Spotlight on Young Researchers: Paul Hauseux

 

Paul Hauseux was always interested in science, but only recently settled on the researcher path. Before that, his career ambitions stretched from working in sports or music to teaching science. Some years and a PhD later, the French national has come to Luxembourg for his computational engineering Postdoc in the team of ERC grantee Stéphane Bordas at the University of Luxembourg.

“I had the opportunity to do a PhD at University of Lille and this experience with research convinced me to continue in this direction”, Paul says about how he ended up becoming a researcher, adding:

“I like to continuously learn and I have a lot of scientific curiosity. Research gives me freedom and independence and it also enables me to travel, particularly to conferences. In most cases, researchers work in universities and a part of their work is teaching, an aspect I also appreciate.”

After completing his PhD in France, which was funded by the French national radioactive waste management agency (ANDRA), Paul was looking for a place to do a Postdoc. He stumbled across an open position in his field at the Institute of Computational Engineering at the University of Luxembourg, and in January 2016 he came to Luxembourg.

Modelling the effects of uncertainty

Paul works with Prof Stéphane Bordas in the Engineering Science research unit at the University and is a member of the Legato team, which aims to build intuitive and interactive platforms for computational mechanics problems. Paul specifically works on “stochastic finite element methods” – but what exactly is that?

Various fields such as mechanics, geophysics, dynamical systems, statistical physics and mathematical finance rely on modelling what effect uncertainty could have on the output of a system. When it is impossible to analytically solve a problem, numerical methods – such as the ‘finite element method’ are used to develop a model that approximates a solution.

Paul says: ”When parameters involved in the model have a certain degree of uncertainty, stochastic methods, e.g. the stochastic finite element method, are used to take into account this uncertainty. Uncertainties can be modelled by both random variables and random fields in my research.”

“Numerical models and simulations are now commonly used to assist clinicians. I work on the simulation of soft tissue undergoing large deformations and address the problem of quantifying the effect of uncertainties on certain quantities of interest to the user e.g. displacement in a region. The picture shows the numerical results of the displacement of the brain and a target in the brain during brain shift (during a surgery). Monte Carlo methods are employed to propagate uncertainty and so provide statistical results. These methods lead to a collection of independent realisations of the forward model to solve and the picture shows the results for a given set of parameters.”

So what exactly does life look as a computational engineering researcher? It comes to no surprise that daily activities involve spending a lot of time on the machine you are working to improve:

“I spend practically all my day working on a computer. I split my time between implementing new numerical methods and reading scientific papers. Discussions with my colleagues and my advisor are also necessary to make progress and guide my research in the right direction. It is important to be aware of new advances in my field.

“When I obtain interesting results then it is time to write a paper and to attend conferences and/or seminars to show and share my work with other researchers. It also gives me the opportunity to learn, to meet new people and start collaborations. The researcher who is 100% alone and locked in his office is almost non-existent!”

In terms of career goals, Paul would like to have his own research programme and improve the scientific knowledge in his domain. “I would also be glad if my methods can be used by the industry, because there is still a big gap between scientific publications and what it is really made in the industrial sector. On top of that, writing a book before the end of my career is also an objective”, Paul says.

Luxembourg research has “significant potential”

“I originally thought that I would stay for a short experience, but I quickly realised working conditions here are excellent”, Paul says, adding that he was able to extend his initial contact, also pointing out that Luxembourg has some significant potential to become a research destination:

“The creation of the Centre of Excellence in Scientific Computing will enable connections between the different communities. In Luxembourg and with the new campus in Belval, a large diversity of disciplines is present in the same location. All disciplines have everything to gain, to share and bring together important resources concerning computational sciences, because they all use common bases.

“This centre will also help to build partnerships with companies. Finally, most people who come to Luxembourg want to stay because Luxembourg is also a pleasant place to live.”

