GM
Geomorphology

Geomorphology

50% Professorship = More time for family and science

50% Professorship = More time for family and science

Annegret Larsen had the fantastic idea to encourage her colleague Pascal Egli, both from the University of Lausanne, to explore the nature of a shared professorship. Pascal took the chance and interviewed Professor Martin Hoelzle  at the Swiss Geoscience meeting in November 2017. Professor Martin Hoelzle is a Geomorphologist/Glaciologist at University of Fribourg (Switzerland). He is also one of very few Professors that share a job, over both of which he speaks in the following interview.

  • – edited by Annegret Larsen, interviewed and written by Pascal Egli, UNIL –

At the Swiss Geoscience Meeting, 18.11.2017, 12:28

Could you tell me what you are most interested in?

I am interested in the physical processes between the atmosphere and the alpine environment. My specialization is the alpine cryosphere, including both glaciers and permafrost.

I have been working in this area more than 25 years. I am mostly interested in the effects of the processes connecting the atmosphere and the cryosphere. This is especially interesting in the context of climate change, where we currently can observe very fast changes in the cryosphere, mainly induced by the atmospheric warming. The effects of this atmospheric warming, which is in high mountain and polar areas already much stronger than elsewhere, influences the high alpine environment with its very sensitive reacting cryospheric variables like snow, glaciers and permafrost strongly. The caused changes within the alpin cryospheric environment are then often are related to mass movements, thus also natural hazards. However, I would not consider myself a natural hazards specialist. I am mostly interested in the processes leading to these mass movements.

– so, for example also ‘rapid glacier retreat’ ?

Exactly, that’s why one of my core competences are long-term observations. Be it in the domain of permafrost or glaciers. Because I think that long-term observations help us also to understand better the physical relationships between the atmosphere and the cryospheric variables. Sometimes, we understand that there are new feedbacks and faster processes that we could not recognize or understand before. That’s why I think that the long-term measurements, especially in situ measurements, are still very important. With the help of these measurements, we are able to make better model based simulations for the future. A smart combination of in situ measurements with remote sensing and numerical models is the best way to reduce uncertainties. In general, I am therefore one of the clear defenders of in situ measurements within long-term monitoring strategies.

Now let us leave the science aside for a moment and talk about how you organize your work life. So you do job sharing ?

Yes, I am sharing my position with Christian Hauck since 2008. We applied for this position together. This was not very easy in the beginning because it was not even clear for the university if this type of candidacy was legal. Therefore, they first had to clarify with the Canton if such a job sharing on professor level was acceptable by law. The case was treated by the state council, who approved the request. Then, they invited us for an interview and we were lucky that they engaged us. Since then, we are working together like that – since 10 years. I am very happy with this, and Christian as well. We are still convinced that it is a good model. We would not say that it is the best model or that everyone should work like this. But we like it.

So, how do you share the work ?

From a scientific point of view we are specialized in different areas ; Christian does mainly geophysics and also soil properties in permafrost areas. And I am more specialized in surface processes on glaciers and permafrost.

Are there any negative sides of this model ?

You need a good communication. We need to get along very well from a personal point of view. And we are both very convinced by the model. There are many advantages with this model: Together, we cover a larger field of science. And if it comes to decision-making, we always have a partner at the same level to discuss the issue with. This gives you a certain safety and a different point of view. It is very positive.

What do you do besides the job ?

I have realized for myself that I need a very good work-life balance. Maybe I am a bit less stress resistant than other people. That means that I need a counter-balance to work. I practise a lot of sports and I invest time in my family. Now, my children are grown-up. But Christian’s kids are still younger, so it is very useful for him to handle it like this. That means that he also does a ‘job-sharing’ with his partner, like me, too. Both partners also work part-time. So it’s like a double job-sharing. The work-life balance is very good, and it is very satisfying.

– edited by Annegret Larsen, interviewed and written by Pascal Egli, UNIL –

If you are interested in more information on the topic have a look at these articles French and German articles that were published about the shared professorship in Fribourg.

Science et temps partiel? (French)

Conjuguer famille et travail au masculin (French)

Zwei halbe Professoren ist mehr als ein ganzer (German)

Teilzeit und Wissenschaft? (German)

 

Theoretical Geomorphology: Selling a seemingly boring topic

Theoretical Geomorphology: Selling a seemingly boring topic

Anne Voigtländer (TUM Munich) presented her poster at the EGU 2017 and attracted quite some attention. She drew everything per hand and besides chocolate bars and smiling mountains she touched some very interesting topics. Have a look and get inspired!

