The library staff sat down with Matthieu Solignac, former Post-Doctoral researcher at the Population Studies Center, to speak about his almost 2 years spent working and living in Philadelphia and at Penn.
Getting to Penn In 2015 Matthieu was on the job market after getting his PhD in Economics from the Paris School of Economics when he met Michel Guillot. Solignac has studied Engineering and Economics so when Guillot invited him to be a Post-Doc at Penn he jumped at the opportunity. The statistical database project had recently been funded and Solignac saw the opportunity to work with data he was familiar with and to develop his demographic research skills. He had studied at INED and the European school of Demography when getting his PhD and knew the value in exploring new environments and communities hence why he was excited and ready come to Philadelphia and Penn.
"In Demography the quantitative approach is totally justified; everyone dies and there are moments we can rely on to develop models of quantitative analysis." - Matthieu Solignac
New in Town Matthieu arrived to an office space, computer, and total administrative support immediately which was "totally amazing". He quickly became close with PhD students in the Graduate Group of Demography and within one week of living in Philly he was invited to a birthday party. The openness of the PSC spaces allowed him to work and socialize at any and all times. He sat in on a Demography class when he first arrived to refresh and enhance his demographic methods skills and throughout his time at Penn participated in events across campus. He highly recommends taking advantage of Career Services, English language seminars, food trucks, and exploring Penn's Campus; "The Palestra is now my number one basketball arena."
Research For Solignac it was important to enhance his knowledge and demographic perspective of his current and future research. He said he found the intersection of Demography and Economics interesting, "In Demography the quantitative approach is totally justified; everyone dies and there are moments we can rely on to develop models of quantitative analysis." Matthieu also spent time learning about Journal article writing from Irma Elo, Guillot, and Annette Lareau. He felt the support and training was very explicit: "These are the ethics guidelines; this is a way to explain your method; this is how you not only read, but write Journal articles." The collaboration and co-authorship was a new approach for Matthieu. In fact, he is a co-author for a few forthcoming articles with Michel Guillot and Irma Elo.
Feeling at Home Matthieu, a native of France, also spent time learning and developing his communication skills in and out of the office. Throughout his time at Penn he felt increasingly comfortable starting conversations and asking questions in English even if it wasn't perfect. He also felt accepted in the community as a foreigner and felt that even with an accent he could be understood. After finishing his post-doc Solignac started in a position created for him at the University of Bordeaux. His relationships with his mentors, contribution to the grant, skills developed, and experience here at Penn have all helped him get to where he is now and we wish him the best of luck!