Portraits In the Flow...

Christophe Douady, Main Coordinator of the H2O'Lyon Project

►Who are you and what is your background ?

My name is Christophe Douady, I am a professor at the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and a phylogeneticist by training. My work consists in describing biodiversity and in particular the kinship relationships that exist between all biological species. Today I am director of the Laboratory of Ecology of Natural and Anthropic Hydrosystems whose main objective is to understand the functioning, role and evolution of biodiversity and hydrosystems. My background is largely linked to a high degree of mobility during my initial training (Universities of Tours, La Rochelle, National Museum of Natural History, University of Montpellier, Queen's University Belfast, University of California Riverside, GSK Pennsylvania, Dalhousie University...) which convinced me of the importance of international exchanges in training and research.

► What motivated you to set up the H2O'Lyon project ?

The call for projects for the creation of university research schools stated that it wanted to create French-style graduate schools whose objective would be to strengthen the link between training and research, to enhance the thematic strengths of the establishments and to contribute to the international influence and attractiveness of the country. Because the link between training and research is at the heart of my mission as a teacher-researcher, because the water and watershed science research community in Lyon has been internationally recognized for its multidisciplinary approaches for nearly 40 years, and because my background as well as that of my colleagues demonstrates every day the added value of " pluriculturality ". With the strong support of my colleagues and my institution, I finally and quite logically embarked on this adventure.

► What do you think the co-coordination brings to the project ?

In a completely different context, Mikhail Gorbachev declared that negotiations and collective work are needed to find the realistic balance of interests on which only a solid peace can be based (Madrid Conference 1991). I am firmly convinced that collective work, the confrontation of the diversity of points of view, statutes, missions and genders, is indispensable for balanced governance. At H2O'Lyon, balanced governance and benevolent collegiality do not rhyme with consensus but aim to develop radical cooperation. Cooperation is the richness of the French university system, it is undoubtedly one of the causal factors of its creativity. And it is precisely this creativity that we intend to put at the service of environmental challenges that we can no longer ignore.

► How is the international, transdisciplinary and co-construction aspect articulated with practitioners in H2O'Lyon actions and in the training offer for students ?

Over the last 40 years we have learned to develop interdisciplinary research in the framework of programs co-constructed with practitioners and learned to valorize this work in the best international vectors. The added value, but also the greatest challenge, of the H2O'Lyon Graduate School is therefore to succeed in this hybridization in the training of future professionals, academic or not, in the sector. If in fact an empirical know-how exists in our community to cross internationalization, interdisciplinarity and co-construction, we must now theorize and teach it so that the new generations do not reproduce the path (and mistakes) of their predecessors, but on the contrary, they can *sit on their shoulders.

*Litteraly translated French expression