The Adrien Guébhard-Séverine prize is awarded for an outstanding PhD thesis in the field of hydrogeology or geothermal energy. 

The Adrien Guébhard-Séverine prize is awarded annually or every two years by the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland to a student who has completed a PhD thesis in the field of hydrogeology or geothermal energy. The prize honours the memory of Dr. Adrien Guébhard-Séverine (1849-1924), a native of Neuchâtel and an associate professor of physics at the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, France, as well as a geologist and prehistorian.

This year, the prize was awarded to Dan-Thuy Lam for her doctoral thesis entitled: 'Conditioning groundwater flow parameters with iterative ensemble smoothers: analysis and approaches in the continuous and the discrete cases', and to the MRI's very own Scientific Project Officer James Thornton for his doctoral thesis entitled: 'Fully-integrated hydrological modeling in steep, snow-dominated, geologically complex Alpine terrain.'

James Thornton profile picDr. James Thornton, MRI Scientific Project OfficerThornton joined the MRI Coordination Office earlier this year as MRI Scientific Project Officer for GEO Mountains, a GEO Work Programme Initiative that seeks to identify, collate, and make accessible transboundary and inter- and transdisciplinary data and information pertaining to environmental, ecological, and societal change in mountainous regions globally.

His research PhD thesis sought to evaluate the capabilities of a more sophisticated class of hydrological model – namely fully-integrated surface-subsurface models – in complex Alpine terrain, where they had never previously been applied.

Reflecting on how his PhD research will feed into his work for the MRI, Thornton said: "The experience of working with various techniques and across traditional disciplinary boundaries I gained through this research should, along with my previous education and employment, should stand me in good stead for my new role with the MRI. I am likewise confident that by bringing together the observational capacities of a diverse range of global organisations to provide more and higher quality data in remote mountainous areas through initiatives such as GEO Mountains, the capacities of the latest computational tools can be leveraged more fully across both disciplines and geographies, ultimately leading to improved predictions and management decisions."

The MRI Coordination Office would like to take this opportunity to offer sincere congratulation to James on his achievements! 

b2ap3 large James Thornton blog cover phot 20200514 062538 1Read more: Tackling “the Ultimate Challenge” in Greater Depth

Hydrological models are key parts of the simulation chain that is routinely employed to generate predictions of future water availability in mountainous areas. Three decades ago, developing reliable models of mountainous hydrological systems was described as “the ultimate challenge” (Klemes, 1990). Whilst many important advancements have been made in the intervening period, notably in terms of remote sensing technologies and computational power, the assessment continues to apply in certain respects. In this blog post written by MRI Scientific Project Officer James Thornton, a few specific outstanding challenges are initially highlighted. Thornton then outlines some of his own recent research, undertaken as part of his PhD thesis with the intention of helping to improve our collective hydrological simulation capabilities in complex mountainous terrain.

 Cover image by Christophe Schindler.

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