Meet the IMPREX early career scientists

IMPREX Early Career Scientists

The IMPREX early career scientists (ECS) held the stage for the first time at the IMPREX General Assembly (GA) in Crete on 26-28 September 2016, which marked the kick-off of the second year of the project (for more information on the outcomes of the GA, click here).

The IMPREX Horizon 2020 project currently counts 18 ECS (PhD candidates, postdocs and researchers who recently obtained a PhD), coming from 14 universities and institutes across Europe (see map above).

During the last day of the Crete GA, a scientific coffee was organised, during which we had the chance to present our research topics in just a few minutes to the larger IMPREX audience. The result was a very enthusiastic session highlighting the variety of topics and water sectors the ECS are involved in. The topics range from real-time to seasonal forecasting and impacts of climate change. Modelling approaches are also diverse and include statistical, deterministic and ensemble forecasts techniques; spanning the entire forecasting chain, from the meteorology to the hydrology through to the users of the forecasts for applications of the water sector (e.g., flood and drought prediction, navigation, hydropower). 

The presentations have shown that there is a lot of overlap, as well as a lot to share and discuss. This is why we came up with the idea, during the Crete GA, to start an ECS blog, where we will be sharing our ‘young and fresh’ views on developments in our research fields, IMPREX and the (scientific) world, during the lifetime of this project.


Stay tuned for new blog posts!



 Gabriela Guimarães NobreGabriela Guimarães Nobre, IVM, VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam

 'My PhD research aims at assessing the role of climate variability in flood and drought risks.'






 Louise ArnalLouise Arnal, University of Reading and ECMWH, Reading

'My PhD focuses on identifying the dominant sources of uncertainty to improve seasonal streamflow forecasting over Europe'






Jess Neumann Jess Neumann, University of Reading, Reading

'My postdoc is looking at how well seasonal forecasts can predict compound flood events in the Thames River basin.'  






Emma Aalbers Emma Aalbers, KNMI, de Bilt; IVM, VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam

'My PhD research is centred around Future Weather, in which we investigate how meteorological events with severe hydrological impact (floods, droughts) change under future (climate) conditions.'





Manon Cassagnole Manon Cassagnole, IRSTEA, Antony, Paris

'The purpose of my PhD is to look into the links between the quality of hydrological forecasts and their economic value for hydroelectric management.'





  Matteo GiulianiDr Matteo Giuliani, Politecnico di Milano, Milan

'My primary research topics include: many-objective optimisation for water resources management, robust decision making and agent-based water resources management.'





Dennis Meissner Dennis Meissner, BfG, Koblenz

‘My focus in IMPREX is on the improvement of existing and the development of new hydrological forecasting products for inland waterway transport.’






 Hector Macian-Sorribes Hector Macian-Sorribes, Universitat Politècnica de València, València

‘I would really want to make a difference in changing society's perspective on climate change and water management, because we will need that.’






Jakob Luchner Jakob Luchner,Politecnico di Milano, Milan

‘I am pursuing a PhD at Politecnico di Milano in the field of multi-objective robust real-time control of water resources systems.’






Yu Li Yu Li, Politecnico di Milano, Milan

‘My research interest focuses on the coupled human-water system modeling and analysis under climate change.’






Alberto de Tomas Alberto de Tomas, FutureWater Cartagena, Murcia

‘As an environmentalist, next to working on climate change adaptation, my goal is to  raise awareness of the consequences of climate change and get people involved.’





Bart van Osnabrugge Bart van Osnabrugge, Deltares, Delft; Wageningen University, Wageningen

‘For my PhD research I am studying the intricate workings of operational hydrological forecasting models and data assimilation techniques.’






To help you to get to know us better you can find our full profiles below. And, because IMPREX is all about the impact of extreme events, we all answered the following question:

What is the first extreme hydro-meteorological event that you can remember?



Gabriela GuimarãesGabriela Guimarães NobreIVM, VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam

'The most impressive (and coolest) meteorological event I ever experienced was an extreme monsoon rainfall in Thailand inside of a long tail boat in the middle of the Andaman Sea.'

