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New CERC professorship: Alpine Mass Movements

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The Climate Change, Extremes and Natural Hazards in Alpine Regions Research Centre CERC, based at theSLF, has a new professor: on 14 July 2022, the ETH Board appointed Johan Gaume as Associate Professor of Alpine Mass Movements. The professorship is shared between the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and ETH Zurich.


Johan Gaume (born in 1985) studied mechanical engineering and gained his PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Université Grenoble Alpes. Since 2019, he has been Assistant Professor and Head of the Snow and Avalanche Simulation Laboratory (SLAB) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). Gaume researches the initiation and propagation of gravitational mass movements, with a particular focus on snow and avalanche mechanics. As well as snow avalanches, he uses computer models to simulate other alpine mass movements such as rockfall and glacier collapse, and the concatenation of such processes.

Gaume already has a considerable number of publications to his name. In addition, he received a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Ambizione scholarship in 2015, an SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship in 2018 and an SNSF Spark Award in 2020.

Gaume's new position is a joint professorship between ETH Zurich (Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, where he will be part of the SLF's new research centre CERC, meaning that he will be based in Davos. His appointment is an ideal way for ETH and WSL to forge closer ties between the research areas of natural hazards, geomechanics and numerical modelling. Gaume, too, is hoping that this will create synergies: "In cooperation with the various research institutes, I'd like to set up an internationally recognised team at the CERC with expertise in alpine mass movements." Knowledge transfer is also a priority for the new professor: "It's important to me that our basic research feeds into practical applications as well, whether through the development of hazard assessment tools and software or through the training of professionals."