Interview: Christine Morin, Inria’s newly appointed Director of European and International Partnerships

Christine Morin

The new head of the Department of European and International Partnerships (DPEI), appointed on 1 February, Christine Morin has worked at the Inria Rennes-Bretagne Atlantique Research Centre since 1991. From 2010, she was head of the Myriads team (a joint project team between Inria, Université de Rennes 1, INSA Rennes, the CNRS and ENS Rennes based at IRISA). From 2011 to 2013 she was the scientific coordinator of the Inria@SiliconValley program. She specializes in operating systems and distributed systems. Here she explains the challenges involved in European and International collaboration.

Christine, how have you been involved as a researcher in European and international collaborative projects?

I have been very much involved, right from the start of my career!
This has been such an enriching experience for me: having the chance to share all different points of view has been incredibly inspiring.
The collaborative projects run within the European Research Area provide opportunities to forge long-lasting collaborative relations, not only with academic partners, but also with small and large businesses. The two big European projects I coordinated meant that I was able to obtain funding to lead ambitious projects and bring together the top experts in Europe to make those projects a success. They gave me access to use cases, applications and data sets enabling me to validate our research results in full-scale, real-world environments.

So, over the years, I have built up a sound network of partners with whom it has been easy for my doctoral students to go and work on research projects, with the added bonus that some have been taken on after completing their theses.

During the two years that I spent at Berkeley, at the LBNL,  I learned new ways of working, especially as part of multidisciplinary teams. While I was there, I developed new scientific collaborations and also took on the role of Senior Scientific Researcher of the Inria@SiliconValley program. When I returned to France, I was appointed scientific correspondent for North America at the International Relations Department (the former DRI, which has now merged with the European Partnerships Department to become the DPEI), demonstrating my desire to work on the international scene. When the opportunity arose to join Inria’s Board of Directors as Director of European and International Partnerships, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I am really happy to be able contribute to the Institute’s outreach at European and international level.

How are you finding your new job so far?

First, I would like to thank my predecessor Thierry Priol for all his work! Since starting at the DPEI, working through the handover period with Thierry, I have become aware of the sheer volume of activity, both within the European Research Area and within the framework of international partnerships. I am impressed by how responsive the members of the DPEI are in dealing with the demands they receive from researchers and our partners, and from our supervisory ministries! I am looking forward to all the new European and international challenges ahead of us.

What’s been going on at the DPEI so far this year?

In January, we completed the selection process for associate teams and the examination of applications for the International Chairs for 2018.

  • Of the 54 associate team projects submitted, 29 have been selected, including 22 new teams. Several teams will help us strengthen Inria International Labs, which are to host 11 new associate teams. Note that this year, 2 new associate teams have been selected for collaborative projects with California and 3 associate teams with California launched in 2015 have been renewed for 3 years (read related article).
  • This year, the Inria International Chairs have been awarded to three world-class figures from the US, Sweden and Brazil.

Now we are about to launch our postdoc fellowship program, which provides another way to strengthen our partnerships in the context of our International Labs. Like the previous years, we plan to allocate one of these fellowships to Inria@SiliconValley.

Regarding the European Research Area, two junior researchers will join Inria project-teams this year after obtaining a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. It is worth noting that the European and International Partnership department provides individual help for preparing their proposal to applicants willing to join Inria through this competitive EU program. H2020 provides unique opportunities for talented researchers from all over the world to work in Europe. Inria is a destination of choice!

Short biography: Christine Morin’s involvement in international research

  • She has coordinated two large-scale European projects
    2006 – 2010 XtreemOS (grid computing)
    2010 – 2014 Contrail (cloud computing)
  • 2014: She was awarded the Étoile de l’Europe prize for her work within the European Research Area
  • She leads three associate teams working with research teams in the USA
  • She has worked on many collaborative projects in North America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
  • 2011-2013: Senior Scientific Researcher of  Inria@SiliconValley
  • Visiting researcher at the Data Science and Technology department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

See More about Christine