 My PhD research aims at assessing the role of climate variability in flood and drought risks. Our main motivation to further investigate these topics is due to the fact that climate variability drives extreme climatological and hydro-meteorological events, which can result in weather-related disasters. However, some indices of climate variability can be forecasted with varying levels of skill and lead times. Therefore, we assess the relationships between climate variability and flood and drought risk indicators.

In regions where the indices of climate variability show strong relationships with flood and drought indicators, seasonal risk outlooks could potentially be developed based on predicted values of the indices of climate variability. I am based at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and my research is supervised by Dr. Philip Ward and Dr. Jeroen Aerts.


Louise ArnalLouise ArnalUniversity of Reading and ECMWH, Reading

'The most impressive extreme hydro-meteorological event I remember is cyclone Erica that hit New-Caledonia (where I was living then) in 2003. I was 12 years old and found the big waves really cool when going swimming in the sea the day before the cyclone hit us. When the alert was given, we all went to my sister’s room (the room with less windows in the house) and sat in the dark with candles, the radio to stay updated on the state of the cyclone and lots of snacks the whole afternoon.'

I was born in France but moved around with my family since I was 4, and decided to keep on moving for my studies and work. I did a BSc in Earth Sciences in Paris (at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie [UPMC]), at the end of which I decided to focus on a topic of importance for the future: water. So I moved to Amsterdam for two years to do an MSc in Hydrology at the Vrije Universiteit (VU). As part of my MSc, I did a six-month internship at Deltares and IRSTEA to work on an intercomparison of flood forecasting models for the Meuse River basin. This is when I realised that flood forecasting was what I wanted to work on. I was thus glad to be offered a job at the ECMWF in the EFAS (European Flood Awareness System) team to work on seasonal hydrological forecasting over Europe.

I am now doing a PhD at the University of Reading and ECMWF on the same topic, under the supervision of Prof. Hannah Cloke and Dr. Elisabeth Stephens. My PhD focuses on identifying the dominant sources of uncertainty to improve seasonal streamflow forecasting over Europe. Within IMPREX I am working on WP4.2, for which I am analysing the sensitivity of pan-European seasonal hydrological forecasting to changes in precipitation, and WP6a, a sectoral survey on compound flood events prediction and risk assessment.


 Jess NeumannJess NeumannUniversity of Reading, Reading

'For me the earliest extreme event I remember was the UK floods in autumn 2000 (wettest since records began). I was 14 years old and our school in Sussex runs next to a river, essentially cutting the school off from the rest of the town (where most of us lived). We had to be ferried through the flood waters by the emergency services - clearly this was of great excitement to a bunch of teenage school children! A large number of properties were flooded and although we have had more serious events in the UK since, I think this was key to me as it affected me and my family personally.'

I am principally a landscape ecologist / geographer, with a particular interest in GIS, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. I am now stepping into the world of hydrology and seasonal forecasting of flood events in the Thames basin, UK. My goal is to embrace learning in different fields of research and to understand the links between them.

My postdoc is looking at how well seasonal forecasts can predict compound (river and groundwater) flood events in the Thames basin, UK.


Emma AalbersEmma AalbersKNMI, de Bilt; IVM, VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam

'The first extreme event I remember happened quite some time ago. It was early summer and I was playing outside with a friend when suddenly the sky went all dark. We rushed home, by bike, and the wind started to blow stronger and stronger. And then these white things were (what looked like) whirling through the streets. At first I thought it was blossom blown out of the trees, then I thought they were pieces of Styrofoam, but when the first pieces hit us it appeared to be tennis ball big hailstones. Not even close to home we dove under some bushes and hid there until the storm was over. When it was over, we finally cycled home, through streets covered with hailstones and along houses and cars with broken windows and dented bonnets.'

I started studying Civil Engineering (Delft University of Technology) with the idea to either become an engineer designing bridges or to become an irrigation specialist in developing countries. During my BSc I started focussing on water resources management and (geo)hydrology, driven by an interest to understand the natural world, and I continued with that during my MSc. Graduating on evaporation modelling in catchment hydrology, I realised how nice it would be to understand more about atmospheric processes as well, as hydrological and atmospheric processes are so much intertwined. So that is what I am doing now: PhD research at KNMI and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, on Future Weather, supervised by Geert Lenderink and Bart van den Hurk.

