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Biography: Michel Olagnon

I got an engineering education at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris (72-75) supplemented with ocean engineering at Ensta (75-77). Ever since, I have been working as a researcher at the French Institute for Marine Research, mainly on extreme environmental conditions and reliability of offshore structures. I participate in various international committees, and I organized the Rogue Waves 2000 and 2004 workshops with worldwide attendance. I like to keep my mind open to other topics, I came to friendship with a few good statisticians when working on fatigue of materials, and was lucky enough to attract their attention to ocean waves and sea state processes. I wrote only one book, in French, about the Fortran 90 programming language. By the way, I also maintained for many years the internet FAQ for Fortran. My programming skills (I read that you are interested in people with programming skills!) led me to help colleagues, especially those working on seismic surveys, and to enjoy applying new ideas with them in their work, for instance when they try to show that an actual flooding of the Black Sea by an opening of the Bosphor was at the source of many a myth.

As for stocks, I am not a trader, but thanks to my personal investments, I can afford to remain in a poorly paid research position working on things that I like, instead of polishing my boss for a raise. I started early: in 74, with 2 other friends, we climbed the fence of Ecole Polytechnique (it has the status of a military academy) while the watchman was looking the other way to buy a small flat at a ski resort in the Alps with the money of our student loans. About 10 years later, when I had bought back the others' shares of the flat, I started to invest about 1 month salary per year into stocks. Though I ceased to put in fresh money after 10 more years, I now own about 12-15 years of salary in equity and I can relax about my standard of living when I retire.

Most of my best ideas came to me when I was jogging on the footpath overhanging the sea, and when I was younger I ran about every distance from 110m hurdles (18s) to marathon (3:20). I am much slower now, but I hope that my mind is still quick enough for most purposes.