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Professor Alexandre Buttler is retiring today

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Professor Alexandre Buttler, head of the WSL Lausanne site and former member of the WSL management, is retiring today. The WSL management would like to thank him for his outstanding work as a researcher, teacher, site leader, student and doctoral supervisor.


Alexandre Buttler received his degree in biology from the University of Neuchâtel and achieved the doctorate in plant ecology in 1987. He has subsequently worked on postdoctoral projects at Queen Mary College of University of London and at the Land Resouce Research Center of Agriculture Canada. He was then appointed full professor by the Université de Franche-Comté in 1998. In 1999, Alexandre Buttler joined the WSL with the task of scientifically strengthening its outpost in Lausanne, which had previously focused primarily on practice-oriented projects. In 2003, WSL and EPFL established the joint Laboratory of Ecological Systems - ECOS. Alexandre Buttler became EPFL Professor in 2004 and took over the management of the new unit. In 2006, WSL appointed him a member of the management and site manager of WSL Lausanne. Further visiting professorships were later awarded by the universities of Berkeley (California), Poznan (Poland) and Boulder (Colorado).


In his research, Prof. Buttler was particularly interested in how vegetation interacts with the soil and its living organisms and how these relationships could change in a warmer and drier climate. His experiments in the Vaud Jura, for example, became well visible to the population: there, together with his team, he transplanted woody pasture vegetation and young trees, including the soil in which they stood, from cold locations on the Col du Marchairuz to different deeper locations in order to simulate climate change.

The Jura region was the ideal location for many more of his experiments and observations, from wooded pastures and peat bogs to the effects of drought on pastures. His broad interests also brought him to Madagascar, where he conducted research projects on slash-and-burn agriculture, and to Colombia and Cameroon, where he dealt with soil sustainability in oil palm plantations. Prof. Buttler was strongly involved in the supervision of students and doctoral students. With great dedication and attention, he accompanied many of them into the early stages of a scientific career.

Students appreciated his courses in terrestrial ecology, ecosystem management and multivariate statistics at the Bachelor and Master level, while colleagues of other institutes strongly estimated his interdisciplinary approach.


In addition to his membership in renowned committees and over 150 scientific publications in international journals (see website), Alexandre Buttler also leaves a smile on the face of his WSL colleagues. The deputy director of WSL, Christoph Hegg, says about him: "Alexandre has shown us that even the most precise scientific research can be combined with wit and charm".

Prof. Buttler will hold his public farewell lecture on November 27, 2019 at EPFL. The title is “Scientific journey of an ecologist: between basic and applied research”.

The WSL would like to thank Alexandre Buttler and wishes him all the best for the next stage of his life!