Denis Allemand will celebrate, in October, a birthday unlike any other: 20 years at the helm of the Scientific Center of Monaco. A look back at a career driven by passion and curiosity.
We meet him in his office at the Monaco Scientific Center. Shirt rolled up, hair graying, he is impressively fluent in speaking – calm, caring and humble. His colleague from the Scientific Center of Monaco (CSM) describes him as ” a pilgrim, he goes to preach knowledge », Alluding to forgotten places where Denis went to give lectures, in front of only a handful of people. A true enthusiast, defined by this bottomless pit that is the thirst for knowledge. And, of course, by the transmission of it.
The Monaco Scientific Center has become what it is thanks to Denis Allemand. Physiologist by training, ” not sailor, but human »He specifies, nothing destined the Monegasque to find himself for twenty years at the helm of the CSM.
Here there was everything to do, it was to start from scratch, it was magnificent
Coral, penguin and DNA
He arrived at the CSM as a researcher 30 years ago and took over 20 years ago to rebuild it from scratch. To do so, Denis and a former colleague launched the first research program on Mediterranean red coral. Because this is the spearhead of the laboratory: the coral. Red first, for which the CSM is famous, then tropical afterwards.
“ Here there was everything to do, it was to start from scratch, it was magnificent Denis remembers. First objective: to expand the ranks. Teams arrive, then students …
This was followed by the creation of the marine biology department, resulting from the coral project, then a polar biology department focused on the study of penguins and a medical biology department (the three pillars of the CSM: the coral , penguin and DNA). A pride, since ” the Center was among the first to be able to carry out PCR tests thanks to an analysis platform here. “
The knowledge that is found in there is knowledge that will last two hundred years; the website on aura more
The CSM is not the only success of Denis Allemand, since he is also a professor at the University of Nice. ” I’m going to retire in a little while »Denis confides to us, and it is one of his former students who takes her place in the laboratory of the University of Nice. ” My scientific heritage is well assured, he said smiling. I’m very happy, it’s great to see students who will end up waiting for you. “
” You know, to be a researcher is to be curious. And I always liked it. Both curiosity and the transmission of knowledge. »Curiosity, knowledge and education. Three major pants of the professor’s personality. And where is the knowledge found? In the books, which Denis has piled up in his office and at home for years. ” I like to read a lot and it is a drama besides because I do not know any more where to put them… “
” I am from an older generation who thinks that books are very important, you can’t find everything on the Internet. The knowledge that is found in there is knowledge that will last two hundred years; the website on the aura more. ” Proof in support, Denis regularly uses in conferences ” a book on red coral dating from 1859. “
A passion for words that he also uses to transmit his own knowledge. Denis Allemand takes very seriously the role of mediation that a researcher must exercise, through a regular exercise of scientific popularization. Latest article for the journal Species: ” Arms, legs and tentacles ”On biodiversity.
Motivated by ” the desire to do things, the desire to create and to know », Denis applies the same pedagogy in everyday life. Outside of science, he reads on ancient zoology, on tourism from the previous century… However, his favorite field is that of vernacular and rock architecture. A passion that comes to him from, you will understand, his curiosity.
” When I was, I wanted to visit a site that was inaccessible but I never got it, and one day a friend got me young there. A medieval construction on a narrow ledge of 20 centimeters with 200 meters of void below, an absolutely fantastic thing. It fascinated me so much that I continued. »Denis then joined forces with an archaeologist friend to publish the study of this type of architecture and already on the subject.
And when we ask him what he does outside of work… “ I work at home We reply with a laugh. ” What is important is to leave a trace for the future, it is not just to do research for the sake of knowledge. This knowledge must be transmitted. “Passion, this border which is blurred between work and leisure, even twenty years later.
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