BACK 08/02/2022

Interview with CoEC Woman in Science Benedicte Cuenot

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, is implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science.

Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity. This day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened. CoEC also joins this wonderful initiative and congratulates all girls and women in science worldwide.

On this occasion, we present a very inspiring female researcher in the CoEC project – Dr. HdR Benedicte Cuenot.

Dr. HdR Benedicte Cuenot obtained her engineering and master’s degree from Ecole Centrale de Paris in 1990. After one year as a research engineer in the University of Boulder (CO, USA), she returned to France, where she defended her Ph.D. in 1995 and HdR in 2000, both in the field of numerical combustion. She is now the leader of the combustion research group at CERFACS, developing advanced and massively parallel software for the numerical simulation (DNS and LES) of turbulent combustion and heat transfer (including thermal radiation) in industrial systems. With these tools, she addresses various topics such as pollutant emissions, ignition and extinction, combustion efficiency or thermal fatigue of combustion chambers. In September 2021, Dr. Cuenot also started as a part-time Professor at the University of Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Dr. Cuenot teaches combustion and fluid mechanics in various universities and has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal papers. She has participated in many collaborative projects at the national and international levels. In addition, she is much experienced in coordinating European projects, financed mainly by the European Commission, where she also acts as an expert evaluator. She has been distinguished as a Fellow of the Combustion Institute in 2018, a member of the Editorial Board of Combustion and Flame since 2018 and a  Program Co-chair of the 39th International Symposium on Combustion to be held in Vancouver, July 2022.


Benedicte Cuenot: Science is a very good choice for young girls

Vhy did you choose to be a scientist? What attracted you to science?

When I was at school, I liked math and physics, but also literature and languages. I found that science was the easiest way for me. That is why I chose mathematics and science.

How would you encourage young girls and women to choose to be researchers and scientists?

I don’t think that science is more difficult than many other jobs. In terms of research – the way is challenging but very rewarding. I found it quite easy to combine with my personal life, thanks to flexibility and autonomy in work. I think it is very appealing for everybody and a very good choice for young girls.

Could we say that science is an inspiration?

Yes! It is an inspiration! Scientific research is very creative and imaginative. Federica (Ferraro) mentioned the innovation. It is very rich in terms of – it’s not only equations – it’s much more than that.

What are the benefits for you – in personal life and society?

For society – scientific research is the basis of technical, scientific progress. In my personal life, based on my own experience, it is really rewarding to meet many different people – all around the world, we travel, and we have a lot of exchanges. It is also a job that you learn to get to the end. It is very rare. There are not many jobs like that. As I already said, I think it is quite compatible with family life. I have three children, and I have never had any experience or difficulties with raising of my children and this job. Although I am deeply involved in my work.

What do you say to young scientists – women, girls?

When you do research, you really act in concrete terms for the progress of society, and this is what I find about one of the most rewarding things in doing research, especially in engineering.