Clémence Corminboeuf


Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne

Situation professionnelle en 2019

"I'm passionate about learning and discovering new things every day. There’s very little routine in research."

My career path

I’m an associate professor and head of the Laboratory of Computational Molecular Design. I’m in charge of a quantum chemistry research programme, which involves recruiting and training future PhD students. For my research, I develop theoretical models, which I then use to discover new molecules, such as catalysts that can speed up chemical reactions, and new materials, such as plastics that can conduct electricity. I do this with the help of a supercomputer. I also teach an introduction to quantum chemistry course at the bachelor’s level and a master’s course relating to my research.

I’m passionate about learning and discovering new things every day. There’s very little routine in research. And I also like inspiring and training the next generation of researchers, and discovering things that can have an impact on society.

My career path. I got where I am through a lot of hard work, but also because I believed in myself. And I certainly got lucky as well. You have to be in the right place at the right time. Key people in my career include my mentors in the United States, Germany and Switzerland, and my husband, who supported my career by ‛sacrificing’ his own. Research requires teamwork, and I also owe a lot to all the lab teams I’ve worked with. And also to my parents, especially during my studies.

A downside or obstacle ? There’s a lot of pressure, and a lot of challenges. I don’t have any hobbies, just work. My career requires a lot of sacrifices in terms of where you live, and it’s not easy to combine this kind of work with family life. On top of that, there are very few women – and especially very few mothers – in my field.

I’m proud that I’ve been able to have a scientific career at a high international level, and that I’ve gained recognition in my field. My strengths are my ambition and my ability to regularly challenge myself.

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

La science, et sa promotion auprès des filles.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Les leaders qui restent humbles (par ex. Jacques Dubochet, René Prêtre, Simone Veil).

Un livre & un film

Tous les ouvrages de Joël Dicker (nous avons obtenu notre maturité dans le même collège) et depuis quelques années Harry Potter et La reine des neiges s’imposent…

Un modèle

J’ai principalement été formée par des hommes qui n’avaient pas d’enfants à leur charge. Ils ont certainement été une source d’inspiration et d’un grand support mais leur carrière ne ressemble pas à la mienne.

Un objet

Le Cervin (sous toutes ses représentations).

Une couleur

Le violet

Un rêve

Que l’EPFL soit prochainement dirigée par une femme.