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.”
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.”
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.
Overcoming antiquated ideas about history
To many, the Middle Ages are synonymous with the term the ‘Dark Ages’ – a time of decline. The term was coined hundreds of years ago by the era referring to itself as the ‘Renaissance’ – a rebirth of norms and standards. There is in fact much more to the complexity of the Middle Ages and historians are working on overcoming these antiquated ideas. For this research, Dr Christa Birkel won a 2021 FNR Award in the category ‘Outstanding PhD Thesis’.
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.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: AI for ethical and legal debates
Looking at popular culture, big tech and ongoing societal debates – technological progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) affects us all. Researchers from numerous scientific fields are working on the best way to bring AI forward, including the study of systems able to autonomously reason over arguments – calculators for philosophical, ethical or legal debates.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: German Castignani
After doing his Master’s degree and working in the private sector in Argentina, German Castignani decided to do a research internship in France, which piqued his interest for research. After completing his PhD in wireless networking in France, the Italian-Argentinian national came to Luxembourg, where he added an entrepreneurial perspective to his vehicular telematics research, co-founding the SnT’s first spin-off Motion-S.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Adham Ayman Al-Sayyad
Adham Ayman Al-Sayyad is a PhD researcher working on multidisciplinary cross-border project. In our article, we explore the Egyptian national’s research around the topic of laser beam joining; why his next step post-PhD would be to spend some time working in industry to understand his research topic from new angles; and his passion for bridging cultures to bring people together.
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: A hazelnut quality forecasting system
Can we predict the likelihood of a hazelnut tree becoming sick? Or what quality defects, and in what percentage, will be present in the final harvest? Science could soon make this possible, thanks to a hazelnut quality forecasting system based on a combination of machine learning and simulation models.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Towards predicting ageing-related diseases
A rapid increase in both life expectancy and global population size has led to a rise in the prevalence of chronic ageing-associated diseases. Brain and heart age-associated diseases including hypertension, stroke, heart failure, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide. Researchers are working on much-needed ways to predict these diseases.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: A gas sensor powered by natural light
Many of the things we furnish our homes and office with emit gases that we are oblivious to inhaling. As eliminating these items from our lives is unrealistic, science wants to understand that which we cannot eliminate, thus more effective sensors are needed. Material scientist Rutuja Bhusari combines materials at nanoscale to create a gas sensor powered by nature.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Taking language barriers out of the equation
Luxembourg nationals Max Greisen and Véronique Cornu have many things in common: They are both educated in the field of psychology, they are both PhD researchers at the University of Luxembourg – and they both work with language-free approaches to early mathematical development of multilingual children. Max develops and implements animations that help assess early numerical competencies, while Véronique develops training methods to help overcome language barriers in early math education.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Multiple nationalities, one goal
What do a French, a Spanish, a Brazilian and an Algerian researcher have in common? In the case of Adeline Boileau, Antonio Salgado Somoza, Clarissa P. C. Gomes and Torkia Lalem, it’s that they are all early-career researchers who came to Luxembourg to join forces in the Cardiovascular Research Unit (CVRU) at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), which aims to identify new personalised strategies to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.
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: 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: Understanding how language manifests in the brain
At KU Leuven, Luxembourg national Jill Kries is part of a research team driven by understanding how cognition and brain structure develop over time in language-related disorders and how this knowledge can be applied in a clinical or educational setting. We take a closer look at the work of the young team.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: How is scientific quality fostered by research collaboration?
In the last decades, how research is conducted has been profoundly changed by ICT, and there has also been a shift from the ‘sole genius’ towards teamwork and especially interdisciplinarity: Today, millions of researchers worldwide collaborate across organisational, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries, extending the possibilities of new scientific discovery. This, and the associated data, has paved the way for the scientific field Science of Science, where one key question is understanding exactly how scientific quality is fostered by research collaboration.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Nanotechnology – a future big player in health
Divya Balakrishnan, Dipti Rani and Serena Rollo are women in science working in a field that could have a major impact on how health is managed: In the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow César Pascual García at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), the team works on developing sensors for biochemical applications focusing on medicine.
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: Anna Scaini
Anna Scaini’s appetite for becoming a researcher was stirred at University, stemming from a desire to ‘save’ the last natural river in Europe, which runs close to her home town and causes dangerous local flooding. The Italian national is taking the first step towards pursuing her goal as she prepares to complete her PhD thesis in Hydrology at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Michel Thill
For his part-time AFR PhD in Political Science with Ghent University’s Conflict Research Group, Michel Thill researches a little-studied subject: everyday policing practices and interactions between police and people in Bukavu, a provincial capital in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We spoke to the Luxembourg national about insatiable curiosity being a virtue for researchers; the experiences gained during his PhD; and why his research subject is important.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Anna Monzel
Anna Monzel cites her thirst for new knowledge and discoveries as a key contributor in her choosing to follow the path of science. Drawn to Luxembourg because of its interdisciplinary approach, the German national developed a 3D model of the human midbrain for her PhD at the LCSB at the University of Luxembourg – which earned her a Lush Young Researcher Prize.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Taking disruptions into account in life cycle/sustainability assessment
Global supply networks are more complex than ever, and recent global events have shown how susceptible society is to unpredictable disturbances. Scientists are working to understand the effect disruptions have on the sustainability of productive systems with the goal to provide solutions to support decision-making.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Maxime Brami
Archaeologist and trained anthropologist Maxime Brami works on uncovering the origins and spread of agriculture, and has just landed a sought-after Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. We speak to the Luxembourg national about what it’s like to be an archaeologist in academia, the collaborative nature of the field and why archaeologists have a certain responsibility.
Spotlight on Young Researchers: Paul Johanns
Paul Johanns works in a research field one does not read about every day: knots. As part of his AFR PhD at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Luxembourg national combines high-precision model experiments, computation and theory to untangle the influence of topology on the mechanics of complex knots, particularly those used in surgical procedures.
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: 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.