The text below was first published yesterday as a Twitter thread yesterday.
Attentive followers might have picked a few hints. Time for a personal announcement. Thread.
I am leaving the University of Liverpool at the end of this month, starting as professor of physics at the University Sorbonne Paris Nord, joining @cspbat, a laboratory that is at the interface between chemistry/physics/biology.
It will be a deep dive – it comes with many personal and professional opportunities as well as serious challenges. I’ll document some of those as I go along, e.g. regarding the differences between research and teaching in France versus the UK… watch this space over the coming months if you are interested.
I am, and will remain, a French Scouser. I have lived in Liverpool for 18 years. I love the city, the culture, the parks, and the people. This very special place is where my children have been growing up, where two were born, where we have deep and decade-long friendships. My family home will still be there for some time.
The UK, its Research Councils and the University of Liverpool gave me wonderful opportunities and a top research environment. I have built my research career and international profile thanks to their support, thanks to my academic colleagues, and thanks to the PhD students and post-doctoral researchers who worked with me.
This supportive environment included protecting my academic freedom as I was engaging in scientific controversies, and more recently, as I joined Patricia Murray in her investigations of various scandals related to stem cells and trachea transplants. I know that in many other places I would have been silenced or fired. Thank you.
So, why am I leaving? Well, Brexit of course. I started surveying opportunities for jobs elsewhere after this fateful day of June 2016. But I did not do just that. I did not just resign myself to leaving a sinking ship.
With others, I founded @Liverpool4EU. I made new friends who like me refused to accept the disintegration of the UK and the undermining of democracy by liars, demagogues, ideologues and charlatans. Friends who were prepared to campaign for values of international solidarity and cooperation. I know they will continue the fight. Join them.
I love the UK but these four years hurt. There is the initial slap in the face and then there are the echoes, too numerous to count, from Theresa May queue jumpers to the current PM awful nationalist rhetoric.
I love Liverpool but the past two years hurt. This is the city that believes it is a beacon of antiracism but bullied 2 Jewish MPs out the Labour Party without its political leaders batting an eyelid. The city who elected, with ridiculously high percentages, MPs who could not even bring themselves to sign a declaration against antisemitism.
I am not naïve. At least I don’t think so. I know that racism and discrimination existed before Brexit. That they exist in France too. That the social and political trends that led to Brexit are a danger in France too. That higher education in France is no paradise.
I thank the USPN and CSPBAT for offering me this professorship. As a citizen, teacher and scientist I hope to be happier and more useful in France.
PS: this is what I wrote on the eve of the vote in 2016) “Come on England“