"Working as a researcher is fantastic and it gives you exceptional freedom". The ENS de Lyon interviews the mathematician Alice Guionnet. (Photo credit: Bryce Vickmark)
Alice Guionnet, CNRS research director at the UMPA laboratory (ENS de Lyon, CNRS) and CNRS silver medal winner, has just been elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences.
After a silver medal from the CNRS in 2010, The “Académie des sciences” has opened its doors to you. You are a young academic! What do you think about this recognition?
It is a great honor, a great pleasure but also a big responsibility. It is also true that it makes me feel younger: it’s been a while since I have considered myself as being a new recruit!
How can this recognition boost/give additional support to your research work?
I’m happy to join a team of distinguished researchers from all sciences. I very much hope to work with them. For example, I am pleased to see Jean-Philippe Bouchard, who was also elected this year. It is an opportunity, I hope, to resume our collaboration.
What do you want to say to your young mathematician colleagues?
Go, girls! Young girls are too inclined to limit their ambition, to decide to go into teaching, even after a brilliant thesis, when they could continue to do both teaching and research. The job of a researcher is fantastic and it gives you exceptional freedom.
Why is your work unique?
The originality of my work was to bring ideas of probabilities in areas where they were not very developed, such as algebra of operators or more recently tessellations. At the heart of my work, we can often find a beautiful mathematical object: the random dice. They can be seen as large data tables; their value is uncertain. One of the attractions of the random matrices is that they are so natural that they appear today in many fields in statistics, in physics, in various fields of mathematics or, more recently, in computer science with the development of large databases.
Finally, I would like to thank the CNRS for their trust, as they recruited me at a very young age, before finishing my thesis. My thanks also go to the ENS de Lyon which enabled me to develop my skills and I would also like to thank my team members and colleagues for the pure joy of working with them. I hope to be able to contribute to the development of new generations by working at the Academy.
Video: Interview with a dedicated researcher in the series "Mots de chercheurs"