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Antoine Favre-Félix

PhD student in Cognitive Hearing Science
PhD student Antoine enjoys solving puzzles. He came to Denmark from France three years ago to do his Master’s thesis. Now he is doing a PhD, which gives him a daily opportunity to work on the biggest puzzle of the human body: the brain.

 

April 2018

Why did you start working here?

"When I took my education in France I was looking for a place to do my Master’s thesis, and I had a teacher, who set me up with Eriksholm Research Centre. I really enjoyed doing my project here, so I ended up doing my PhD here as well."

How did you get interested in the field of hearing care?

"I actually never thought about it before deciding to do my Master’s thesis here. I was interested in working with the brain, and I was lucky enough to be part of the COCOHA project. In this project we used in-ear electrodes to try to pick up brain signals. During my Master’s project, I was advised to find out whether we could also pick up eye movement from those in-ear electrodes. The other researchers thought it was possible to see this correlation, but they had never actually checked. It turns out that we can clearly detect eye movement from those electrodes. I was happy to find out something that could lead to useful results.
That made me interested in doing my PhD here, which is titled “Controlling a hearing aid by electrically assessed eye-gaze”.

How did you feel about moving to Denmark?

"To get a degree in my school it is required to spend a few months abroad, and I really had no problem coming here. I was already comfortable with English, and I am comfortable being away from home. I was a little worried about how it would be to live here without being able to speak Danish, but it is actually not a problem. I try to learn Danish though it is not easy."

While you have been working at Eriksholm, what do you think was your most significant experience?

"In the spring of 2016 a test person came here to try a new system. We had an eye tracking camera in front of her that picked up on the direction of her eye movements. She was sitting in front of three actual people, who were talking into microphones, while she was trying to listen to them with her normal hearing aid. Since they were talking at the same time, it was impossible for her to understand anything, so we used the system that picked up where her eyes were pointing, and amplified the voice of the person she was looking at. Then she could definitely understand everything. We filmed the test, and you can clearly see that she gets so much happier when it works. She talks, and she laughs, and it showed me that our work can be useful and help people. That was a really good experience."

What motivates you in your job?

"I really like to have a puzzle to solve. If I get stuck, I get more motivated to try to understand what went wrong. Once the puzzle is solved, it usually leads to something useful, and that is also important to me.
Looking at the brain, there is just so much we don’t know yet. It is the most complicated thing in the human body."

What do you do in spare time?

"I try to do a bit of sports. I started running quite a bit since last year. I enjoyed being part of the DHL run here at Eriksholm. We had some training here as a team. I am doing some yoga as well, but it is in a Danish gym, so it is all in Danish. I also do a little bit of video games, a lot of TV shows, and enjoy going out with my friends."

What are the three most important values to you?

"The most important value to me is honesty. It is a lot easier to be honest, and it feels more comfortable. Usually if you are open with other people, they are also more open with you. That makes relationships with others easier.

Another important value is kindness. Just being helpful, positive, and respectful towards others. Usually kindness is reciprocated. At least, that is my experience.

The third value is curiosity. I’ve noticed that when I dare to do things I am a bit scared of, I always feel good about myself afterwards. I think it is about overcoming some kind of fear for the unknown. That is usually rewarding. For instance, last summer I did skydiving. I had never planned to do it, and it is something that often scares people, but I really enjoyed it.

All of these values are a big part of who I am. I don’t force myself to do these things, it just comes natural to me."

What is the most exciting scientific breakthrough in your time?

"I think what is very important these days is artificial intelligence. For instance, autonomous cars will save many lives in the future. It will also have consequences, like many people losing their job because of it, but it will still save many lives. Artificial intelligence will have huge impact on society in general. At a presentation I went to some time ago, a presenter talked about how philosophers had always discussed what is right and what is wrong. But now with AI we need to have actual answers. Therefore, it is also very important from a philosophical point of view. I find that very interesting."

What do you hope will happen in future science?

"What is needed is to develop environmental aspects of science further. We need reliable clean energy, and energy companies need to focus on this instead of oil, because it is starting to be more and more urgent."

If you would like to know about Antoine Favre-Félix' PhD project, you can read his own description here.

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