Fanny Chevalier named to France's Order of Academic Palms

May 31, 2023 by Department of Computer Science

For Fanny Chevalier, name has become destiny.

The assistant professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Statistical Sciences, whose last name means “knight” in French, has been made a knight in the prestigious Order of Academic Palms (l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques), France’s national order recognizing exemplary services to education and culture.

The French decoration was originally established by Napoleon I in 1808 for eminent members of the Imperial University of France and is the oldest French honorary order of civil distinctions.

“I am profoundly honoured to be bestowed with the prestigious Order of Academic Palms from France and humbled to play a role in fostering and strengthening the relationship between France and Canada,” said Chevalier. “Grateful and inspired by this distinguished recognition, I accept this honour with deep gratitude. I am filled with excitement to become a Chevalier, will wear this title with pride, and look forward to contribute with dedication to the shared advancement of scientific knowledge, education and the deepening ties between our two nations.”

The medal was bestowed upon Chevalier at a recent ceremony by the Consul General of France in Toronto, Tudor Alexis.

From left to right:  Michael Evans , professor and chair of the Department of Statistical Sciences;  Fanny Chevalier ; and  Eyal de Lara , professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science.
From left to right: Michael Evans, professor and chair of the Department of Statistical Sciences; Fanny Chevalier; and Eyal de Lara, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Chevalier’s research lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction and information visualization. Her work delves into addressing the challenges involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of novel interactive tools supporting visual analytics and creative activities.

“Your academic work doesn’t sit in boxes or drawers; you are truly oriented toward putting it into practice,” Alexis said during the ceremony, citing Chevalier’s work that resulted in Autodesk Sketchbook Motion, awarded iPad App of the Year in 2016, and her recent contributions to improving patient care, with applications at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Tudor also discussed the strong scientific and academic ties between Canada and France and how Chevalier’s own experience and contributions embody the closeness between the two countries, as he presented her with the honorific distinction on behalf of the French Minister of National Education.

Chevalier studied computer science at the Université de Bordeaux, where she earned her MSc in 2004 and PhD in 2007. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Inria, OCAD University and the University of Toronto and worked as a research scientist at Inria for several years until 2017.

She joined the University of Toronto’s departments of computer science and statistical sciences as an assistant professor in 2018.

“I congratulate Fanny on this well-deserved honour,” said Eyal de Lara, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Her innovative research helps people around the world visualize complex data and empowers creative minds to produce their best work. We are proud of the significant impact she has made here at U of T and in the larger computer science community.”