Archive for April, 2014



A proper blog should start by proper introductions, right? So, yes, we were about to talk about my crew (when you shamelessly went away for a drink). Let’s start by saying that there are nowadays no such things as good researchers: there are good research teams. Or groups, or labs, or whatever you call them. Of course, there are exceptions, those very few who only publish alone, don’t collaborate, mentor no student and host no postdoc. But unlike the alchemists of old, now research is done in groups, with idea sharing, brainstorming, advices, cooperation, group motivation and all other good things that come up with the team spirit. Ok, it does include good researchers – you like having the last word, don’t you?

So, if some people see you to succeed, they should realise that it has much to do with the fact that you have a great team supporting you, working hard, and motivating you to work even harder (more on that later).

I am at this stage of my carrier when I am no longer only surrounded by a lone PhD student, a postdoc or the occasional master intern. I have greatly benefitted from the talents of some of them – Stéphane Caut and Elena Angulo, to name just a PhD and a postdoc. But now it is different: my group is bigger and stronger, as I have been lucky enough to be able to hire two tenure colleagues.

Elsa Bonnaud is an Assistant Professor, which in France means she teaches a lot. A lot. But she is bright and efficient enough to manage to keep a publication rate that is one of a full researcher. She is wise and experienced (yet young) and shares her wisdom with me as often as with the rest of the group. Meaning she is a hell of an adviser. She is always laughing, or at least smiling, and a natural leader. I’m so glad I’ve been able to recruit her.

Gloria Luque has also just been recruited, although she was in the lab a few years before she got tenure. In addition to her own projects, she helps me run the group, supervise the students, advise the postdocs, animate the scientific meetings, run the logistics, etc. In short, she does a bit of everything. She also has very good leader skills. She is the Ant Queen, the Master of the Slaves. Which makes me glad that I’m neither a male ant nor a slave; although I’m sure she doesn’t know that. Really happy too that, after several years as a postdoc, I’ve been able to hire her for good.

But I’m only half-way through my crew, and already I have tired you… I haven’t taken the time to read the countless “tips on how to blog”, I’m too lazz- hum busy for that, but I have this nagging feeling that entries should be short. Which is good, because I’m too laz- busy to write long entries. So let’s keep it short, and keep the rest of the introductions for the next Episode. Coming next. The ephemeral part of the crew.



So I’m here, starting this new blog, even though I don’t remember well which argument got to me most. Probably first to keep a personal record of things, and also to leave a trace for when our long-dead civilization is unburied by aliens. Perhaps also in order to hone my writing skills, with an unrealistic hope to somehow soften my French accent. Or to get to know more colleagues that I don’t get to interact with in other ways. Most likely, also because I’m getting tired to repeat some advises or bits of wisdom to my students and I’m thinking that if I write them down once and for all, I’ll save time (time-saving certainly is an unusual argument to start a blog). Or, maybe, because sometimes I’m a real chatterbox; and, I’m slightly addicted to my mac. So, I can reconcile the two and indulge in that modern version of narcissistically talking (writing) to myself, in the delusional feeling that, maybe, someone will find one’s way in the myriad of much better written blogs the Net has now to offer, and read this as well. Oh, and yes, I tend to write endless sentences.

So, rather than dwelling on the psychological flaws that pushed me here, I should start my first entry, which I thought could be introducing my research team. After all, they are increasingly becoming my raison d’être.

But may not just right now. I’m tired already, and I need a drink. You probably do too.