Portrait | International

They make the Université de Lyon: meet Gérard Chuzel

On The October 1, 2020

Alliance Brazil

The Université de Lyon met with Gérard Chuzel, who has been representing the UdL in Brazil since early 2020, to talk about his career and his daily responsibilities.

What are your daily tasks as a UdL representative in Brazil? What does the representative office mean to you?

My main tasks include monitoring current and future projects related to the UdL’s International Office, identifying opportunities for new collaborations and helping to implement them, and assisting Brazilian students with their international mobility projects. The representative office is the main facilitator and interface between Brazilian and French initiatives. It reflects the UdL’s commitment in Brazil, which is recognized by French authorities, funding agencies and the entire Brazilian scientific and academic community.

Why did you join the Université de Lyon?

As a Scientific and Technological Attaché in Sao Paulo from 2011 to 2016, I had the opportunity to get involved with several Université de Lyon initiatives, to facilitate agreement negotiations, mainly with the USP, and to learn more about the International Alliance’s ambitions in Brazil. I viewed joining this initiative with financial support from IDEXLYON as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It has enabled me to learn more about Brazil's scientific, institutional and economic environment and to contribute to strengthening French-Brazilian relations, which is something I am very passionate about.

What have been the highlights of your career?

With a degree in Bridges, Water and Forestry Engineering, I have always been particularly interested in research, innovation and international affairs. This has led me to alternate between working in France, Colombia and Brazil. While in France, I worked in research management and held various scientific and managerial positions in research organizations such as the CIRAD, the Cemagref (IRSTEA) and its Institut Carnot. I have also been involved in long-term missions for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (4 years in Colombia and 11 years in Brazil). Finally, I represented the ParisTech network of engineering schools in Brazil from 2017 to 2019.

Which Brazilian scientific assets should be highlighted within the International Alliance?

Brazil made significant investments in higher education and research in the early 2000s, which earned it recognition from the international scientific community (ranked 13th globally in terms of publications). Today, it is still able to provide competent human resources and access to efficient research facilities, but there is a great difference between the State of São Paulo (accounting for 42% of publications, half of which come from the USP alone) and the rest of Brazil. The strategic partnership established with the USP, with support from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), guarantees the sustainability of the many collaborations already in place.

What are the International Alliance’s main ambitions for Brazil?

With the USP and FAPESP joint calls for projects launched in 2019 and 2020, which focus on the three major scientific research areas led by IDEXLYON (“Biohealth and Society”, “Science and Engineering” and “Humanities and Urbanity”), developing existing efforts and building on the results obtained from various members of the Brazilian ecosystem is an essential step in establishing the UdL as a key player in their internationalization strategy. This constructive partnership means that our partners will naturally give priority to funding the UdL, though their funding has been greatly affected by the pandemic. As Brazil gradually resumes its activities, strengthening collaborations with other universities of excellence and forging closer ties with the socio-economic sector, particularly French companies, are two of the most important projects for the coming months.