I was born and grew up in Quebec City, Canada, which is one of the oldest cities in North America, also well known for its fortified colonial core and French-speaking population. My formative years were positively influenced by my involvement in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, which initiated me to the values of personal discipline, leadership, and citizenship. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn how to fly and earn my glider pilot and private pilot licenses; this was surely my first hands-on experience with the problems of controlling a dynamical system in a fluctuating environment!
At the age of majority, I moved to Montreal, Canada, to study Engineering Physics at the Ecole Polytechnique of Montreal. The core curriculum was principally devoted to understanding fundamental concepts in engineering and physics, the emphasis being laid on team projects and experimental laboratory work. This was a great initiation to the maker culture that led classmates and I to secure a first position at Quebec Engineering Competition and represent our province at the Canadian Engineering Competition. We also designed and construct a wood-made windmill prototype and raised sufficient financial support to attend a national symposium on renewable energy. Driven by strong academic expectations, I graduated with the highest scores at the undergraduate level for which I was later awarded the Governor General of Canada’s Silver Academic Medal. Looking for an intellectual challenge and determined to explore sciences further, I chose to take the highly competitive entrance examination to the Ecole Polytechnique in France.
After succeeding in the highly competitive entrance examination, I moved to France to attend Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, which is the most prestigious Grandes Ecoles. It was a great honor to learn from and receive advice from some of the brightest French minds, including Profs. Jean Dalibard, Alain Aspect, and Gerard Mourou. Besides studying mathematics and physics at the highest level, I played handball, learned Japanese, and completed basic military training. This led us to march on Champs Elysees on National Holiday on July 14th 2007.
The study of the Japanese language was motivated by a curiosity to explore how learning a new system of communicating information would affect my thought process. This brought me to develop a strong interest towards East Asian culture, especially Japanese history and culture. To improve my language skills, I spent a summer in a dairy farm on a small town north of Tokyo and a second summer at the Monju Fast Breeder reactor in Fukui prefecture. We have met a Japanese monk in a rural temple with an autographed picture from Richard Feynman. This was a very personal and cultural experience that provided me with new perspectives on life.
I joined the University of Tokyo as a Monbukagakusho scholar to complete a Master of Engineering in radiation protection. Besides studying reactor engineering, accelerator physics, radiation dosimetry and health physics, I participated in several experiments on environmental radioactivity measurement, neutron skyshine measurement, neutron irradiation of low-activation concrete, and calibration of medical linear accelerators. I also took part in a summer internship at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, to perform the analysis of a worldwide survey about the practice of radiation protection in interventional cardiology. It led me to gain a better understanding of the regulatory aspects related to the use of radiation for medical purposes.