Welcome to Chalmers! You have been in connection with Chalmers before, as a student. Can you tell us a bit about what made you come here?
– Thank you, and yes, I was at Chalmers already as a student. When I decided to go to Chalmers with the ERASMUS exchange programme, I was looking for a new experience, a change of scenery, a chance to study differently, and I was curious about new topics which were not available in my home university. Chalmers offers such a wide range of courses, it felt like the possibilities were unlimited. I took as many courses as I could and even came back for a second year for an MSc degree in Industrial Ecology. I told myself that I would come back some day… And this day has come!
What did you do when you left Chalmers after graduation?
– After leaving Chalmers I conducted industry projects on renewable energy systems and eco-efficiency across Europe. Most recently I was a lead researcher at University of Cambridge in the UK. When the new position for assistant professor in the Production Area of Advance was advertised, I thought it was a perfect match to my research interests and a great opportunity to continue the adventure with Chalmers.
One of the challenges mentioned in the job posting was about developing intelligent/smart industry. How do you see your role as a key player in Chalmers continued focus on smart industry?
– Over the past ten years, I have contributed to various research projects on sustainability and resource efficiency with leading manufacturing companies. My research explores the relationship between industry and environmental sustainability at multiple levels, from processes and factories to products’ life cycle and whole value chains.
During her time as an ERASMUS student at Chalmers, Mélanie Despeisse competed in the 2007 Eco marathon. Photo: Jan-Olov Yxell
What are you most passionate about in your research?
– Fundamentally, we need to rethink how industry operates to provide social and economic value while respecting the planet’s capacity to support all human activities. This will require a dramatic shift in the way we produce and consume stuff. With the growing awareness and interest in the sustainability challenge, many people are starting to see opportunities rather than limitations.
– I really believe that we can play a positive role in our planet’s ecosystem if we put our minds to it. After all, that’s what industrial systems do best: if we define sustainability as a desirable output, we will create the industrial processes to deliver it efficiently. It’s not just about “less bad” or “zero impact” on the natural environment. It’s about being good, creating a positive impact wherever we can, and simply doing the right thing.