In January 2019, the BRGM, the French geological survey, saw two of its scientists receive the Legion of Honour.
Spotlight on two environmental challenges: reducing CO2 emissions and managing water resources
Isabelle Czernichowski-Lauriol and Nathalie Dörfliger, both admitted to the knighthood of the Legion of Honour, were selected for their commitment and their exemplary research and innovation work on environmental issues of major importance.
Isabelle Czernichowski-Lauriol, nominated by the Ministry for an Ecological and Inclusive Transition, is an internationally recognised specialist in geological storage of CO2. As a pioneering climate change researcher in France, she has been involved since 1993 in numerous European research projects and directed the French National Research Agency's CO2 Capture and Storage programme from 2010 to 2013. She devoted considerable efforts to creating and building up the reach of CO2GeoNet, the European network of excellence on geological storage of CO2, of which she is now the Emeritus President. She coordinates the French node of ECCSEL, the European research infrastructure for CO2 capture and storage.
In 2007, on a proposal from the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research, she received a knighthood of the National Order of Merit. In 2015, she was awarded the CSLF prize (Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum) in Riyadh by the Saudi Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources and the United States Secretary of State for Energy, for the "CGS Europe" programme which she coordinated. En 2018, she received the ENSG School's honorary award for her entire career and her international expertise on CO2 storage.
She has worked for the BRGM since 1984, starting out as a PhD researcher after graduating with an engineering degree from the Nancy Higher National School of Geology (ENSG).
Nathalie Dörfliger, nominated by the Ministry for Research, Higher Education and Innovation (MESRI), is an expert in the field of hydrogeology and recognised across Europe and internationally for her work on karst hydrogeology. On completion of her thesis with Neuchâtel University in Switzerland, she began her European career as the Scientific Secretary for a COST programme (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) on the management and protection of karstic aquifers. After some 10 years as a project manager with the BRGM for European, ANR, local government and water agency projects, in particular on the hydrogeology of coastal aquifers in the Mediterranean area, she took on management responsibilities for hydrogeology and the environment and ecotechnologies at Montpellier and subsequently Orléans, from the department to the divisional level.
With her new responsibilities, she became involved in managing the thematic group on Water for AllEnvi, the French national alliance for environmental research, and is the MESRI co-representative for France within AllEnvi for the Joint Programming Initiative on water issues. She contributes in this capacity to the National Research Agency's strategic programming policy and its alignment at the European level, with a concern to promote groundwater, which is an invisible resource, as a major environmental challenge.
She is a member of mirror groups working on these European programmes, such as IPC Défis de l’eau and PRIMA for the Mediterranean, in recognition of her expert knowledge in water resource management. She also works at the international level to forge links between science and public policies in the water management field and to promote French and BRGM knowledge in water sciences. She has taken part in the World Water Forum since 2012 in Marseille through the French Partnership for Water, and since mid-2017 as Chair of the French Committee of the UNESCO International Hydrology Programme.
The Legion of Honour: France's highest national distinction
The Legion of Honour is France's highest national distinction and one of the best known across the world. For two centuries, it has been awarded in the name of the Head of State to the most deserving citizens in every field of activity. It now has 92 000 members.
Civilian awards in 2019 were made to 402 people, well-known to the public or not and in strict compliance with gender equality among the 345 Knighthoods, 42 Officers, 9 Commanders, 4 Grand Officers and 2 Grand Cross awards. Recipients include health specialists, law enforcement personnel, members of the Resistance, artists, elected officials, entrepreneurs, researchers, humanitarian workers and others.