Résumé (en anglais)

Summary of the projet

With a long tradition of technological developments, a wealth of international top-level scientific instruments (ESRF , IRAM, ILL, LNCMI, etc), and a strong implantation of CNRS, CEA and major industrial groups, Grenoble has long been a key player in the field of innovating technologies in many different fields of science. Recent evolutions are strengthening the links between the various actors and giving more visibility to the Grenoble University, which ranks in the top Universities in France, and is finalizing an IdEx project. The OSUG@2020 LabEx project that we propose gathers some 840 scientists, engineers and students who wish to actively contribute to this evolution and set up a top-level research and training stronghold in Earth and Environment sciences, and Astrophysics.

More specifically, the 4 Research Units and 3 Associated Research Teams federated in the Observatory of Grenoble (OSUG) – all of which received the highest evaluation grades – have driven internationally recognized technological achievements in the field of astronomy, planetology, glaciology, climatology, hydrology, seismology, and geosciences in general. For example, fundamental research on the propagation of waves in complex media has led to the most promising method for monitoring minute changes in the uppermost layers of the solid Earth, opening unforeseen perspectives in seismic and volcanic forecasting. OSUG has integrated the NAOS instrument on the Earth’s largest telescope that an OSUG team used to reveal the first image ever of an extrasolar planet. These images convey exoplanets direct photons, opening the new field of comparative exo-planetology. The same high technology turns out to offer most promising widespread applications for in situ spectroscopy. The strong link between OSUG researchers and applied maths led to the advent of novel data assimilation and modelling techniques, which now permit operational oceanography. And more applications are clearly on the way.

In addition, OSUG manages a number of key Observing systems, which contribute to national and international databases. The advent of new information technologies permitting the interoperability of huge, dispersed and heterogeneous data sets opens unforeseen possibilities for scientists, and for public and private end-users.

The main objectives of the OSUG@2020 project are :
- to extend the expertise of the OSUG federation in interdisciplinary research to face new scientific challenges with high economical and societal relevance ;
- to improve understanding and predictive capacity concerning natural systems through innovative observation and modelling strategies ;
- to extend our shared expertise on environmental issues, including their impact on humans and other species ;
- to enrich the observations of OSUG’s numerous Observing systems through recent advances in information and probing technologies ;
- to further address strategic research priorities in “Environmental urgency, ecotechnologies”, and some in “Information, communication and nanotechnologies”, “Social sciences” and “Health” ;
- to attract more and better students through a renovation of the programs and new tools for higher education.
- To be at the forefront of the new economical opportunities arising from environmental issues and instrumentation development, and to develop reliable advising expertise for public policy.

In order to meet these objectives, we propose to enlarge the perimeter of OSUG with the arrival of two new Research Units (LEGI and LECA) and two new Associated Research Teams (RCC and LAME) – all top-rated by AERES. The OSUG@2020 partnership also includes a Research Unit (EMGR) and a team (from ETNA Research Unit) of IRSTEA-Grenoble. LEGI and IRSTEA-ETNA bring expertise in fundamental and applied fluid dynamics, and engineering. LECA and IRSTEA-EMGR give us the opportunity to fully incorporate ecology and biodiversity in the scope of our research and higher education projects. RCC brings a crucial expertise in social vulnerability (including risk perception) and adaptation, and access to social sciences training. LAME explores new physical processes and invents instruments that open amazing possibilities for observation. We think that the experience gained by OSUG in conducting fruitful and balanced multidisciplinary research over its present perimeter is a guarantee of success of the proposed enlargement.

We have already worked together and shared the preparation of several innovative EquipEx projects, which are the building blocks of our LabEx proposal. These projects are coordinated by members of the present LabEx partnership, and carried by the Grenoble University. But we are also strongly involved in half-a-dozen national EquipEx projects driven by CNRS, in line with the national observation missions assigned to OSUG.
Research-driven training is central to our project. Nearly 250 graduate students are being trained in research in the labs and teams of OSUG@2020. We are member of the first Master Erasmus Mundus labelled by the European Union in the field of Earth Sciences. We have thus trained over 100 students from 25 countries in Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Seismology since 2005. Relying upon this international experience and other successful innovative training programs, and upon the quality of our teaching staff (more than a quarter of the members of the highly selective Institut Universitaire de France in “Sciences of the Earth, Universe, and Space” are members of OSUG@2020), we propose to strengthen our international standpoint by creating an attractive “Environment Campus”, and by training our students with modern exploration and observation instruments. We will also expand our e-learning courses and develop new professional training programs, with a particular effort towards developing countries.

With over 75 articles in Nature and Science since 2005, OSUG@2020 clearly contributes to advancing the frontiers of knowledge, and we expect even more discoveries to emerge from the truly multidisciplinary approach we wish to foster. These cutting-edge results attract the interest of large industrial groups, with which we have long-standing collaborations. They also trigger patents, spin-offs and a whole range of applications, and contribute to the evolution of public policies (concerning natural risks, water and land management, and ecosystem service, for example). We plan to improve the transfer of expertise towards small and middle-size enterprises, which are numerous in the Grenoble basin, while paying more attention to their expectations.

Observatories offer a rather complete set of management tools. OSUG is (i) a School of the University (Joseph Fourier Grenoble 1), (ii) an observatory attached to CNRS-INSU, and (ii) a research federation. A Service Unit directed by the director of OSUG hosts the staff in charge of the mutual equipment and platforms. The staff and funds allocated to OSUG are discussed within a Strategic Committee composed of the representatives of all reference institutions of OSUG. The Minister of Research appoints the director of OSUG, who implements the policy decided by the Council of the Observatory, whose President is an external personality. OSUG@2020 will use the existing governing structure of OSUG, in which all partners will be represented. A Scientific Council will be set-up and will be responsible for the repartition of the LabEx funds. The staff of the Service Unit will be strengthened to efficiently manage the funds, the reporting, and the new equipments.

OSUG@2020 addresses several priorities of the national strategic innovation plan (SNRI), in particular with regard to environmental urgency. It is well in line with the strategic priorities expressed by its main reference institutions : PRES “Université de Grenoble”, CNRS, “Institut de Recherche pour le Développement”, and IRSTEA. OSUG@2020 ambitions to be a driving force of the Grenoble IdEx project, and will actively interact, in a truly interdisciplinary manner, with the other LabEx presented by “Université de Grenoble”, and in particular with ITEM “ Innovation et Territoires de Montagne”, GAMIST “Grenoble Alliance for Mathematics and Information Sciences and Technology”, TECXXI “Towards the Engineering of Complexity : mechanical and process engineering contributions to XXIst century societal issue”, COMPLEX-LIFE “Complexity and Diversity of Life”, and OSUTI “From the Observation and the Study of the Universe To the Innovation technologies”.

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