MSCA Conference speakers - Olivier Dauchot

Olivier Dauchot, is the Director of the CNRS Gulliver laboratory, ESPCI-Paris PSL.

His research focuses on the study of Collective effects in Soft Matter. His general interest is to develop model experiments for studying divided soft-matter and collective effects. Developing collaborations with theoretical teams is one of his hallmarks. He presently concentrates on active matter, programmable matter, and glass forming systems. Previously, Mr. Dauchot was leading the Group Instabilities and Turbulence in CEA-Saclay. At that time he brought significant contributions to the study of jamming and glassy dynamics in granular media, to that of chaotic mixing, as well as to the understanding of transition to turbulence.
He is also leading the outreach activities of the University Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL), what he sees as an essential aspect of research.
In the mid-90ies, he has co-founded Internet-Way, one of the first Internet Access Provider in France, later sold to UUNET-Worldcom.

He will take part in the 2022 MSCA conference, in the third workshop on closing the gap between science and citizens.




A few more words

Olivier Dauchot speaks about his work and his participation in the conference.

Introduce yourself briefly. What are you currently working on?

I am a physicist working in the field of the so-called soft matter, where both quantum and relativistic effects can be safely ignored. Think about all the materials that you encounter in the supermarket: liquids, foams, emulsions, grains etc…

Right-now we are working on experimental models of new materials, some sort of elastic materials, with little engines acting inside the material. These materials are inspired by living systems, like tissues, which on one hand are elastic, and on the other hand contain all an active machinery composed of living cells.   

Because of this activity embedded inside the material, the material exhibits very strange properties. It spontaneously oscillates or deforms. It also has very odd response to external stimuli. All these effects are commonly present in living systems, but not so well understood.
Our research goal is twofold. On one hand by designing model experimental systems, we can better understand new fundamental mechanisms. On the other hand, being inspired by living systems, we can imagine and design new materials, with new interesting properties.

You will participate in the conference as part of the science and society workshop, why does this topic matter to you?

As a researcher, I have been trained to observe the world, to ask myself questions about the way it works, and often to be amazed by its numerous mysteries and beauties. This relation to the world surrounding us is truly a permanent source of joy.

I have participated in many outreach events, and beyond the scientific content of my research, it is this relation to the unknown that I have tried to convey to my audiences. I want to share this ability, which I see as a great privilege.

Should a researcher and expert put himself in the place of the citizen to communicate science? What is your experience about this?

The communication of science itself, should be the result of a joint work between a mediator and the researcher.

As I tried to say in answering the previous question, it is not so much about communicating science, then communicating your feelings for the unknown, the pleasure of the discovery, also how hard it can be sometime. This can only be done by those who experience it.

The communication of science itself, should be the result of a joint work between a mediator and the researcher. The researcher alone may not find the right words or images to illustrate his scientific knowledge. Similarly, the mediator alone may not capture the essence of the scientific result, just by reading the scientific papers. This exchange between the mediator and the researcher, before communicating science is definitely necessary, often very rich, but it takes time, a lot of time …

In your opinion, can science be totally transparent to the public?

Yes definitely. Science itself has nothing to hide. Promising scientific application or making any prediction about the future use of this or that is another story, and certainly is not science anymore.


See also