Anne-Pascale Richardson (PhD Biology, 2009)
Program Manager, AquaHacking
“... It’s something that has continued to serve me as I’ve developed and grown in a variety of work environments. It allows you to think outside the box, innovate in your field, and help others progress in their own fields.”
Anne-Pascale Richardson sort of happened upon the Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie Research Centre biology program while browsing for a place to get her PhD. Without hesitating, she says she picked INRS first and foremost because she’d always been interested in living in Quebec, and doing her PhD in the francophone province was her chance. “I sent in my application from home in France and got accepted soon after. My PhD at INRS was my gateway to Quebec, and it gave me the opportunity to settle and live here.”
In her time at INRS, she quickly realized that although it is a renowned institution where students are pushed to excel, the lofty path of university research is not the only road to a professional career. For Anne-Pascale, this was an extremely important lesson because “when you finish your studies, especially a PhD, it’s easy to feel like there’s only one option open to you: be a professor.” But she says that INRS actually opens up all sorts of possibilities. “We’re trained to push research to new levels of excellence, but it also opens doors to other things, and that’s fantastic.”
While at INRS, she was very involved in extracurricular activities and she encourages students to get involved as soon as possible. “Don’t be afraid to work with experts from a different field. Multidisciplinary collaboration is what drives us to innovate. I was very fortunate to work with a multidisciplinary research group. It’s something that has continued to serve me as I’ve developed and grown in a variety of work environments. It allows you to think outside the box, innovate in your field, and help others progress in their own fields.”
For Anne-Pascale Richardson, there’s a great ecosystem in place around INRS. The institution gives students the tools not only to do basic research, but applied research as well. She firmly believes that “centres of excellence like INRS’s are vital for scientific research.” She sees science as essential for advancing society and finding new solutions to the issues we continue to grapple with or that are evolving as new situations come to light, such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
After eight years in the pharmaceutical and biofood sector, some five years ago Anne-Pascale joined the nonprofit organization Aqua Forum as manager of the AquaHacking program. AquaHacking is a tech competition that engages university students to develop innovative solutions and entrepreneurial skills to help solve freshwater issues and contribute to sustainable water management in North America. She is particularly proud that a number of INRS students have taken part in the challenge, and some have even won it and gone on to become important figures in the water sector.
Throughout her career, Anne-Pascale has shown how INRS opens the door to infinite possibilities.
Anne-Pascale Richardson is a member of the INRS Foundation Board of Directors.