PhD positions in snow avalanche dynamics – SLF, Davos – ETH Zürich – EPF Lausanne

Project information

Your research is part of the SNSF funded project “The pulsing nature of powder snow avalanches”, and aims to unravel the origin of wave phenomena observed at the interface between the transitional and the dense basal layers of powder snow avalanches, to understand the factors controlling their development and, ultimately, to improve the assessment of avalanche pressure on obstacles to take into account the impulsive load these waves exert. This research has the potential to improve avalanche risk management in high mountain regions, as well as to be similarly relevant for granular flow and particle-laden gravity currents, such as pyroclastic flows, or turbidity currents.

PhD student in snow avalanche modeling

You will process and interpret existing data collected at the full-scale Vallée de la Sionne avalanche test site, use and further develop a model based on the Material Point Method and finite strain elastoplasticity which will serve as a numerical laboratory for data interpretation. The same model will then be further developed to study the interaction of avalanche pressure pulses and infrastructure. The project is in collaboration with international scientists and is highly interdisciplinary, and as such you will be working in a international team. Your work place will be the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos. The PhD thesis will be supervised by Dr. Betty Sovilla (SLF), Prof. Christophe Ancey (EPFL) and Prof. Johan Gaume (EPFL). The PhD degree will be awarded by EPFL.

You hold a Master degree in mechanics or physics and have experience with continuum numerical methods for solving partial differential equations such as the Finite Element Method, the Material Point Method and/or the Discrete Element Method. Knowledge on granular mechanics and computational plasticity is beneficial. You must be fluent in English. German knowledge is beneficial.

PhD student in snow avalanche engineering

You will process and interpret existing data collected at the full-scale Vallée de la Sionne avalanche test site, generate new methods to collect missing data, and interpret the experimental results also in combination with the experimental framework developed in New Zealand for pyroclastic flow research. The project is in collaboration with international scientists and is highly interdisciplinary, and as such you will be working in a international team. Your work place will be the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos. The PhD thesis will be supervised by Dr. Betty Sovilla (SLF) and Prof. Filippo Coletti (ETH Zurich). The PhD degree will be awarded by the ETH Zurich.

You hold a Master degree in mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, experimental physics or a related field. You have a background in fluid dynamics and knowledge on turbulent suspensions. Experience in image processing is beneficial. Previous experience in scripting languages (e.g. Python, IDL, Matlab, R) is indispensable. You have enthusiasm for field measurements and experience in high-alpine environments is desirable. You must be fluent in English. German knowledge is beneficial.

Additional information

Please send your complete application to Clemens Güdel, Human Resources SLF, by uploading the requested documents through our webpage: https://www.slf.ch/fr/a-propos-du-slf/emplois-et-carrieres.html. Applications via email will not be considered. Dr. Betty Sovilla, phone +41 (0)81 417 02 63, email betty.sovilla(at)slf.ch, will be happy to answer any questions or offer further information. The WSL strives to increase the proportion of women in its employment, which is why qualified women are particularly called upon to apply for this position.

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