08.07.2019 | Rebecca Buchmüller | News SLF
Andrin Caviezel studied applied physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and has been working at SLF for three years. His spectacular experiments on a mountainside test site are deepening our understanding of rockfalls and helping to develop practical tools for engineers.
Andrin, congratulations on your award from the Canton of Graubünden! How does it feel to have won?
My first reaction was surprise, but then of course I felt very happy and honoured.
You're the only scientist among seven winners of awards for emerging young talents. Does that make it feel even more special?
I'm truly delighted to win the award as a scientist, alongside such high-calibre creative young people from other disciplines. This shows that the Canton of Graubünden also monitors and genuinely appreciates work done by scientists.
What makes your research so fascinating?
One fascinating aspect of research into rockfalls, especially the experiments we've been conducting on them in Davos for over three years now, is the power they unleash, which is clear to see. Another captivating aspect for me is that the applied physics research carried out in a mountainous landscape can actually help to prevent natural hazards. The data we gather flow directly into the further development and refinement of RAMMS::ROCKFALL, a program that simulates rockfalls and is already being used by engineering firms.
What benefits will your research bring 20 years from now?
Our medium-term goal is to gain a better understanding of rockfall processes and use it to further optimise RAMMS. In the long term, our aim is to establish the tool as the standard for 3D rockfall simulation. We're particularly interested in how falling rocks behave when encountering dams, forests and also rockfall nets. Ideally, the knowledge gained from this will flow into planning optimally precise and maximally economical protective measures. Our prime objective is to produce research-based solutions that can be applied in the near future.
Over the next 20 years, the clear goal is to develop a broadly based, wider understanding of the risk of rockfall hazards in alpine terrain to give practitioners precise and efficient tools to use in their everyday work.
What will you do with your prize money?
According to our garage, 'Blue Lightning', as we call our light-blue Fiat panda, is no longer really roadworthy. So some of the money will definitely be spent on a suitable replacement. The rest, somewhat boringly, will find its way into pension and investment schemes and cryptocurrencies.