Projects to foster interdisciplinarity

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Following a call for tenders, nine interdisciplinary projects were submitted to a panel of judges, made up of external scientific experts. Initially, five of the projects will be awarded seed funding. The InterD-MN venture will also be granted public participatory funding.

Strengthening the ties between different departments, generating work that brings together different areas : interdisciplinarity is strongly established at Mines Nantes. "Within the school there is a wide range of skills, concentrated within a limited area.  Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, human and social sciences ... intersect and interact. It's a great opportunity for developing research,” according to Eric Humler, project manager and head of research at the school.

So last autumn Mines Nantes decided to encourage collaboration between different disciplines in-house, by calling for new interdisciplinary projects (InterD-MN). The idea being to provide financial support for the most interesting projects, in order to get them up and running. "It was actually an 'open' call to tender, explained Eric Humler. We didn't asked the teams to work on a particular theme, but rather to suggest subjects on which they wanted to work." An unusual approach, which did suprise some people... One requirement : that the projects should  associate several departments within the school or outside.

In total, nine projects were short-listed, very diverse, all interesting, some of them surprising. "These are high-quality projects, sometimes very ambitious, observed Eric Humler. The projects are submitted to a panel of judges made up of well-known scientific experts, all from outside the school : a member of the Academy of sciences, a teacher from the Collège de France, the head of the Natural History Museum , an ex-head of research from the CNRS, the "boss" of the National Institute of Sciences of the Universe at the CNRS...

The panel finally selected five projects. Three of them will receive initial funding of approximately 30,000 euros, in the form of seed funding, over a year. Two others will receive a grant of 10,000 euros. For the second stage, the project leaders will have to organise a workshop, in order to conduct an inventory of their teams' strengths, and to present their projects to get funding for the next year or two years, of around 100,000 euros per year.

Another original aspect of the venture : for the second stage, the InterD-MN projects could be granted participative funding, using  Mines Nantes endowment funds. Funding from public and industrial partners of the school (interdisciplinary programme at the CNRS, Région Pays de la Loire...) will also be sought.


The five prize-winning projects

Three of the projects presented to the panel of experts for operation InterD-MN will receive funding of approximately 30,000 euros, in the early stages :


- PISE or the future of nuclear power

The "Interdisciplinary Programme on Electronuclear Scenarios" is designed to analyse different technological and economic ideas that could be used in the nuclear cycle. This means taking into account  the numerous incertitudes concerning the outcome of different types of energy, depending on different parameters (known resources,  technological progress, geopolitical factors...). PISE will call on teams from a number of disciplines (nuclear technology, production, systems, economy, sociology...). The project is being run by the SUBATECH  laboratory, the social sciences and management department of the school, and a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, in the USA. It will receive initial funding of 30,000 euros.

The presentation pitch


- Licorne : understanding lightning

The Licorne project was set up to study cloud to ground and cloud to cloud lightning bolts. The project is particularly interested in finding out what sets off these phenomena, and the role played by cosmic rays for example. This is a subject which receives little coverage in scientific literature. The first stage of the project focuses on a study of the correlation between air showers and lightning bolts. Licorne is presented under the auspices of the SUBATECH laboratory, in conjunction with research scientists in a number of different national laboratories. In the initial stage, it will receive funding of 27,500 euros.

The pitch


- MISS (MIcro Structure Study) : fluid behaviour in porous media

The MISS project is a study on microstructures. Involved in a large number of natural and industrial processes, they give rise to heat transfer and/or chemical exchanges, and are subject to complex fluid movement – depending on a number of parameters (porosity, cracking, media viscosity...). The study will use efficient methods of characterisation and modelling. Characterisation of the materials could result in important applications in a number of different areas. This project, is being run by the energy systems and environment department and the SUBATECH laboratory of the school, will receive funding of 30,000 euros.

The pitch


Two other projects will be awarded funds of 10,000 euros :

- Petroplast is working on ways of recycling and recovering plastic waste found drifting in the oceans, in order to get oil products. A large-scale undertaking, which will reach out to other disciplines. For the moment, it is bringing together the energy systems and environment department and the logistics and production systems team at Mines Nantes.

The pitch


- MOTU for "Morphogenesis of uranium mining sites". The aim of the project is to model the way the inhabitants of areas where uranium occurs naturally, organise their past history in relation to these deposits, how they manage waste rock and uranium waste at the present time, and protection issues in the future. This project will contribute to the development of a model providing a greater understanding of these territories. MOTU is the fruit of a collaboration between the SUBATECH laboratory and the social sciences and management department at Mines Nantes.

The pitch

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