Her name is Tahina Ralitera, she is only 24 years old and is currently pursuing her 3rd year of a PhD in Computer Science at the Laboratoire d’Informatique et de Mathématiques (LIM) of the University of Reunion. Holder of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for Women in Science, she tells us about her career.
From Madagascar to Reunion Island
Tahina Ralitera studied in Antananarivo at the Ecole Supérieure de Polytechnique (ESPA), in the Telecommunication field, in the Engineering course. In 2013, she was awarded a French Government Scholarship for Excellence. The cooperation agreement between ESPA and the Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieur Réunion Océan Indien (ESIROI) allows him to be one of the 3 students selected to continue their studies in Reunion Island. She recounts:
“It has always been my dream to get a scholarship that would allow me to continue my studies abroad. I have always considered it a great opportunity. As they say, you have to leave to come back.
Valedictorian with Honors during her Master 2 at ESIROI in 2016, Tahina Ralitera is on a quest for excellence. So she goes to the SMARTGREENS international conference in 2017 and publishes a paper as a first author. The latter is awarded the Best Poster Award.
Tahina began her thesis working with researchers at Imperial College London (ICL). His field of research? The city and the smart island, especially the mobility and transport aspect. “As a computer scientist, I am working on the development of software to simulate the flow of electric vehicle movements in cities and islands. This software is intended to be used as a decision support tool.”
In concrete terms, it is working on reproducing the behaviour of individual electric vehicles on a computer. These behaviors are translated into computer programs or “agents”. In this way, the simulations generate statistical data useful for decision-making. In other words, it allows it to know, for example, where the ideal location for a charging station would be.
Currently a PhD student, but future teacher-researcher
In 2017, Tahina Ralitera applied online for the FRANCE L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowships for Women in Science.
Created in 2007, this program focuses on the participation of young women in science and promotes research in a professional setting. Quality of the application: scientific excellence of the research project, ability to communicate and promote science as well as mastery of the French language are part of the selection criteria. The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowships, worth US$15,000, are aimed at the most talented young women researchers. Among a thousand applications, only 30 were retained and selected by the President of the Academy of Sciences, including Tahina Ralitera.
“I have often received discouraging remarks. Sometimes people have questioned my skills as a computer scientist just because I am a woman. I had to prove myself. However, the mentality is changing and I feel like I belong.” A prototype of the flow simulation software developed by Tahina Ralitera is already functional in London.
“Contrary to what most people think, science is not a male domain. Girls have every right to be in it and can excel in it, just like boys.”
In the long term, Tahina Ralitera wishes to become a teacher-researcher and carry out missions in Madagascar: teaching, research, humanitarian projects…