“I’m delighted to receive this award, an acknowledgement of my academic career by the institution where it began, where I was offered solid research training and a window to the world.”
Ms Claudie Beaulieu (PhD Water Science, 2009)
Assistant Professor, Ocean Sciences Department, University of California Santa Cruz
What brought you to INRS for your studies?
I was a statistics undergraduate at Université Laval and I wanted a research project in which I could use statistics to improve the environment, so I joined Prof. Ouarda’s research team. I started as a summer intern before going on to do my masters and PhD. The financial support offered at INRS helped guide my decision, since it promised me stability.
What was your experience like at INRS when you studied here?
When I started graduate school, everything was different from anything I had known before. I was suddenly surrounded by professors and researchers who generously took time to talk science and give advice. I found myself in a multicultural environment where I could interact and work with people from all over. It was a rewarding time in both scientific and personal terms.
Do you have a favourite memory of your campus?
Quebec City and Saint Roch occupy a special place in my heart. I have lovely memories of time spent in Saint Roch Park in both summer and winter. It was great to be near the neighbourhood restaurants and cafes.
What is an important lesson you learned during your time at INRS?
It wasn’t so much a lesson as a feeling of emancipation, the freedom to take control of my career. I recall conversations with Taha Ouarda, my thesis adviser, who kept telling me to aim high, to shoot for the moon so that, if I missed, I would land among the stars. Looking back, that advice had a great impact on my career.
Can you tell us about your career path from graduation to present?
I later pursued studies in the U.K. and the U.S. I spent five years at Princeton in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program on Jorge Sarmiento’s team as a postdoc and research assistant. I then worked on matters that differed markedly from my PhD research, so that was a huge change, but I was determined to expand my scientific knowledge and horizons, and I was given the freedom to explore. Later I moved to England where I spent five years as a lecturer at the University of Southampton. While there, I was able to pursue research interests I had developed at Princeton. Afterwards, I came back to the United States to take a faculty position in the Ocean Sciences Department at the University of California at Santa Cruz. I started a climate and ocean data science research group there focusing on forecasting and understanding climate variability and change. My group recently started examining extreme ocean events using approaches such as statistical hydrology. My career has come full circle with my departure to INRS.
How did your time at INRS prepare you for your career?
My studies at INRS prepared me in several ways, but I think what helped me most was to have published my work in scientific journals early in my academic career.
What advice would you like to give to current students?
Science is for everyone, and everyone deserves to be included. Take time to build relationships with professors, researchers, and other students. These relationships will help you throughout your career. Today’s classmates are tomorrow’s colleagues, so help each other when you can.
What are you hoping for in the future?
I hope for radical change in the fight against climate change so I can leave a healthy and habitable planet to my son and future generations. I analyze plenty of climate data, and I’m worried. I’ve gotten even more worried since I moved to California with my family since we really feel the effects of climate change here. I see youth who rally against climate change and that inspires me. My son is three and he has already been out demonstrating!