Paul Hauseux

About Spotlight on Young Researchers

Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. This article is the 13th in a series of around 25 articles, which will be published on a weekly basis. You can see more articles below as and when they are published.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: A gas sensor powered by natural light

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Spotlight on Young Researchers: Hussein Rappel

Hussein Rappel uses a mathematical learning approach to try to predict and simulate physical phenomena. The Iranian national came to Luxembourg in 2014 to join the team of Prof Stephane Bordas at the University of Luxembourg, where he is now in the 3rd year of his PhD in Computational Science – and sees great potential in Luxembourg as a research destination.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Konstantinos Papadopoulos

During his computer science studies, Konstantinos Papadopoulos realised how many unexplored areas there are in the field and his desire for becoming a researcher was born. Now in the 2nd year of his PhD at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, the Greek national works on developing innovative new approaches to security surveillance.

Spotlight on Young Researchers – revisited 5 years later: From Luxembourg to Australia

When we wrote about Chetan Arora in the 2017 edition of Spotlight on Young Researchers, he was a Postdoc working in requirements engineering at the SnT, having just completed his PhD. 5 years later, Chetan is on the other side of the world working as a Senior Lecturer and Academic Director for coursework research. We spoke to Chetan about how he is still a “houfreg Lëtzebuerger”, what he is working on now, and why after working both in industry and academia, he found his heart to be in the world of research.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Increasing the diversity of plant species used for vegetable oil

Vegetable oil – mainly palm oil – is heavily relied upon in the production of food, cosmetics, and biofuel. The increase in droughts also affects the standard cultivation of palm oil – alternatives are needed. Agricultural scientists are investigating the potential of a new alternative drought-resistant source for the most widely-used kind of vegetable oil.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Dark patterns and the battle to free the web from manipulation

Online services are designed to offer great user experiences and accommodate our needs. They can also use manipulative design strategies to push us to disclose our personal information, purchase goods and subscriptions or spend an excessive quantity of time on apps and games. Learn about ‘dark patterns’ and an interdisciplinary research effort to free the web from manipulation.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Thomas Elliot

When Thomas Elliot (Tom) cycled from Indonesia to London, he witnessed many people living in hardship. Motivated to research how consumption affects social and environmental justice in a bid to help reduce the hardship witnessed, the New Zealand national applied for an open PhD position at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), where he now works on a project that fuses urban metabolism and ecosystem services.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: The human gut microbiome and the clues it holds

Research is steadily painting a picture revealing the significance the human gut microbiome plays in health and disease. From gastrointestinal tract disorders to the beginnings and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and beyond, the gut microbiome is a treasure trove of clues for researchers. We speak to three women in science – a biomedical scientist, a microbiologist and a bioscience engineer – about organs-on-chips and restoring an imbalanced microbiome.

Spotlight on Young Researchers – revisited 5 years later: A post-PhD life in finance

When Eric Finn Schaanning was featured in Spotlight on Young Researchers in 2017, he had just defended his AFR PhD on fire sales and systemic risk in financial networks at Imperial College London. In 2017, Eric attended the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and in 2018, won an FNR Award for his PhD thesis. 5 years after his PhD, we catch up with Eric, who has been working on cyber risks, financial and regulatory stress tests as well operational risk management – a career spanning Norway, Frankfurt and Zürich – and reflect on the value his PhD has added.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Ramping up carbohydrates production

Carbs are all around us: a major constituent in food, they also play a role in many biological processes such as intercellular communication; they are in demand in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are currently used as anticoagulants and in skincare. With the goal of no longer having to rely solely on nature’s production of carbs, scientists have been working on ways to ramp up production. A case for chemistry!

Spotlight on Young Researchers – revisited 5 years later: From drones to space robotics

When we wrote about Miguel Olivares Mendez in the 2017 edition of Spotlight on Young Researchers, the researcher was working on an FNR JUMP project, focussing on developing algorithms for autonomous drones. The robotics scientist has continued to build his research career in Luxembourg – 5 years later, Miguel is a Professor leading a research group with a focus on space robotics.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Dementia in neurodegeneration – defining the role of microglia, the brain’s immune cells

An estimated 55 million people in the world suffer from dementia, with the number estimated to increase to 78 million by 2030. In Luxembourg, more than 10,000 people suffer from dementia, including patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies. These incurable diseases have an increasing socio-economic impact along with the burden on patients and caregivers. One of the approaches researchers are taking is studying microglia, immune cells in the brain.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: The historical relationship between the European Community and the Soviet Union