– written by Anne Voigtländer (TUM Munich) –

Have you ever tried to sell a text on theoretical geomorphology to students? Or even to your fellow scientists? Why is it a seemingly hard and boring topic? Well, reading a paper on theoretical geomorphology is seldom thrilling and you nearly never go about telling everybody about it – unless it has a sexy name like “badass geomorphology”. Even though it might be hard to digest, we base and structure our research, implicitly or explicitly, on those concepts, assumptions and rules/model perception. So why is it so unsexy to talk about theoretical geomorphology? One reason could be that abstract terms are used to describe even more abstract assumptions, i.e. “landscape sensitivity”, “barrier to change”, which suggest how we can discern and interpret processes, forms and interrelations. Hence they leave us with many vague terms and still no really good impression on what it is about, and more important, why the underlying theoretical assumptions matter. And isn’t the overall goal of presenting posters and writing articles, on whatever the topic might be, to be thought provoking?

Could theoretical geomorphology be, theoretically speaking, made sexy?

With my EGU 2017 poster (EGU2017-16469) I tried to tread off the traditional path overcoming some of the aforementioned issues, by focusing on apprehensive and playful graphics to explain theoretical thoughts on geomorphology. In geomorphology we already employ a figurative, formative and illustrative language and topics, so I decided to try out a comic strip-style to introduce and combine two theoretical concepts, namely subcritical crack growth and tectonic predesign. Both concepts touch on fundamental assumptions of driving (processes) and resisting (material) forces promoting fractures, landforms and landscapes without great force. I tried to use real world examples, like breaking a bar of chocolate, where you exploit the grooves to focus stresses. This then allows very little force to initiate and propagate a fracture through the chocolate or bedrock. By placing such images in your mind the theoretical part might be even sweet.

Communication of research and science, and with it the theoretical concepts we base it on, is essential. The abstract terms and academic mystification can act as barriers, which might hinder exchange and integration of our theoretical assumptions. But I am positive that we can change it.

– written by Anne Voigtländer (TUM Munich) –

Getting to know the GM presidency candidates: #2 Jens Turowski

During the EGU Election Autumn 2017, all EGU members are asked to give their vote for the next EGU Union President, General Secretary and the Division Presidents until 30 November 2017. The Geomorphology division is in the luxurious situation of having three candidates for division presidency, all of which gathered experience as active members of the EGU GM division structure.

In order to get to know the candidates a little better, the early career representatives of the GM division (Annegret Larsen and Micha Dietze) have asked the candidates a few questions from a ECS perspective. Below, we post the answers given by candidate #2, Jens Turowski.

Candidate #2

Name: Jens Martin Turowski

Webpage: http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/en/section/geomorphology/staff/profil/jens-turowski/

Twitter: @JMTurowski

ECS: What is your field of research (three points maximum)

Jens Turowski: I strive to develop and improve conceptual and mathematical models of physical processes acting at the Earth’s surface using high-quality field data. My previous research has focused on mountain channels (bedload transport, fluvial bedrock erosion, channel morphology, role of organic matter), but I have been / I am also working on debris flows, rockfall-dominated landscapes and rocky coastlines. One of my special interest is the development and improvement of field techniques.

Why do you want to run for president?

One of the great things about geomorphology is that it is highly interdisciplinary. The division president has the privilege to directly liaise with the many divisions that thematically overlap with GM. I hope that I can build stronger ties to other disciplines that benefit both the geomorphology community and other disciplines.

What is the first thing you will change once elected president?

I believe that many of the services that the GM division currently offers run quite well and do not need major changes. I would like to improve the division web site to make it a better (-used) resource for the community and there are aspects of the OSPP competition that I am not happy about. Big challenges for the division lie in the connections to other scientific organizations that also represent geomorphology and with other divisions within EGU.

What is your view on the role of early career scientists within the EGU GM division?

Scientific organizations like the EGU often provide the first opportunities for young scientist to obtain leadership experience. Organizing sessions for the EGU General Assembly was my first step to getting involved in community service and into building a professional network beyond my immediate collaborators. I believe that both the GM division will profit from the involvement of young scientists and vice versa. I hope that I can include many young scientists in the GM program committee over the next few years.

I also see the EGU, and in particular the GM division, as a means to provide support to young scientists, for example by providing training opportunities. The EGU supports young scientist’s workshops and training schools that have benefitted me and hopefully many others. The OSPP poster competition is a valuable tool to highlight excellent research and help talented young scientists at the start of their career.

Last but not least: a network of peers in a similar situation, both professionally and personally, can help through difficult situations during a doctorate or post-doctoral studies and can open opportunities for research.

How will you safeguard diversity and inclusiveness within the EGU GM division?

Diversity and inclusiveness become more and more important, both within science and outside. I believe the GM division or the EGU as a whole can take action in two main areas: 1) providing a secure environment for research and communication, and 2) highlighting role models. I can think of several actions for point 1). For example, I would like to explore a kind of secure app with the EGU – if someone is in a threatening situation or faces harassment, let’s say during a poster discussion, support can be called via an app and a dedicated person comes along to help to diffuse the situation. Concerning role models, in the past we have for example strived to solicit female speakers in the ‘Meet the Master’ workshop. These efforts should be intensified.

