I was born in Britanny, a celtic region of France, linguistically close to Wales, which was independent until 1532.
To find Britanny: go to Paris then head West until you hit the atlantic
ocean. Here you are. You should find yourself in front of something
like the photo on the right...
... unless it is the winter, in which case you might just get wet and salty.
If you'd like to find more pictures of Britanny, I find the website of Denis Le Gourrierec quite nice.
What I will always keep from Brittany: my passion for the ocean, including sailing and seafood.
I grew up and studied mostly in France. At the end of
high-school, I decided I wanted to teach. : Educating young minds
appeared to me as a way to contribute to make this world a
better place without losing my soul in political
I began with studying Math and Physics.
When I got frustrated enough with Math and Physics, I turned to Philosophy.
When I realized that I was missing the sciences, I got interested in Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Physics.
I was able to broaden and satisfy my intellectual curiosity and to
pursue my studies up to the doctoral level thanks to the Ecole Normale
Superieure, a remnant of the French Revolution, during which people had
understood how important it is to give a chance to every kid in a
nation to get a high quality education. On the left, you can see the ``Cour aux Ernests", a peaceful
place in the middle of the 5th arrondissement in Paris -- 200 meters
from the Pantheon. The ``Ernests" is how we call the fish in the pond. I entered the ENS in 1997, and discovered there, under the
gentle but significant influence of a few professors, that I could hope
to devote my life to research. I pursued my studies in Philosophy at the undergraduate and
graduate levels in various universities in Paris (according to where I
thought the best professors were) up to the DEA (eq. to ABD), which I
received from the Sorbonne.
I also prepared and passed the agregation, which guarantees that I know enough about the history of philosophy to teach any of it at the undergraduate level.
Finally, I discovered Paris. I hated it at first, mostly because
one can never see the horizon there. That said, I changed my mind
as soon as I got out of the 5th arrondissement: I lived in the East
part of the 17th., one of the most cheerfully mixed neighborhoods I've
Thanks to an agreement between the ENS and Princeton University, I
spent a year in Princeton, where I worked under the supervision of
Bas van Fraassen.
A lot of things happened to me during that year:
- I fell in love with New York;
- I fell in love with rock climbing;
- I discovered a way of doing philosophy involving
creativity, analytic rigor, congeniality and constructive interactions:
I definitely converted to the analytic tradition.
I also discovered there that you can have dinner in a Gothic Cathedral...
Back from Princeton, I started to work on my dissertation in one of
the most important centers for analytic philosophy and philosophy of
science in France: the Archives Poincare in Nancy.
To find Nancy: go to Paris (or start from Britanny where I left you earlier), head East until you hit Germany. Here you are.
As you can see on the left, significant parts of Nancy survived the war.
Thanks to my advisor, Prof. Gerhard Heinzmann, an agreement was
created between the University of Nancy and the University of
Bielefeld, so that I could pursue a Ph.D. program in both
Universities. Thanks to this joint program, I could apply for and obtain a
grant from the European Union for traveling and studying abroad. I thus
started to go to International Conferences, in order to keep in touch
with the parts of the world in which philosophy is still truly alive.
I was still living most of the time in Paris where:
No need to mention, I love Paris. Some of my favorite things there?
To sit at a terrace sipping an espresso and watching people, to go to
the fresh market on Sunday morning, and to see the people dancing on
the river banks every night, from tango to hip hop, as soon as the
Spring has won over the Winter.
- I went back to school, at the University of Jussieu in order to
get a Licence (eq. BA) in Fundamental Physics -- something I deem
essential to doing philosophy of physics;
- I met and start working with Guido Bacciagaluppi, who,
during the too short time he spent in IHPST, organized a challenging
and exciting seminar, a true ``annus mirabilis" for Philosophy of
Physics in France.
I gladly became his first graduate student.
As part of the agreement for my joint-thesis, I spent a year in Bielefeld.
The town is not so pretty, because it was destroyed during the
war. That said, I can guarantee that there is a reason why romanticism
was successful in Germany: the winter in the forest is something
special. ``Schnee, Schnee, Weisser Schnee..." The photo on the left
should give you an idea.
On another note, the conditions for research in Bielefeld were very nice: the library, the ZIF ...
Finally, it is also in Germany that I got to know the one who was to become my husband.
From Germany, I leaped to Chicago, where, thanks to the Sawyier
Fellowship, I have had the wonderful support to
finish my dissertation while getting some experience in teaching in the
U.S. I have to admit, I fell in love with Chicago even more than I
did with New York: the lake, the free pleasure given by the
architecture, the vividness of the public life, and the quality
and affordability of the cultural life.
If it was not so segregated, I would consider this city as one of the most pleasant I have known.
While I have been in Chicago, the one who was to become my husband
has been in Missoula, Montana, a very nice place in the Rockies.
So, I got a chance to discover the western United States which I dreamed about when I was a little girl.
There I have seen impressive mountains and never ending plains, and I
found myself pondering "the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake".
In short, I saw there the most beautiful things I have ever
We got married in Missoula, and we got jobs at the University of Montana together. Life was getting pretty good...
And then she was born. She transformed our lives in many ways, and it is not always easy. It is worth it a million times though: our daughter cheers me up every night when I come back from work; she makes me laugh as nobody else does. To see her grow has simply been the most wonderful experience I have ever had.