The CNRS Office in Washington DC strengthens ties with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

On February 29, the CNRS office in Washington D.C. attended the opening of a photographic exhibition organized by the National program for the urgent aid and reception of scientists in exile (Programme d’Aide à l’Accueil des Scientifiques en Urgence – PAUSE), a program in which the CNRS participates, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). On March 2, the office took part in the MIT European Career Fair alongside the Office for Science and Technology of the French Embassy in the United States. These two different sequences have enabled the CNRS to perpetuate its links with the prestigious American institution[1], located in Cambridge, near Boston in Massachusetts, and to gain visibility with other American universities.

Opening of the exhibition “Standing for freedom, portraits of scientists in exile”, or the ethical imperative of welcoming refugees

The genesis of the “Standing for freedom, portraits of scientists in exile” exhibition
© Erell Gloaguen/CNRS

On Thursday February 29, the Office of the Vice Provost for International Activities and the MIT Center for International Studies organized the American opening of the photographic exhibition “Standing for freedom, portraits of scientists in exile”, featuring portraits of scientists and artists in exile around the world. The exhibition highlights the work of the French organization PAUSE, which enables scientists in exile to travel to France with their families and ensure the continuity of their research work in French higher education and research establishments. The opening of this exhibition was, for MIT, an opportunity to celebrate their new Global MIT At-Risk Fellows Program (GMAF), which enables three Ukrainian academics with varied research work (in global health and informatics, spatial data analysis for urban areas, etc.) to reside at MIT from March 2024 for a full semester. Following its exhibition at MIT, “Standing for freedom, portraits of scientists in exile” will then travel to Washington D.C. to take up residence at the French Embassy in the United States.

At the reception, all those involved in organizing the exhibition made a few opening remarks. These gave guests a better understanding of MIT’s historic involvement in welcoming refugee scientists, and the fundamental role of the PAUSE program in protecting exiled researchers and their families in France. Speakers included MIT provost Cynthia Barnhart, Elizabeth Wood, professor of history and head of the GMAF pilot program, Pascale Laborier, professor of political science at Université Paris Nanterre and curator of the PAUSE exhibition, and Laura Lohéac, executive director of PAUSE.

Suzanne Berger, professor at the MIT Institute, was the master of ceremonies at the inauguration, and thanked all the participants for their presence and the exhibition organizers, as well as the CNRS office in Washington D.C. for facilitating contacts between the French and American parties. Suzanne Berger is the recipient of several prestigious French awards (including the Palmes Académiques, the Ordre National du Mérite and the Légion d’Honneur).

From left to right: Jeanne Revil (project manager at the CNRS office in Washington D.C.), Suzanne Berger, Myriam Zuber (Program Manager MISTI – MIT Global Experiences), Pierre-Jérôme Adjedj, Pascale Laborier, Laura Lohéac, Jean-Philippe Nicolaï (Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Consulate in Boston), Fabien Calvo (Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology at the University of Paris-Diderot), Erell Gloaguen (program manager at the CNRS office in Washington D.C.)
© CNRS

Elizabeth Wood stressed the importance of welcoming and supporting exiled academics, particularly since 2022 and the upsurge in Ukrainian refugees as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Pascale Laborier pointed out that welcoming exiles is an ethical imperative, and that we must continue to support them at every stage of their exile. The political scientist explained that each of the refugees represented in the twelve photos in the exhibition had to bring four categories of symbolic objects to their photo shoot: images representing their country of origin and their host country, personal objects and objects related to their field of research. These objects enabled photographer Pierre-Jérôme Adjedj to capture the experiences of each individual. Finally, Laura Lohéac went back over the history of the Pause program, created in 2017 with the aim of enabling refugee artists and scientists in France to ensure the continuity of their work. She recalled that the Pause program grants funds to host institutions that accommodate refugees, and assists host institutions and refugees in certain administrative aspects. While the program used to work with refugees from some forty different countries, Laura Lohéac says that Pause’s main beneficiaries are now Ukrainians and Russians.

At the MIT European Career Fair, the CNRS reaffirms its interest in talent of diverse nationalities

Stand of the CNRS and the Office for Science and Technology (OST) of the French Embassy in the United States From left to right: Leah Namoune (Administrative and Financial Manager at the OST), Jean-Philippe Nicolaï (Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Consulate in Boston), Mustafa Soykurt (Consul General of France in Boston), Jeanne Revil and Erell Gloaguen (project managers at the CNRS office in Washington D.C.)
© OST of the French Embassy in the United States

On Saturday March 2, the CNRS office, alongside the Office for Science and Technology (OST) of the French Embassy in the United States, took part in MIT’s annual European Career Fair. The fair enables European companies and administrations to present career opportunities in Europe to students from MIT or other nearby universities (such as Harvard, Boston University or New York University), in order to attract the best talent to the Old Continent. With around 100 participating organizations and some 2,000 visitors each year, the MIT show is one of the largest events of its kind in the USA.

The CNRS team in Washington D.C.
© CNRS

This year, over 2,700 students from the region’s most prestigious American universities attended the fair. More than a hundred of them visited the OST and the CNRS stand, to find out more about the research organization’s external competitions for researchers, as well as the various other entry points, such as the tenure tracks positions or internships and mobility opportunities in French laboratories. The extended eligibility criteria for joining the CNRS, which do not discriminate on the basis of nationality or age, aroused keen interest among students.


[1] MIT is an important partner for the CNRS: the research organization’s seventh-largest U.S. partner in terms of number of co-publications from 2021 to 2022, the university participates in a CNRS International Research Network (USERS), in an International Research Project (SlowFaults) and is one of the American partners of the International Research Laboratory CNRS-Georgia Tech.

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