Congratulations to Garance Gourdel, winner of the 2023 L'Oréal-Unesco Young Talent Award for Women in Science

Submitted on 13/10/2023

This year, 35 brilliant young doctoral and post-doctoral researchers from fields as varied as medicine, biology, astronomy and computer science were recognised for the excellence of their careers by the l'Oréal Foundation, in partnership with the Académie des Sciences and the French National Commission for UNESCO.

Brilliant, committed young researchers

Like many women in science, Garance has been faced with challenges that sometimes hinder their scientific careers. Just look at her career path, where the under-representation of girls is glaring. After a preparatory class in mathematics, Garance entered the ENS Paris Saclay, where there were only two girls among 30 students. Being so under-represented but so visible, it's hard to get past gender prejudice, sexist remarks and, for some, even harassment! But Garance's commitment was unwavering.

So you're committed? Garance is!
Since 2017, she has been actively involved in the "Girls can code," programme, which offers free computer training courses to secondary school girls. Her application for the Prix Jeunes Talents is a continuation of her commitment to giving visibility to and promoting women in science.  An amusing anecdote: her mother, who was pregnant with Garance at the time, was awarded the Bettencourt prize for young researchers in 1996!

A prize to highlight his research work

This prize highlights the research work of Garance Gourdel, a doctoral student in the Genscale team at IRISA and the École Normale Supérieure, who will be defending her thesis on 26 October at ENS Paris.

Her research focuses on the use of algorithms to improve DNA reading, creating and analysing new algorithms for processing and storing large volumes of data, such as that generated by sequencing.
When Garance is asked to explain her research work, she likes to compare algorithms to a recipe: a process that has to be constantly adapted, respecting the order and variation of the input data (the ingredients) to obtain the desired result. These are the instructions that she transmits to the computer, explaining how to repeat them and giving a theoretical estimate of how long it will take to execute, taking into account ever larger data sets and using as little memory as possible.

Recognition, honour and resources.

"First of all, it's an honour, but it's also an opportunity to benefit from a training programme, such as the development of negotiation and management skills, to help us promote our research work and give visibility to women in the scientific field. Through this prize, I have met other women who share similar issues and difficulties".

Garance wants to continue its mission of informing and training young girls in computer science. It has already announced that part of its endowment will be used to introduce young girls to computer programming.

When asked what advice she would give to young girls hesitating to embark on a career in science, her answer is clear

"Don't hesitate! Go for it! There are still too many of us who don't
fear of failing, when in reality we have the ability!