Meet Esther Galbrun
Researcher Esther Galbrun (CR2) joined the ORPAILLEUR project team in October 2015.
Esther, what is your background?
I am an engineer with INSA in Rouen and my academic career has led me to specialise in data analysis. In my final year of Engineering School, I had the opportunity of being able to spend six months at the University of Tampere. Finland was a revelation and I liked the country so much that I decided to stay on and do my graduation internship at the University of Helsinki.
Did you go on to complete a thesis?
Yes, I did. During that time, I discovered that a doctorate in Finland was much freer than in France. In my opinion, a PhD thesis in Finland is more like a orienteering course where they tell the students, “Go ahead and search, and come back when you find something!”, Whereas in the French system the path is more of a straight line. I chose to do my thesis in the field of data mining, which is an important subject at Helsinki; more precisely, I decided to work on redescription mining. It’s about finding different ways of describing the same thing. For example, we can describe the regions of Europe by their climate, or in terms of the animals that live there. The research scientists that I worked with during my thesis had close contacts with the United States, which led to me being able to continue my scientific career in Boston, Massachusetts.
What did you do in Boston?
I started my post-doctoral research at the University of Boston. I stayed there for just over a year. There was snow and the seaside like before, but with more sunshine... Over there, I continued my work on data mining but the subject was more general, for example supplying recommendations for data paths in respect of the risk of criminality. I also taught. That was a rewarding experience but it wasn’t always easy, because I was in charge of a course in an academic system that was unfamiliar to me. The course was an introduction to probability, and I was assisted by two PhD students, one supervising student assignments while the other marked them, with the latter being anonymous as far as the students concerned. Towards the end of this post-doctoral period, I started to prepare my files for competitive research examinations.
Is that how you came to join Inria?
That’s right. I had already met Chedy Raïssi during the KDD conference in August 2012 and my principal partner works at the Max Planck Institute at Saarbrucken. I sat the examination in the spring and I had the good fortune to be selected. I am part of the Orpailleur team, working with researchers like Amedeo Napoli, Yannick Toussaint, Chedy Raïssi and Miguel Couceiro. I will be looking at graph mining, working on the OrphaMine platform, interactive systems and visualisation among other things.