Catherine Bréchignac

Catherine Bréchignac (French pronunciation: [katʁin bʁeʃiɲak] (About this soundlisten); born 12 June 1946) is a French physicist. She is a commander of the Légion d'honneur, "secrétaire perpétuel honoraire" of the Académie des sciences and former president of the CNRS ("National Centre for Scientific Research").[1] The Times says she has "a formidable reputation for determination, decisiveness and an aptitude for analysing and clarifying complex matters."[2] As a president of the CNRS, she was responsible for 25,000 employees, 12,000 of whom are researchers, and a budget of 2.42 billion Euros.[2]

Catherine Bréchignac
Catherine Brechignac p1140529.jpg
Catherine Bréchignac in 2006
Born (1946-06-12) 12 June 1946 (age 73)
Alma materÉcole Normale Supérieure de Lyon
Faculté des sciences d'Orsay
AwardsCommander of the Légion d'honneur
Many others, see article
Scientific career


Daughter of the physicist Jean Teillac and alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-aux-Roses, Catherine Bréchignac received her DEA (Masters-level qualification) at the Faculté des sciences d'Orsay in 1971, her doctorate in 1977, and became a Research Director in 1985. In 1989 she became director of the Aimé Cotton laboratory, and was Director General of the CNRS from 1997 to 2000. She clashed with Claude Allègre, the minister at the time, over reforms she oversaw at the institution.[3] She became President of the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée ("Institute of Optical Theory and Practice") in 2003 and of the Palais de la découverte ("Palace of Discovery") in 2004. In 2005 she was elected future president of the International Council for Science (ICSU).[4] She was appointed President of the CNRS at the Council of Ministers of 11 January 2006 on the recommendation of François Goulard, the minister for higher education and research.[5][6] She was replaced by Alain Fuchs in 2010, even though she was a candidate to her own succession.[7] She was "secrétaire perpétuel" (permanent secretary) of the Académie des sciences, Division 1,[8] from 2011 to 2018.[9]


According to the International Council for Science, Bréchignac co-founded the field of cluster physics, which straddles the gap between atomic, molecular and solid-state physics.[4] Clusters are "the precursors of nano-objects."[4]

Other functions and honoursEdit


  1. ^ Terraso, David (2006-02-13). "Professor named president of Europe's largest scientific body". Georgia Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  2. ^ a b "At the centre of revolution in research: Catherine Bréchignac". Times Higher Education. 2000-04-14. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  3. ^ "Catherine Bréchignac". Les Échos (in French). 2008-06-18. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  4. ^ a b c d "Executive Board - ICSU President: Catherine Bréchignac". International Council for Science. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-05-29. ICSU]
  5. ^ "New president pledges to put science back at the top of CNRS agenda". Times Higher Education. 2006-02-09. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  6. ^ Blandin, Noël (2006-01-12). "Catherine Bréchignac est nommée présidente du CNRS". République des Lettres (in French). Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  7. ^ Jacqué, Philippe (14 January 2010). "Un nouveau patron à la tête du CNRS". Le Monde (in French).
  8. ^ Contact us, Académie des sciences, retrieved 9 November 2015
  9. ^ "Communiqué de presse : Étienne Ghys élu Secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie des sciences" (in French). Académie des sciences. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  10. ^ Décret du 18 avril 2014 portant promotion, Journal officiel de la République française, n°0094, 20 April 2014, p. 6950