Interdisciplinarity rewarded

There were some 40 candidates, but only 6 winners. The winners of the doctoral college's interdisciplinary thesis prize were announced on April 20 and 22. The prize rewards singular research work, distinguished by its scope beyond a single discipline, its originality and often by its societal dimension. The awards will be presented on Monday, July 11, following the doctoral graduation ceremony.

" The world in which we live is complex, and the issues we face are just as complex in terms of climate, politics, sociology and ecology; we therefore need approaches that combine several disciplines to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow ", explains Gilles Subra. To highlight this decompartmentalized vision of research, the director of UM's doctoral college has decided to reward thesis work that has an impact beyond its disciplines. " Also because it's very difficult to compare theses in disciplines that are sometimes very far apart. We therefore decided to reward a thesis in which the doctoral student has gone beyond his or her reference discipline ", adds Gilles Subra.

This unique approach is in line with the UM's ongoing efforts to promote interdisciplinarity: " In particular, we are joining the IDIL master master's programs, in which students can be introduced to the disciplines of other courses, enabling us to establish a strong link between the master's degree and the doctorate ", emphasizes the director of the doctoral college.

Call for applications

But how do you identify these multi-disciplinary theses from among all the theses conducted at the university? " We put out a call for applications to the 2020 and 2021 PhDs, and in all, some forty doctoral students applied. Each application was then evaluated by all the doctoral schools associated with the UM doctoral college, which shortlisted them on three criteria: the quality of the thesis, its interdisciplinary nature and a short video produced by the candidates.

For each class, 6 candidates were selected to take part in the finals. The tie-breaker was a 5-minute oral presentation before a jury of 6 people from different disciplines. " With continuity in transdisciplinarity, since among the members of the jury were guest researchers from the MAK'IT ". Researchers from different disciplines and geographical horizons who come to Montpellier for a residency to carry out transdisciplinary work.

The jury's mission: "to evaluate the interdisciplinary nature of their thesis and determine to what extent their research is innovative in this interdisciplinarity ", comments Gilles Subra. " For example, one of the theses auditioned looked at consent gathering by combining cognitive sciences and law, and that's something new ".

Societal impact

This type of research "brings university and society closer together, giving meaning to the role of the researcher in the midst of citizens who need to understand what research is used for, in order to better appropriate it". This type of research " brings university and society closer together, giving meaning to the role of the researcher in the midst of citizens who need to understand what research is used for, in order to make it their own ", a fact that clearly appeals to both male and female candidates.

" I would like to congratulate all the participants, and especially the six winners. This competition helps to promote interdisciplinarity in all the scientific fields covered by the University of Montpellier and its partners in the doctoral college. For the next edition, I strongly encourage potential candidates involved in an interdisciplinary subject to take part," commented Philippe Augé, President of the University of Montpellier.

The interdisciplinary thesis prize will be awarded to each of the 6 winners, with a cash prize of €500. The awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the graduation ceremony for the 2021 PhDs, to be held at the Corum on Monday, July 11, 2022, at the Berlioz opera house. Prizes will be awarded from 7:00 pm in the Jardin des Plantes, at the start of the festive evening following the graduation ceremony.

The 6 winning projects for the 2020 and 2021 editions of the interdisciplinary thesis prize

Following the auditions held on April 20, 2022, the jury selected 2 winners and 1 runner-up for the class of 2020:

  • Valérie Derolez, GAIA Doctoral School: Dynamic and integrated approach to the assessment of a coastal socio-ecosystem. Application to the Thau lagoon, its ecological status and ecosystem service bouquets over the period 1970-2018.
  • Dimitri Justeau-Allaire, GAIA Doctoral School: Constraint-based systematic conservation planning, a generic and expressive approach: application to decision support for forest conservation in New Caledonia.
  • Noémie Petit Jean, CB2S Doctoral School: New fluidic device for the stimulation and biomechanical characterization of microspheres: proof of concept and application to cartilage micropellets.

Following the auditions held on April 22, 2022, the jury selected 1 winner and 2 runners-up for the class of 2021:

  • Gwenaelle Donadieu, DSP Doctoral School: Cognitive business practices.
  • Thomas Brossier, SCB Doctoral School: Multifunctional stereo lithography hydrogels for tissue reconstruction.
  • Valentin Falvier, I2S Doctoral School: Customizable and printable 3D model for simulation and planning of endonasal skull base surgery.