Sophie Godin-Beekmann, the new interim director of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, took up her post on 1st October 2023. She replaces Robert Vautard, who headed the IPSL from 2020 to 2023.
A physicist by training, she obtained her degree in Atmospheric Physics from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 1987. Her thesis supervisor was Gérard Mégie, founder of the IPSL.
After a postdoctoral internship in the United States, she joined the CNRS in 1989. As a research instrumentalist, she developed lidar instruments to measure the vertical distribution of ozone and aerosols in the stratosphere. Since 1991, she has been principal investigator for the international NDACC network (Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Changes) and operates a lidar at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence (OHP), for the long-term monitoring of ozone and stratospheric aerosols.
Sophie Godin-Beekmann specialises in the composition of the atmosphere and, in particular, the ozone layer and changes in the stratosphere in relation to climate change. With her teams, she is studying the destruction of ozone over the polar regions and on a global scale. She is also interested in the aerosols produced by volcanic eruptions and major forest fires, which reach the stratosphere, as well as surface UV radiation and its impact on human health (skin cancer, vitamin D).
Throughout her career, she has held numerous positions in the service of the scientific community: scientific delegate at INSU (CNRS) in the Ocean-Atmosphere section between 2008 and 2012, she became director of the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Observatory from 2012 to 2017, then deputy scientific director at INSU, in charge of observatories for the sciences of the universe from 2018 to 2023.
Renowned for her research into the stratosphere, Sophie Godin-Beekmann was elected secretary, in 2008, and then president, in 2016, of the International Ozone Commission (IO3C), as well as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Ozone and Solar UV Radiation (WMO SAG-O3) and chair of the Advisory Committee for the Vienna Convention Trust Fund.
An honorary member of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, she has been principal investigator (PI) on 17 European projects since 1989, the most recent of which, ACTRIS PPP, ran from 2017 to 2020.
Sophie Godin-Beekmann, the author of more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals, has built up an international reputation, which she hopes will also extend to the IPSL: "The IPSL is an important community for climate sciences, recognised for its contribution to the IPCC exercises. We must continue to ensure that IPSL maintains its position as a benchmark institute in the climate sciences, providing high-quality climate models and observations.
A member of the Academia Europaea, a Cambridge-based charity that promotes education and research, Sophie Godin-Beekmann advocates strong connections and interactions between the climate sciences and other disciplines: "We need to build bridges with other disciplines and set up projects together, particularly with the humanities and social sciences, to assess the impact of scientific discourse on climate change, but also with the health sciences, for example".
In 2023, Sophie Godin-Beekmann will become scientific delegate for the ecoresponsibility of research activities at INSU (CNRS). For the new director, this is a major issue at the IPSL, and it is essential to go beyond optimising tools to "implement a genuine transformation at the heart of research and bring about changes in practices, so as to reduce emissions. [...] As a scientific community that warns of climate change, we cannot escape these constraints".