Lucia Reining

In partnership with CNRS.
In the context of International Women’s Day

Background Introduction

 The Délégation générale de l’Alliance Française, the National Center for Scientific Research’s (CNRS) Mission for Women in the Sciences and the office of the CNRS in Washington will present a series of talks given by biologist May Morris (October 2008) and physicist Lucia Reining (March 2009). May Morris will speak about advancements in research on cancer and recent developments in therapeutics and Lucia Reining will discuss the interaction between light and matter found throughout the universe.

   Partners who invite the researchers may also choose to host the traveling exhibition Women in Physics, which was originated by CNRS’s Mission for Women in the Sciences in 2005 for the World Year of Physics.

   This exhibition is designed in the hope of making young people more fully aware of careers in science through the personal accounts of fifteen women physicists.

   The speakers will be able to adapt their talks to younger audiences.

The CNRS and the Mission for Women in the Sciences

   Founded in 1939 by the French government, the National Center for Scientific Research is the largest public research institution in Europe and the first scientific establishment to set up and implement procedures designed to promote the role of women in the 1,260 laboratories in France and abroad: gender statistics, identification of the factors influencing women’s careers, validation of women’s careers in the sciences, and especially at the CNRS, sensitivity to and training on the question of gender, promotion of research on gender, efforts to raise the issue among young people and the public at large, participation in national and European networks on the issue of “Women and Sciences” etc.

The Speaker

Lucia Reining was recruited by the CNRS in 1992 as researcher for the Physical Sciences and Mathematics Department and joined the theory group of the Irradiated Solids Laboratory (ISL) at the Polytechnic Institute of Palaiseau as coordinator of the Theoretical Spectroscopy team in the ISL.

She has had direct responsibility for a research team since 2000 and leads the group in the study of spectroscopy and electron excitation levels. She also conducts research at the European level.


She received CNRS’s Silver Medal in 2003 and has been “Fellow of the American Physical Society” since 2007.

Lucia Reining received her degree in physics from the University of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1985. Her thesis related to theories of condensed matter. Specifically, her work involved understanding interference effects in the optical spectra of certain materials. After having received her PhD in 1991, she began to utilize and develop theoretical and digital approaches leading to ways of better describing the interaction of electrons in different materials.

Having been  interested in the sciences since childhood and having worked in an area considered to be essentially for men, Lucia Reining has been confronted with all the prejudices and difficulties that a woman in this setting encounters. She has been speaking on how to promote the concept of parity between men and women in society since 2003.


In Search of Matter and its Radiation
“How can we look inside materials, and how can we understand its response to external disruption?”  The interaction between radiation and condensed matter is of fundamental importance in our everyday lives and in our advanced technical applications. The response of a material to visible light, X rays, lasers, and a bundle of electrons is at the origin of a material’s color. It determines if a material is a good candidate for use in solar cells or in optical storage, such as in DVDs.

Radiation can also change a molecule—the molecule can even split and result in cancer. Lucia Reining will also speak on the issue of irradiation and the storage of nuclear waste.

Informations pratiques :

Link to the exhibit: "Physique de femmes"

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Related Sites

  • Fondation Alliance Française
  • Alliance Française de Paris
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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