in the cultural department of the University of Lille, where he will continue to initiate projects to bring together the worlds of research and art in all its forms.
Over the years, Christophe has put all his energy into initiating and developing research activities around virtual reality, surgical simulators and haptic devices. He was also keen to forge links between the arts and sciences at an early stage, motivating researchers from disciplines other than his own to work alongside students in the arts, such as those at the Fresnoy.
A generator of ideas, he has given considerable support to the development of research into haptics and tactile feedback, and more generally into Virtual Reality and Human-Computer Interaction, at the University of Lille and at Inria.
Christophe has played a major role in my career: it was he who motivated me to go into research when I finished my engineering studies... A little later, it was thanks to him that I joined the ALCOVE team at Inria, and he helped me again when I passed the competitive examination to become a research director. I'm very grateful to him for everything he gave me. We kept in touch and planned to work together again on setting up an arts and sciences program in robotics. As with all the subjects he launched in Lille (haptics, surgical simulators, collaborative 3D tools, etc.), he had a real vision and put his energy into the arts and science theme he had been working on for the last few years. We will miss him.
Inria Research Director, Head of the DEFROST project-team.
Christophe was head of a research team when I arrived as a young lecturer 23 years ago. Christophe was an academic with a sometimes difficult temperament, but at heart he was incredibly benevolent, a good listener who let his skills shine through. He had an instinct for managing people, and never shied away from a difficult situation. He had the temerity and sometimes almost youthful enthusiasm to constantly launch an unreasonable number of projects. He had that extremely rare quality in the research world of knowing how to take a back seat once a project has been launched, creating dynamics while putting young people first, encouraging them to grow, advising and helping them. Over time he became more than a colleague, he became a friend with whom discussions were always as rich as they were varied. Like many of those who worked with him over the long term, I mourn the loss of his friend.
Professor at the University of Lille, Head of the MINT* team at CRIStAL. *MINT was the Inria project-team following on from ALCOVE.
Many of us can say that Christophe played an important role for us, both professionally and on a human level. He had an incredible talent for identifying possible links between people or structures, and for helping to bring these links to fruition. He was behind many of the meetings and projects I witnessed or played a part in at the interfaces between different communities. He brought me to Lille and helped me join Inria, then continually pushed me towards academic colleagues, in digital technology or other disciplines, local authorities and socio-economic players. He did this formidably well, sometimes insistently but always sympathetically (those who knew him know what I mean, don't they?). He was right to insist. He opened my eyes to a lot of things outside research, and I'm very grateful to him for that.
Director of the Inria Centre at the University of Bordeaux (previously head of the Inria MJOLNIR team in Lille, now LOKI, a MINT spin-off, and recruited to ALCOVE).