SCIENCE On a little cloud since the surprise of the Nobel prize received on Wednesday morning, the researcher of strasbourg, Jean-Pierre Sauvage tells the story, between originality, humor and ping-pong…
Jean-Pierre Sauvage is not accustomed to microphones. However, now the Nobel prize for chemistry is going to have to get used to the exercise. Repeating, popularize, his innovative “molecular machines” to, now, the general public. Soon to be 72 years old, the researcher of the locals, did not expect, however, to receive the ultimate reward.
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When he received the call of the institution based in Stockhom on Wednesday morning, Jean-Pierre Sauvage has even thought of a gag ! Hard to believe. But his wife Carmen testifies : “He called me to tell me : “If you’re not sitting, just sit. I had a call from the Nobel committee, but I believe that it is a joke. I’ll call you back if it is not one of them." “
His name on the list, but an announcement is always surprising
This was not, as well as the voices finally recognized at the end of the wire has confirmed. An award (shared with J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa) well-deserved in the eyes of the university of Strasbourg. “When I was a student of biology, I heard them already talking about him,” says Catherine Florentz, vice-president in charge of research.
now professor emeritus, is a small cloud. Ex-director of research at the CNRS (retired since 2009) and member of the Academy of sciences already distinguished, Jean-Pierre Sauvage, however, was on the list for a while. But when her friends talked about it sometimes on the occasion, he preferred to respond with a joke. Dodge classic.
A researcher “original, active, and imaginative”
Yet a true pioneer in the 90′s, the fourth Nobel prize strasbourg plays it humble : “A good chemist knows how to make molecules complicated, but I believe that the originality of our approach is focused on the creation, design, and especially in the synthesis of these engines. “Their first concrete implementation.
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The originality characterizes as well the man, who joined the school of chemistry in the 60′s. Proud former director of thesis in 1971, Jean-Marie Lehn, remembers : “He was already very active and obviously very independent. It is sometimes said that it is chance or a game, but the search is a logical construction, for which it takes imagination. “
The spirit turned to the culture, and in particular the rock
And if the science has been a driver most of his life, the Parisian-born Jean-Pierre Sauvage has nothing to do with autism. The culture has always been plugged in. His wife, Carmen, the balance without hesitation : “He loves to garden or walk, he listens to all the music that Jimmy Hendrix, and he was the table tennis. “Rock’ n ‘ roll, almost.
The researcher has a mischievous smile at the corner of the lips. Like when he is interviewed on the little fortune received with the price (more than 800,000 euros to share in three). “Someone counted for me, this is what wins Ronaldo in ten minutes, rigole-t-il. If you ask me what I’m going to do, ask every ten minutes ! “
An open mind, especially to Japan, where he gives courses
a Young grand-father (his son is a computer scientist in San Francisco), Jean-Pierre Sauvage still has an office within the University, but it has taken a step back. Even if Jean-Michel Lehn would like to still be involved on new projects. “But I let myself the right to be different “, has fun there. The sharing, however, is in its genes.
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” I love to lecture, give classes, in France or abroad, and I will continue as long as possible “, illustrates one that is waiting for possible applications of this work in nano-medicine, for example. He planned to come in ten days in Japan. A culture very appreciated in the course of its 21 invitations in the country of the rising sun.
After his supervisor and him, one of his students ?
Judged pleasant by the staff, Jean-Pierre Sauvage will surely not change, but he will have to get used to these new stresses. He intends to use his new notoriety. Example with this message slipped to the end of its intervention, on Wednesday : “It must not be forgotten that the situation is difficult for young people who want to do research in France. “
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In the meantime, the university of Strasbourg is again celebrated by the Nobel. Inspired by his phd supervisor award to him in 1987, Jean-Pierre Sauvage, award-winning in 2016, give ideas to others ? It is possible. “I have very good alumni, very creative, and they are still in the middle of their career, anything can happen. “
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