An interview with Géraldine Morin

Author/Interviewee: Assoc. Prof. Géraldine Morin, IRIT - Université de Toulouse
Author/Editor/Interviewer: Michael Riegler - SimulaMet and University of Oslo

Please describe your journey into research from your youth up to the present. What foundational lessons did you learn from this journey? Why were you initially attracted to multimedia?

My journey into research was not such a linear path (or ’straight path’ as some French institutions put it —a criteria for them to hire)… I started convinced that I wanted to be a high school math teacher. Since I was accepted in a Math and CS engineering school after a competitive exam, I did accept to study there, working in parallel towards a pure math degree.
The first year, I did manage to follow both curricula (taking two math exams in September), but it was quite a challenge and the second year I gave up on the math degree to keep following the engineering curricula.
I finished with a master degree in applied Math (back then fully included in the engineering curricula) and really enjoyed working on the Master thesis (I did my internship in Kaiserslautern, Germany) so I decided to apply for a Ph.D. grant.
I made it into the Ph.D. program in Grenoble and liked my Ph.D. topic in geometric modelling but had a hard time with my advisor there.
So I decided after two years to give up, (passed a motorcycle driving licence) and went on teaching Math in high school for a year (also passed the teacher examination). Encouraged by my former German Master thesis advisor, I then applied for a Ph.D. program at Rice University in the US to work with Ron Goldman, a researcher whose work and papers I really liked. I got the position and really enjoyed doing research there.
After a wedding, a kid, and finishing the Ph.D. (in that order) I had moved to Germany to live with my husband and found a Postdoc position in Berlin for one year. I applied then to Toulouse, where I have stayed since. In Toulouse, I was hired in a Computer Vision research group, where a subgroup of people were tackling problems in multimedia, and offered me the chance to be the 3D-person of their team 🙂

I learned that a career, or research path, is really shaped by the people you meet on your way, for good or bad. Perseverance for something you enjoy is certainly necessary, and not staying in a context that do not fit you is also important! I am glad I did start again after giving up at first, but also do not regret my choice to give up either.

Research topic, and research areas, are important and a good match with your close collaborators is also very relevant to me. I really enjoy the multimedia community for that matter. The people are open minded and curious, and very encouraging… At multimedia conferences I always feel that my research is valued and relevant to the field (in the other communities, CG or CV, I sometimes get a remark like, ‘oh well, I guess you are not really doing C{G|V}’ …). Multimedia also has a good balance between theory and practice, and that’s fun !

Visit in Chicago during my Ph.D. in the US.

Visit in Chicago during my Ph.D. in the US.


Tell us more about your vision and objectives behind your current roles? What do you hope to accomplish and how will you bring this about?

I just took the responsibility of a department, while we are changing the curricula. This is a lot of organisation and administrative work, but also forces me to have a larger vision of how the field of computer science is evolving and what is important to teach. Interestingly, we prepare our student for jobs that do not exist yet ! This new challenge for me, also makes me realise how important it is to keep time for research, and the open-mindedness I get from my research activity.

Can you profile your current research, its challenges, opportunities, and implications?

As I mentioned before, currently, my challenge is to be able to keep on being active in research. I follow up on two paths: first in geometric modeling, trying to bridge the gap between my current interest in skeleton based models and two hot topics that are 3D printing, and machine learning.
The second is to continue working in multimedia, in distributing 3D content in a scalable way.
Concerning my implication, I am also currently co-heading the French geometric modeling group, and I very much appreciate to promote our research community, and contribute to keep it active and recognised.

How would you describe the role of women especially in the field of multimedia?

I have participated in my first women in MM meeting in ACM, and very much appreciated it. I have to admit I was not really interested in women targeted activities before I did participate in my first women workshop (WiSH – Women in SHape) in 2013, that brought groups on women to collaborate during one week… that was a great experience, that made me realise that, despite the fact that I really enjoy working with my -almost all male- colleagues, it was also fun and very inspiring to work with women groups. Moreover, being questioned by younger colleagues about the ability for a woman to have a family and faculty job, I now think that my good experience as a faculty and mother of 3 should be shared when needed.

How would you describe your top innovative achievements in terms of the problems you were trying to solve, your solutions, and the impact it has today and into the future?

My first contributions were in a quite theoretical field : during my Ph.D. I proposed to use analytic functions in a geometric modeling context. That raised some convergence issues that I managed to prove.
Later, I really enjoyed working with collaborators and proposing a shared topic with my colleague Romulus who worked on streaming, we started in 2006 to work on 3D streaming; that led us to collaborating with Wei Tsang Ooi for the National University of Singapore and for more than 12 years, we have been now advancing some innovative solutions for the distribution of 3D content, working on adapted 3D models for me, and system solutions for them… implying along the way new colleagues. Along the way, we won the best paper award for my Ph.D. student paper in the ACM MM in 2008 (I am very proud of that —despite the fact that I could not attend the conference, I gave birth between submission and conference ;).

Over your distinguished career, what are your top lessons you want to share with the audience?

A very simple one: Enjoy what you do! and work will be fun.
For me, I am amazed thinking over new ideas always remain so exciting 🙂

What is the best joke you know? 🙂

hard one !

Jogging in the morning to N Seoul Tower for sunrise, ACM-MM 2018.

Jogging in the morning to N Seoul Tower for sunrise, ACM-MM 2018.


If you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?

I have heard there are very detailed studies, especially in the US about difference between male and female behaviour.
It seems that being aware of these helps. For example, women tend to judge themselves harder that men do…
(that’s not really a question and answer, more a remark :p )

Another try:
Q: What would make you feel confident/helps you get over challenges ?
A: I think I lack self confidence, and I always ask for a lot of feedback from colleagues (for examples for dry runs).
If I get good feedback, it boosts my confidence, if I get worst feedback, it helps me improve… I win both ways 🙂



Assoc. Prof. Géraldine Morin: 

Je suis Maître de conférences à l’ENSEEIHT, l’une des écoles de l’Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse de l’Université de Toulouse, et j’effectue ma recherche à l’IRIT (UMR CNRS 5505). Avant de m’installer à Toulouse, j’étais Grenobloise et j’ai été diplomée de l’ENSIMAG (diplôme d’ingénieur) et de l’ Université Joseph Fourier (D.E.A. de mathématiques appliquées) ainsi qu’une licence de maths purs que j’ai suivi en parallèle à ma première année d’école d’ingénieur. J’ai ensuite fait une thèse en Modélisation Géométrique aux Etats-Unis à (Rice University) (“Analytic Functions for Computer Aided Geometric Design”) sous la direction de Ron Goldman. Ensuite, j’ai fait un postdoc d’un an en géométrie algorithmique, à la Freie Universität de Berlin.

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