Physician Sophie D’Ambrosio, Chief Scientist Officer of Digital For the Planet
1. Dear Sophie, you are a woman of science and technology. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
I am Sophie D’Ambrosio and I am 32 years old. I am originally from Marseille; I was born there, I grew up and I did all my studies there up to my PhD in Materials Physics. Then, I spent 3 years abroad : one year and a half in Japan, and on year and a half in Ecole Normale Superieure of Pisa.
“Few people know that Napoleon built this school during his conquest of Europe. He already build ENS in Paris already and only founded a new one, in Italy. So you have Normale Sup only in France and Italy. It is actually a very marvellous historical place to go, in an architecture way ! When you go to Pise, you should visit it.”
I went back in France in December 2017 and actually working Unité Mixte CNRS-Thalès in Ile-de-France. My field in research is about micro and nano technologies and specifically about “condensed matter physics”, it means all solid materials.
2. You have a deep interest in both sustainability and technology and recently you received an amazing distinction for your work. Can you tell us about you last works and this great adventure?
Recently, I’ve got the chance to win the L’Oréal-Unesco 2018 for Women In Science. This distinction rewarded me for my current research which is about how to make sustainable the super-calculators to come. The goal is to drastically decrease their consumption of energy by dividing this consumption by ten thousands. Thanks to particular materials like the “supra-conductors with high critical temperature”.
For me this prize is a marvelous chance in many aspects. First of all, I have been received money and in the research field, it is key to go on. Secondly, it is very important to have a strong visibility to express myself about the woman place in the society, and in particular in sciences. I think that for a better future we need more women in key areas, including sciences.
“For example, in medecine, we realized that masculine biases led to a misunderstanding of the heart attacks symptoms because men and women don’t have the same way to express this disfunction. That a reason why, for a long time, doctors thought women heart attacks were actually anxiety attacks.”
Innovation and creativity are about differences. You need difference of points of view to create and innovate better. Men and women are not only physically different, they are also emotionally and psychologically different. And this is not a problem, it is a great opportunity. And this is this confrontation that allows novelty to emerge. It is true for gender, but is it also for social or ethnic origins.
3. Digital For The Planet is the first global Earth project fully dedicated to digital ecology and the design of sustainable technological breakthroughs. What is the importance of research and prospective in this fields?
It is key. According to me, science is key for the future of the planet and to face the humanity challenges to come. It is important to understand that science is a tool. This is not good or bad, it is simply a tool. It is depends on us to use it for a better future. We need tools to survive and more tools we will have, the better will be the chance we’ll have to sustain.
For example, today our computers, smartphones, Internet are fundamental in our daily lives, isn’t it? Thanks to this, we can share many things (movies, music, knowledges, thoughts…). For me technology is a chance, for us and our children. But today, we have an issue with the way throw up and recycle or not all our electronic devices. In electronic physics, scientists must find a way to respond correctly and with benevolence to this challenge.
4. You recently have been named Chief Scientist Officer at Digital For The Planet. What would be your role exactly?
“My global mission is to ensure our technologies are as efficient as sustainable, that means they produce as much economical benefits than they consume the least energy possible. It is a very big challenge but as you know, I’ve cracked the thing a little already ! (laughs)”
To do it, I will be piloting the research team for the daily scientific watch, which is crucial to have a constant overview about what we do and in which direction. I will be also working closely with Inès Leonarduzzi and our CTO to accompany the developers team and key partners to make sure of the good conduct of the development. My job is to bring to what we do the “breakthrough” side in terms of sustainability.
5. How did this opportunity come out? Did you know Digital For The Planet before?
Unfortunately, I did not know Digital For The Planet before. By great chance, I have been contacted by Inès Leonarduzzi, the CEO of the initiative, to meet. She explained to me this day her research team told her about me during a morning meeting.
“I have been very surprised to see how close and similar we were in terms of personality and personal story. According to me, it is a key point for a successful collaboration. We went to lunch in her favorite italian restaurant in the 2nd area of Paris and after one hour and a half we were convinced that we could do a lot together for technology and its huge need of sustainability. Life is a great adventure and I hope to share this adventure with Digital For The Planet for a long time.”
6. You are also involved in education, for an inclusive society and equality-oriented. Values that we share in DFP, can you tell us more about it?
For many years, I am involved in gender and social equality matters. During three years, while I was a PhD student in Marseille, I was volunteer in AFEV association to help young people in suburb areas. My role was to give them lessons at home and open their mind. With L’Oréal-Unesco prize is to promote science and gender-equality. For it, I will be going back in suburb areas in Marseille to develop a program in science for young people.
“Being engaged with Digital For The Planet totally fits with my values.”
Inès Leonarduzzi is also a philanthropic person who goes regularly in Ile-de-France in colleges and high-schools in specific needs of education.
7. What are the next steps to come?
I think Inès and I are about to spend long days on the sustainable architecture of our technologies: Plana, our super deep learning solution able to make daily digital uses much less energy-consuming by proposing personalized alternatives and saving recommandations — and a social blockchain solution, able to turn sustainable behaviors into money by tokenization that you can use in the real economy.
“We are currently building a strong team, also visionary and that is not afraid to play it by ear. Then, we’ll have to meet potential investors.”
Inès is very focused on the vision and design of DFP technologies. According to her, they are the materialization of the reason we exist, the answer we want to propose. She also focuses on the financing and open-data access for big corporations that we need, specifically for Plana in the first time.
“With Anthony, the Chief Operating, she works with lawyers and lobbyists in this way (who randomly turn out to be all women!).”
She travels a lot to meet institutions that have the means to help us and collaborates with public institutes on numerical circular economy so we can accelerate the transition regarding soils degradation due to mineral extraction required for technology. The goal is to offer the capacity to build the cleanest high technology ever. We are on it.
My job is to structure our agenda because there is a lot to do, supervise the development et guarantee a full integrity in term of social-focused and sustainable technology. But in general, we work closely and in full cooperation. All points of views are highlighted and I think that is why what we do goes to work.