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Stéphane Bordas listed one of the world’s most influential researchers

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Published on Wednesday, 20 April 2016

How to evaluate more than 2 million reports published each year by almost 9 million researchers in the world? The Thomson Reuters agency takes up the challenge and publishes on a yearly basis a list of the top 3000 highly cited researchers. Stéphane Bordas, Professor and Head of the Strategic Computational Sciences Priority has been selected as one of the world’s most influential scientific minds in the field of computer science in 2015.

An analysis based on peer review

The strategy adopted by Thomson Reuters in order to qualify researcher works is to measure the impact of published papers on the research community. In other words, they pay attention to researchers whose papers are highly cited by their peers. The 2015 ranking takes into account not only the greatest number of highly cited papers over an 11-year period (2003-2013) but also the recent ones (2013-2014) that were cited immediately after publication. In the study, 21 main areas have been identified covering sciences and social sciences. Computer science is one of them with 108 researchers selected in this field. 

Computational Sciences to guide surgeons

Stéphane Bordas, who works within the Institute for Computational Engineering, within the Research Unit in Engineering Sciences (RUES), is focusing on the development of data-driven numerical methods for engineering and medicine. His team, also known as Legato Team is the recipient of a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, where they develop the next generation simulators aiming at helping surgeons train on virtual replicas of their patients, without endangering them. “The major challenge in this field is to provide accurate simulations within a real time constraint”, stresses Stéphane Bordas. He goes on explaining that the beauty of Computational Sciences is that “the main mathematical building blocks can be brought to bear on a wide variety of fields. For example, some of the methods we developed to predict the durability of complex aerospace composites can be used almost directly to model heterogeneous soft tissues under the action of the scalpel of a surgeon”. Including this ERC Grant, the Legato group of Stéphane’s has attracted over 7 million euros worth of funding, of which approximately 10% from the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR-INTER and FNR-AFR schemes).

A multidisciplinary and open research

The Legato Team is composed of mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists and engineers working closely with medical doctors and surgeons. The multi-disciplinary research approach enables the team to combine mathematical skills with computer science tools while taking into account needs and expectations from application scientists. In addition, all the codes developed by the team are released as open source to help share knowledge and participate in the advancement of science. “Our approach is intrinsically collaborative and multidisciplinary. Collaboration and multi-disciplinarity are however not merely buzzwords for us. Without the contribution of our collaborators, and without the enrichment provided by working with researchers and practitioners from different disciplines, it would have been simply impossible to achieve the outcomes we have contributed to our field. This is the spirit of computational sciences, a growing discipline which complements and extends traditional theory and physical experimentation with powerful computer simulations,” adds Professor Bordas.

Team recognition boosts exciting research project

Being selected by the Thomson Reuters as one of the Highly Cited Researchers worldwide is an honour for Stéphane Bordas who has been working in computational sciences since his PhD which started in 1999.”This recognition should not be seen as a personal achievement”, says Stéphane. “I am honoured by the trust that the dozens of colleagues and friends who worked with me over the last 17 years, without whom this accolade would not have been possible.” However, Stéphane reminds us that “citation count is only one, necessarily imperfect indication of the impact of a researcher's work and, as any statistical data, must be taken with caution.” Building on the work his team has done, Stéphane is therefore even more motivated to continue his research activities that excite him more than ever: “The next steps of the Legato team is to develop data-driven modelling and simulations. Our work will extend at the interface between BigData and Modelling, which we believe will be a rich avenue for investigation. It will enable us to select the best models to estimate uncertainties and errors in biomechanics simulations. Intimately connected to mathematics, this topic has been scarcely addressed by the community and could allow, in particular, users of biomechanics simulations to quantify and discriminate between various error sources committed in their simulations. In turn, this could enable medical professionals to confidently use biomechanics tools, thanks to quantifiable error bounds which will increase simulation faithfulness and the confidence that users have in their ability to reproduce reality.”

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Picture © Michel Brumat, University of Luxembourg