As war rages in Ukraine, the topic PhD candidate Claude Ewert has been researching for the past three years is perhaps more relevant now than ever: the relationship between the European Community and the Soviet Union. The historian is gathering valuable information on the EC’s early foreign policy and the obstacles that had to be overcome to try to make the Community speak with one voice.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Understanding drug resistance in skin cancer

Melanoma is a rare type of skin cancer, but it is the deadliest type – and incidence is on the rise. Metastatic melanoma has seen a rapid emergence in drug resistance: After a few months, treatment stops working and tumours begin to grow again. Molecular biologists are working to understand why this happens.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Isabel Z. Martínez

Isabel Z. Martínez has been interested in how policies are put in place and how they affect people’s lives for as long as she can remember. After completing her Masters in Economics, she realised that academia was the ideal way to quench her thirst for analysing large data sets and finding answers to questions addressing people’s well-being and policy decisions. The Swiss-Spanish national has been studying income and wealth inequality in Switzerland for years and has now come to Luxembourg as a Postdoc at LISER to expand her research to the Grand Duchy. We spoke to Isabel about life as a research economist, and how it has already enabled her to travel across the globe, as well as work with some of the foremost researchers in her field.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Zhe Liu

Zhe Liu’s passion for research grew from a desire to find out how things work and why. Considering himself as a ‘Luxembourg-made Chinese researcher’, Zhe came to Luxembourg in 2011 for his AFR PhD, a project for which he later won an FNR Award for ‘Outstanding PhD Thesis’ in 2016.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Max Hilaire Wolter

During his Bachelor studies in physics and photovoltaics at the University of Luxembourg, Max Hilaire Wolter was exposed to live-action research for the first time. The experience left such a positive impression that Max proactively sought out to return to the same lab for a PhD after completing his Master’s studies abroad. We spoke to the Luxembourg national about why research is fun, solar cells and the importance of science outreach.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Jo Hoeser

Ever since he was a child, Jo Hoeser wanted to understand the function of complex systems. He found himself taking apart and trying to fix broken electronic devices. Then fascination for chemistry came into the mix. Fast forward some years and the Luxembourg national completed his AFR PhD in biochemistry at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg – and wants to return to the Grand Duchy to continue his career in research.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: The hidden half of plants

The hidden part of plants – the root systems – play a vital role both in plant survival, and in our ecosystem, as plants store carbon in the soil. Scientists are working to understand how roots are affected by changes in water availability, but how do researchers even approach the study of roots?

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Antonio Ancora

In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Thomas Schaubroeck

Thomas Schaubroeck specialises in sustainability assessment of products. We speak to the Belgian national about the research he is undertaking in the framework of an Industrial Fellowship between the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and company Tarkett; how working with industry differs from academia; and how he hopes his research can help industry steer toward a more sustainable future.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Paulo Carvalho

Having started his professional career 16 years ago, Paulo Carvalho did not plan any major career changes. Then an opportunity came up that would change work life as he knew it and a few years later, the French/Portuguese national is completing his PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Empowering critical digital humanities practice

Digitisation has had a significant impact on humanities research: not only has it changed how many scholars conduct their research, it has also led to completely new fields of research, such as digital humanities, a highly interdisciplinary science. Linguist Lorella Viola is interested in how software can enable critical digital humanities practice.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Environmental factors and their role in Parkinson’s Disease

An estimated 10% of Parkinson’s Diseases cases are due to genetic factors – in the search for answers as to what could cause the other 90%, research is increasingly finding evidence pointing to environmental factors. To paint a clearer picture of what role chemicals could play in the disease, researchers are for example looking for ‘fingerprints’ of chemicals in biological samples.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Guillaume Nataf

“Would matter be perfect, it would be boring” says Guillaume Nataf, who has an oozing passion for physics and teaching fundamental science. The French national did his PhD in the group of FNR PEARL Chair Jens Kreisel at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), in collaboration with the French Atomic Commission (CEA). We spoke to Guillaume, who has just started a Postdoc at the University of Cambridge, about life as a researcher.

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