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a bit about myself...

 

My name is Sybil Derrible. I was born and raised in the archipelago of St Pierre and Miquelon. St Pierre and Miquelon (Google Map) is a French owned territory, located about 13km off the south coast of Newfoundland, Canada. It has a gigantic population of roughly 6,000 people. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is a wonderful and beautiful place that is surely worth visiting. It has the strange combination of looking like a typical fishermen's village from the coast of Atlantic Canada, whilst having a strong embedded French culture. It is actually part of Europe (we have the euro!), although you could argue I am physically North-American. Please, visit the links page to learn more about St Pierre and Miquelon.

At 18 years old, in 2001, I passed my Scientific French Baccalaureate and went to France to pursue my education. I attended the Lycée Joffre in Montpellier, to do a prépa maths (the French system is a little odd, you can read more about it here). However, after a few months, I had the opportunity to learn more about British universities. Having a British grandmother (from Newfoundland before it was Canadian), I had always been attracted to the English language. This is a boat I did not want to miss. I therefore applied and was accepted at Imperial College London, to do a "Masters of Engineering with a Year Abroad” in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

At my arrival in the UK, I was stunned. I resided at Southwell Hall (university dorm); there were so many people from so many different places. You should remember now that I am from St Pierre and Miquelon, and this was a significant 'leap' for me. Imperial College London is certainly a great university, located in the heart of London in South Kensington. I liked the lectures; I liked the Professors. It was tough but I expected no less. I have to admit that I have spent long hours in the computer room and the library. Nevertheless, my experience was life-changing.

I further spent my final year abroad, as an Erasmus student at the Ecole Centrale of Lyon in France. I enrolled in the Innovation Management section of the Department of Industrial Engineering. I truly enjoyed my time in Lyon, especially considering this is where I met my wife Marie-Agathe. Nonetheless, I found myself spending time almost entirely with the other international students, and I knew I had to move on. Subsequently, as part of the school requirements, we all had to do a four-to-five month internship, which I did at the Information Technology consulting firm Accenture in Paris. Although I liked the professional world, I was drawn back to grad life. I therefore started to apply for Ph.D. positions and was accepted at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Prof. Chris Kennedy (who is now Department Chair at the University of Victoria).

In September 2006, I landed in Canada. Toronto is certainly one of the most multi-cultural cities in the World, and it feels like it. The University is located downtown. It dates back to 1828 and the buildings are wonderful. I often say that Toronto is a city that grows on oneself; I lived there for five years and I admit it was hard to leave. My introduction to the research world was exceptional and I could not have hoped for a better experience. I completed the requirements for the Ph.D. degree in July 2010 and started a post-doc almost immediately with the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto.

In the fall 2010, I also applied for a prestigeous Post-Doctoral Fellowship (PDF) with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and was awarded it in the spring of 2011. At the same time, I became acquainted with MIT professors involved at SMART. The location of tenure for my fellowship therefore became obvious very rapidly. Marie-Agathe and I arrived in Singapore in early August and we were delighted to be there. Living in Singapore for a year was a fantastic opportunity. Not only did I enjoy a great work environment, I got to travel all around South-East Asia, including in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Hong Kong! Marie and I were sad to leave but eager to start a new adventure.

Since August 2012, I have been living in Chicago as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and it feels great! I have started my own research group, the Complex and Sustainabile Urban Networks (CSUN) Lab, and our mission is to create knowledge and develop methods to help design smart, sustainable, and resilient cities. The U.S. system is most certainly keeping me busy and all is going extremely well. In 2016, I was notably award a NSF CAREER award for my project "Understanding the Fundamental Principles Driving Household Energy and Resource Consumption for Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Communities". Personally, Marie-Agathe and I got married and we still try to go back to Asia at least once a year (we had to chance to add several countries to our list!). I hope to be telling you many more tales in the near future…

Make sure to follow me on Twitter: @SybilDerrible