After a three-month selection process, we are very pleased to announce that the French engineer and scholar Jacques Fattaccioli has been appointed EELISA Dean of Studies. Jacques was an associate professor in chemistry at Sorbonne Université, and worked as researcher at the Department of Chemistry of Ecole Normale Supérieure (PSL University) and the InstitutPierre-Gilles de Gennes. He holds an ESPCI Engineering Degree and a PhD inPhysical-Chemistry. He is also a committed scholar that aims to provide students, and society, a high quality education with a humanistic approach as the landmark of a modern European higher education system.
Q: Jacques, what led you to apply forthis position and join EELISA?
A: I was appealed by the community and challenge based approach of EELISA that will prompt students to evolve in an integrated intellectual environment. I feel that giving future students the opportunity to think at the European level is crucial. Europe and the world should be the horizon of all our higher education systems. How can we prepare next generations to think globally? How can we help them have values rooted in the European DNA? These are also questions I am willing to work on.
Q: You have been part of the Laboratory for Integrated Micro-Mechatronic Systems (Institute of IndustrialScience) of the University of Tokyo, where you became head of the IPGG Microfluidics program in 2018. How this experience has influenced your concept of international education?
A: Each educational system has its strengths and weaknesses, and I am convinced that we can built new curricula and new degrees by taking the best of each EELISA partner. The whole will be larger that the sum of its parts: it will be beneficial to students, researchers and society. COVID 19 showed us that online learning is possible and that mobility can be physical but also virtual. So that, an ¨European campus¨ is not a dream anymore, but a reality!
Q: You are an expert in complex media formulation and microfluidics at the interface with biology. How can this field of expertise be linked to a humanistic approach to STEM education?
A: Working at the interface of engineering, physics, chemistry and biology is a challenge, from the scientific point of view, but also on a communication level. All these disciplines have their own words, way of thinking and working habits. A single word can have several meanings and the value of a concept can also be very different from one field to another. I believe that a humanistic approach for STEM education means to provide all the students this kind of interdisciplinary starting package from a young age. That is allowing them to build their own specialization while taking into account a broader context involving complementary STEM and HSS fields. The Vitruvian Man, rooted in EuropeanRenaissance, still remains a powerful symbol of what the higher educational system can achieve.
Q: Finally, how do you envision your role as the Dean of Studies for EELISA?
A: As Dean of Studies my responsibility is to ensure the highest quality of the academic and research activities offered to EELISA students, as well as their alignment with EELISA’s mission and vision. I am also in charge of the scalability of the actions we undertake while making sure that students are at the center of all the work that is done. More importantly, I am committed to the inclusion of all EELISA students, no matter their background, gender or disabilities.