Interview to Laura Bear, researcher in the signal processing team at the Liryc Institute. Alongside her research projects and the experiments she conducts on a daily basis, Laura’s mission is to develop prognostic and therapeutic tools for major cardiac electrical disorders such as ventricular fibrillation.

What’s your position at Liryc?

I am a Molecular Biology Engineer.

When did you join the Liryc institute?

July 2015.

What research projects are you working on?

My research is focused on the development of prognostic and therapeutic tools for major cardiac electrical disorders such as ventricular fibrillation and electrical dyssynchrony in heart failure. I am interested in forward and inverse problems, in particular non-invasive electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) and its application to various cardiac arrhythmias. My main research project focuses on developing ECGI through extensive validation to become a powerful clinical tool to help understand the mechanisms behind VF induction in patients with structurally normal hearts at risk of sudden cardiac death.

What is your background before joining the Liryc Institute?

I obtained a bachelor of engineering degree in 2009 with the Engineering Science Department of the University of Auckland, specializing in biomedical engineering.  This gave me a solid basic knowledge in the application of mathematical and engineering sciences to biological systems and human physiology.
After my graduation, I was granted a Scholarship to complete a PhD with the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. My 4 year project was on the validation of ECGI for PVC localization using an in-vivo experimental data set, an undertaking that had never previously been achieved.
After my PhD, I moved to Bordeaux for a post-doctorate at the LIRYC Institute. Liryc was working with the ECGI as a clinical tool but was looking for someone to improve the methods for specific pathologies. I chose LIRYC to apply my methods to the clinic and patients.

What’s your typical day?

I have two typical days, office-based or experiment-based. On experiment days I am in the lab acquiring the data I need for my research.  Office based days are spent partially at my computer analysing this data and developing new algorithms to extract the information I want, and partially in meetings with other researchers to discuss these results and plan future research directions.

According to you, what qualities/skills do you think are needed for your position?

There are many skills required to be a researcher. To think critically, to be able to evaluate your work and that of others, making judgments about the value of information and drawing conclusions from data. A researcher also needs the abilitiy to problem solve, as working without “a right answer” is common and devising strategies to work towards a solution is always necessary. Research projects have to be managed, as well as your own workload and motivation, meaning project planning and management skills are necessary. The autonomous nature of the job means you need to have a strong work ethic and personal effectiveness that equips you for a wide range of challenging possibilities.

On a daily basis, what is your most used tool?

My computer.

In your opinion, is it difficult to be a woman in the scientific world today?

Women are playing an increasing role in research today but there are still barriers that prevent us from achieving success comparable to our male colleagues. While “hostile” sexism seems to be on the way out, “benevolent” sexism still has a strong presence in research, playing a complex role that is difficult to overcome. Benevolent sexism represents evaluations of gender that may appear subjectively positive, but are actually damaging to gender equality more broadly.
Personally, coming out of my PhD I had male colleagues tell me that, as a women, my research career path will be easier due to the growing gender-based administrative requirements in research. I agree that from the outside these requirements seem advantageous. However, these requirements and the types of comments that come with them can play a damaging role on ones psyche. They put into question every success in your career and whether you really merit it or if this was just some quota being met.
On the other hand, research has shown we not only need to be meticulous and hard-working, but also have been supported and mentored to have the confidence and optimism, self-assertion and bravado as well as the intellectual and technical ability to succeed in science. In its current state, the number of high profile female scientists that can take on these roles as mentors is small, and it seems these gender-based requirements are needed to encourage more females into science and engineering. Without them, we often see all-male PhD defense jury’s, conference panels, engineering courses etc. which as a female in research is very discouraging.
In it’s current state, being a women in research is hard and there seems to be no right answer to help rectify the inequalities of the past that established the male-dominated research environment of today.

How do you see the women’ position in research 20 years from now?

I hope to see the women on an equal footing in terms of representation in 20 years, without the need for gender-based requirements.


Juliette a été victime d’une mort subite cardiaque provoquée par un dysfonctionnement de son coeur. Grâce aux découvertes et aux innovations scientifiques de l’Institut Liryc, elle a pu être sauvée. Ne laissons pas les maladies du rythme cardiaque emporter des vies.

This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.