Françoise Gaill

Former Director of the Institute of Ecology and Environment at CNRS

F. Gaill has been involved in the field of marine biology, with a specific interest in the thermal adaptation of deep-sea animals. After a PhD at the Museum national d’Histoire naturelle on the taxonomy and biology of Tunicates, she decided to work on liquid crystals and its biological analogs at the CNRS center for cell biology.

After the discovery of hydrothermal vents, she returned to the study of deep-sea animals by integrating the Roscoff biological station. She was involved in the study of biopolymers from vent and cold seeps tube worms in the nineties and then created a research group AMEX, dedicated on adaptation and evolution of symbiotic organisms from deep sea ecosystems. Questions about molecular adaptation, stress response, development and evolution of symbiosis are the main aspects studied on worms and bivalves.

F. Gaill has developed specific tools for supramolecular analysis of marine organisms with the help of cryoelectron microscopy. Its team has conceived new high-pressure equipments for in vivo studies on deep-sea organisms and has a good expertise in molecular detection and imagery of invertebrate larvae and symbionts The invitation to create an Electron microscopy center in Paris was the opportunity for participating to the Developmental Biology laboratory of Jussieu (Sorbonne University) and then to the creation of a new Research Unit, focused on marine biodiversity studies.

This scientist has organized national and international hydrothermal vent cruises using submersibles. She has a solid knowledge of the US and French submersibles such as Alvin, Nautile and ROV Victor6000. She has been involved in the coordination of the deep-sea research community at the international level with InterRidge and Census of marine life or with the European Science Foundation. This scientist has more than 150 publications and several patents.

This researcher was in charge of CNRS foreign affairs at the department of life sciences, and then she got the chair position of the department environment and sustainable development. She was in charge of the CNRS Institute of Ecology and Environment during the following years. The objective of this institute, so-called INEE, was to promote and coordinate top-level fundamental research in global ecology conducted by research units in the fields of ecology and environment, including biodiversity and human-environment interactions. Such an institute comprises about 80 research units associated with 25 French universities and other national research organisms. She was also vice president of the Alliance Allenvi, a national research consortium dedicated to environmental sciences, and is now scientific advisor for the CNRS INEE.

Françoise Gaill has participated to several boards from national or international research organisations. She has been at the head of the “Grenelle de la mer” in charge of research and innovation, and of the scientific and strategic committee of the large scale infrastructure FOF (French oceanographic fleet). She is chair of the national committee for marine and coastal research (COMER) and is vice chair of the National Agency for Biodiversity (AFB). She is also member of steering committees of diverse companies, foundations or institutions involved in biodiversity and marine activities (Total, Veolia foundation, IFM, Tara expeditions, MNHN,…). She is vice chair of the IOC French delegation (intergovernmental oceanographic committee) of the UNESCO and coordinator of the scientific committee of the Ocean Climate Platform. She was involved in the first United Nations Word Ocean Assessment and in the SDGs UN reports- especially the goal 14 dedicated to the oceans, and she is member of the BBNJ French delegation.

This scientist is “commandeur” for the National Order of Légion d’Honneur, and also for that of “Mérite”.