Getting to know the GM presidency candidates: #1 Dan Parsons

During the EGU Election Autumn 2017, all EGU members are asked to give their vote for the next EGU Union President, General Secretary and the Division Presidents until 30 November 2017. The Geomorphology division is in the luxurious situation of having three candidates for division presidency, all of which gathered experience as active members of the EGU GM division structure.

In order to get to know the candidates a little better, the early career representatives of the GM division (Annegret Larsen and Micha Dietze) have asked the candidates a few questions from a ECS perspective. Below, we post the answers given by candidate #1, Dan Parsons.

Candidate #1

Name: Dan Parsons

Webpage: http://www.hull.ac.uk/Faculties/staff-profiles/Professor-Daniel-Parsons.aspx

Twitter: @bedform

ECS: What is your field of research (three poitns maximum)

Dan Parsons: Geomorphology, Sediment transport, Morphodynamics

Why do you want to run for president?

I am thoroughly enjoying my time as a Division Science Officer within EGU and helping to set the objectives and direction of the GM and SSP divisions, and contributing to the shape of the EGU General Assembly each April over the past few years. I have also enjoyed being part of the ESurf team of associate editors – seeing the journal grow and evolve within the community has been very rewarding.

GM interfaces and interacts with almost all Divisions within EGU, with a high number of co-organized sessions across the general meeting being a visible outcome – this creates challenges but also significant opportunities. Sustaining the volume, breadth and quality of contributions to the GA within GM, taking advantage of other opportunities to bring people together in smaller meetings with leveraged EGU support (e.g. Galileo Meetings) – and thus confirming EGU in a position at the forefront of geomorphological science globally, is what I would like to ensure over the coming years as Division President. However, we need to also safeguard that the General Assembly does not become too bland and that smaller cutting-edge interdisciplinary areas are not lost in a growing meeting – retaining this distinctness is key and something I am passionate about.

Overall, I have benefited enormously from the networking opportunities EGU has created for me early in my career and I would like to serve, you the community, and give something back to the through my energy and leadership experience in the role of Division President.

What is the first thing you will change once elected president?

The Presidency of the GM division is an exciting challenge and is a position I would be honoured to serve. My aims in role would be to ensure that we continue to now evolve a new and open strategy around maintaining GM distinctiveness within broader EGU interactions, safeguarding a focus on serving Early Career Researchers and retain and build on an open and transparent leadership of the community.

In essence I feel that we need a strategy on what we want the GM division to look like in 5 years from now as EGU continues to evolve – and as such we need to decide as a community what actions we need to shape this strategy and direction.

This is something I would look to build and develop community consensus around in the role as President-elect so that we have a clearer decision base and response pathway. Additionally, and as part of developing this strategy I think there is a need to enhance our communications across the division. This has been much improved over the past few years, but we can do more. As such I would look to instil a more regular communication bulletin across GM and look to utilise a range of platforms, such as the use of notifications and social media, in delivering this enhanced communication.

What is your view on the role of early career scientists within the EGU GM division?

ECR’s are the engine of the division and EGU more generally. The General Assembly is, in my mind, to a large degree, an ECR meeting. As such the strategic direction of the General Assembly, the Division and the EGU more generally needs to be driven by the needs and desires of the ECR community. I am proud of the number of sessions organised and led by ECR’s within GM at the EGU GA – this is something I have championed in my Science Officer role over the past few years. The networking and profile building opportunities that the EGU GA offers is a valuable outcome of EGU as a whole. Embedding ECR’s and fora into the evolution of an enhanced GM strategy and decision base will be a key outcome should I be elected. We have made good advances in facilitating the building of an active, diverse and welcoming ECR community – one that we are rightly proud of as a broader community. We need to cherish and build on this to ensure that we have an environment that serves the ECR community and the symbiotic relationship between the ECR community and EGU as a whole thrives.

How will you safeguard diversity and inclusiveness within the EGU GM division?

Although great strides have been made, I think there needs to be enhanced openness around the issues of diversity and inclusivity at EGU and within the GM Division. Progress is best achieved through improved visibility of our gender and other diversity imbalances – and exposing such biases and discussing them openly is critical to making headway on such issues. This includes open discussion and enhanced communication, around the membership, of committees and award nomination statistics and the way in which we organise calls for positions and nominations, such that an improved balance, more in keeping with our membership’s diversity, can be achieved. This cannot be achieved overnight but the development of the enhanced strategy discussed above, which has these issues forefront within and embedded into the vision, are major steps to achieving parity across the division and EGU more generally.