Cryospheric Sciences

Cryoscientist life stories – an interview with our incoming deputy division president, Daniel Farinotti

A profile image of a white man with beard, shirt and pullover in front of a glacier landscape.

We would like to introduce Daniel Farinotti to you, our Cryosphere Division incoming deputy president, who will take over as division president from 2025-2027. For that, our Cryosphere Division outreach officer, Larissa van der Laan, interviewed Daniel at the EGU General Assembly in April 2024, to ask him a few questions about himself and his view of this exciting role within the EGU.

Larissa: Hi Daniel, nice to see you again! So, you’re our incoming deputy president, but for the people who might not know you: what are some important facts about yourself?

Daniel: Well, the CV in a nutshell is that I have a WSL (Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research) and an ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) affiliation, where I lead the Professorship of Glaciology. In the community, I’m known as a person that cares about mountain glaciers and their effects on water resources.

Larissa: How did you get started in glaciology?

Daniel: I’m tempted to think that most glaciologists got into glaciology because they like hanging around on glaciers. In the Swiss Alps, that is equivalent to stroll through mountains and go climbing. That’s how it started for me 😉

Larissa: Now you’re becoming an important part of the EGU team. What inspired you to do that?

Daniel: I really like the EGU as an organization, and the General Assembly is something that I find particularly great. It’s really the annual gathering of everyone who is involved in the field, who over time become colleagues and friends. I wanted to contribute to that!

Larissa: What’s your favorite thing about the assembly?

Daniel: It’s the easiness of connecting. I’m not sure how all the other divisions are, but I feel like the Cryosphere really is kind of a big family. And so, it’s just enjoyable to meet people that I typically don’t get to interact with during the year. Through projects, we interact with a subset of the community, and then each year they’re suddenly all here, so this is really great.

Also, I’m a part of the editorial team of The Cryosphere, which is one of EGU/Copernicus’ journals. Here, I like the way it is run, with its not-for-profit philosophy and the transparent decision processes. So I thought that if I were to invest my time somewhere, EGU would be a good place for spending it.

Larissa: I absolutely agree! As part of the ECS team, I feel similarly. Speaking of the ECS team, would you like to interact with the ECS activities as deputy president, or do you see them more as separate entities?

Daniel: There should absolutely be interaction! Many members of the ECS core team have been engaged with EGU positions longer than I have. Thus, I would be delighted to learn how I could be useful for the ECS team as such, or which needs there are to which I might be able to contribute. Similarly, if I feel like there is something that would be useful for the Cryosphere Division as a whole, I may well contact the ECS team for support!

Larissa: That sounds good, we would like to work closely with the rest of the division! More broadly, how do you see the role of the division president?

Daniel: In this new role, I see myself responsible in three main areas. The first is organizational. For the General Assembly, for example, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, such as the calls for session proposals or the consolidation of proposed sessions, but it doesn’t end there. All this work that needs to be done in the background is taken care of by the division presidents. Here, the less the work is perceived from the outside world, the better the job is done – ideally, the presidents keep everyone else’s back free.

The second area is related representation. I understand the presidents being the voices of their divisions. So whatever makes members of the Cryosphere community feel represented, no matter which discipline or which branch of the field it is, I will see it as my task to bring the corresponding matter forward – either to the higher entities or to where else it belongs. This is particularly true for matters that might not be satisfactory: I’m here to listen and to take any suggestion further.

The third area is related to EGU’s main goal: connecting people, and researchers in particular.

I’ll be happy with myself if I can contribute to providing a platform for good connection.

Larissa: Thank you for describing your vision to us! Next, as a large part of the Cryosphere Division consists of early career scientists, we would like to hear your opinion on our role. As someone who is further in their career, what is your advice for ECS in terms of volunteering time for community work, such as for the blog or organizing events?

Daniel: If you are interested in community work, begin earlier rather than later. The time at your disposal during your career will become smaller and smaller, and so, if you can, enjoy the time you can dedicate to the community whilst you have it. Also in terms of “strategy” and career planning, I would not underestimate the value of such work: the professional network one is going to establish would be difficult to build otherwise. Certainly one should be wise in how the time is spent, but these roles provide a visibility that is hard to obtain anywhere else.

Larissa: Is there something that you specifically hope to get out of your role as division president, for yourself, your career or learning?

Daniel: I definitely hope to grow my personal network, both with parts of the community I am less familiar with and with the higher EGU entities. That is what makes the role so attractive. As scientists, we are naturally curious and up for learning, and since this is a new task, I’m sure I will learn something!

Larissa: Daniel, thank you so much for your time today! We look forward to having you as our deputy president, alongside our president Carleen, and to hear more from you in the future. Ciao!

Further reading

Edited by Maria Scheel


Larissa van der Laan is a postdoc at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She is a glaciologist and science communicator, specialized in glacier modelling. Her current project focuses on atmospheric research, looking at the impact of Greenland ice sheet runoff on the North Atlantic Oscillation.

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