Volcanologist Sebastien Biass receives early career research award

Sébastien Biass, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, was honored by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) with the George Walker Medal.

The George Walker Award is given every two years to a young scientist up to seven years after acquiring a doctoral degree. The award recognizes achievements of a recent outstanding graduate in the fields of research encompassed by IAVCEI.

Sébastien Biass, post-doctoral researcher working with SOEST volcanologist Bruce Houghton, was honored for “achievements that are all deeply rooted in field studies and because of his unique appreciation with the importance of statistical and critical treatment of field data within the growing field of numerical modelling,” cited professor Costanza Bonadonna of the University of Geneva. “His unique approach, stems from combining thorough field studies with state-of-the-art numerical modeling, furthering both deposit characterization and the newly-born discipline of hazard and risk assessment that he is pioneering. What makes Sébastien unique in his science is his open mind and multidisciplinary approach, his scientific curiosity and enthusiasm and his dedication to going beyond his own limits.”

Biass commented “My vision of the IAVCEI George Walker Award for early career scientist is closely tied to my vision of scientific research, which contains three components. First, scientific curiosity is one of the greatest source of pleasure in life and provides the motivation to attempt understanding the unknown. Second, luck, in the selection of work colleagues, has been an integral part of my research. Specifically, Costanza Bonadonna and Bruce Houghton, both part of the UH family in either past or present, have shown me how working on interesting science with bright people is an invaluable source of satisfaction. Thirdly, I see research as having a global objective of the wellbeing of society, which in volcanology translates to a better understanding of the physics of hazardous processes occurring during eruptions in order to mitigate better the impacts on exposed communities. This award therefore represents a success on these three levels and belongs as much to everyone I have ever looked up to as it does to me. Having been picked amongst a long list of such successful young scientists humbles me and gives great motivation to pursue my scientific career.”

The award honors the memory of former UHM geology professor George Walker, whose discoveries pioneered a modern quantitative approach to physical volcanology and greatly accelerated understanding of volcanic processes.