Careers at Inria - Interview
Andrea Rau : "I am surrounded by passionate and very helpful people who share their knowledge and experience"
Originally from America, Andrea Rau has managed to combine her passions for French and applied statistics by doing a post-doctoral research visit in Inria’s SELECT research team. From North Dakota to the Inria Saclay - Ile-de-France research centre, she spoke to us about her background, her motivation and her career prospects.
Can you tell us about your background prior to starting your post-doctoral research visit at Inria?
I have always loved French. I first studied it at high school and subsequently honed my skills during a six-month stay in Rennes. I first got interested in applied statistics while studying mathematics at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota. I discovered that working in this discipline meant studying problems that have a considerable impact on day-to-day life. I wanted to study statistics in more depth, specifically genome statistics, so I did a PhD at Purdue University, Indiana. During my PhD1, I did two six-month placements at the Joint Research Unit for Animal Genetics and Integrative Biology at INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) in Jouy-en-Josas. These placements allowed me to find out about French and American research at the same time. It was also during this period that I met a number of French statisticians, including the two people who are currently supervising me at Saclay2, because I was intending to do my post-doc in France.
What have been your first impressions since arriving at Inria?
I’ve only been at Saclay for 3 months, but it’s already been a very positive experience. I have been warmly welcomed by my supervisors and the other members of the team. I am surrounded by passionate and very helpful people who share their knowledge and experience. I also really appreciate the fact that I have had real autonomy since I started, because it is important to be able to find your bearings in research. This research visit at Inria is an opportunity for me to deepen my knowledge of French research. It may be a stereotype, but in France great importance is attached to personal life in general, and there is a good work-life balance, which I really appreciate.
Where do you see your career going after this post-doc?
I’m only supposed to be here for a year, but I might get an extension and stay for a second year. My post-doctoral research at Inria will allow me to acquire new knowledge about statistical methods and work on a problem that is interesting from the point of view not only of biology, but also of computer science and statistics. This research visit at Inria is also an opportunity for me to work with high-quality scientists from different organisations, such as INRA and AgroParisTech. Finally, working in the SELECT research team every day is preparing me for my future career, as I am planning to work in France… My husband is French, which is an important factor!