In short, we look at meteorological events with (extreme) hydrological impact and analyse how these events change under a changing climate. I started my research with firstly looking into the change in precipitation with global warming at scales relevant for hydrological applications in Europe. We especially looked into the role of internal variability in the detection of the climate change signal and in the predictability of the future climate. The coming years I will focus on specific cases (compound flood events, droughts, heavy precipitation) in several case study areas in IMPREX.


Manon CassagnoleManon CassagnoleIRSTEA, Antony, Paris

'When I was 6, there was an important storm in France. It was during a night of Christmas holidays. I was peacefully sleeping all night. Then when I woke up in the morning, I saw my parents really stressed. They told me that a big storm had destroyed many houses and many trees had fallen down on the roads. When we came back home in Paris, our neighbour's flat was flooded. Their roof was partially destroyed by the storm.'

I am a 24 year old PhD student in France. I got a Bachelor’s degree in geology from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. After that, I studied environmental science at the same university for two years. More precisely, my Master's degree specialty was in hydrogeology/hydrology.

I started my PhD at IRSTEA in November 2016 on the same topic as my Master’s internship, which I also did at IRSTEA. The purpose is to look into the links between the quality of hydrological forecasts and their economic value, in the case of hydroelectric management (WP8 “Hydropower”). Maria-Helena Ramos and Guillaume Thirel are my supervisors.


Matteo GiulianiDr Matteo GiulianiPolitecnico di Milano, Milan

'The most impressive extreme hydro-meteorological event I remember was a strong hailstorm a few years ago. The dimension of the hailstones was impressive and most of the garden in my house was fully covered by these hailstones, becoming basically white.'

My research activity deals with the integrated and participatory planning and management of water resources through the development and application of novel methodologies and tools in complex environmental systems, characterised by the presence of multiple decision makers and many conflicting stakeholders. My primary research topics include: many-objective optimisation for water resources management, robust decision making, especially under global change, and agent-based water resources management.


Dennis Meissner Dennis Meissner, BfG, Koblenz

'My first extreme hydro-meteorological event I remember was in 1999 (around Whitsuntide). Coming home from a track meet (due to the heavy rain a swimming competition would have been more appropriate), I had to pass a small town situated in an unimposing depression in order to take one of my teammates home. It wasn’t until I tried to leave the village that I recognised the numerous vehicles from the fire brigade and the Agency for Technical Relief: the village was hit by a flash flood and the small river crossing the town jumped its banks. The road I used some minutes before (the only connection to the outside world) was flooded now. So sitting in my car (with dry feet!), listening 5 to 6 times to G N’ R November Rain (although it was May), I marvelled at my first hydro-meteorological extreme…'

I studied civil engineering at the Leibniz University Hannover / Germany, with the focus on hydrology and hydraulic engineering / coastal engineering.  Since the end of 2003, I am working at the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG), located in Koblenz; within the first years here at BfG my focus was on hydrodynamic modelling. Since the end of 2007, I am working in the department responsible for the development and maintenance of the navigation-related forecasting systems in Germany. Since that time, I am also part of BfG's operational forecasting team.

Within IMPREX I am working together with Bastian Klein (BfG) and the colleagues from GERICS mainly on WP9 ('Sectoral survey transport') and on WP4 ('Improved predictability of hydrological extremes'). My focus is on the improvement (e.g., switch from deterministic to probabilistic forecasts) of existing and the development of new (lead times up to the seasonal scale) forecasting products for inland waterway transport. My main objective is to link developments / improvements as close as possible to our operational systems (in the best of cases, we could already bring parts of IMPREX outputs into operational practice).

Parallel to my work at BfG, I am trying to work on my PhD; originally my focus was integrative process-oriented modelling of meso-scale catchments by different coupling strategies of hydrological and 2D hydrodynamic models. As my job-related focus is more on forecasting now and as we are a partner in IMPREX, I switched to the topic of seasonal streamflow forecasting for German catchments related to waterways. Some keywords are: combination / enhancement of statistical and dynamical forecasting approaches, linking forecast to impacts (skill measure, added-value).


Hector Macian-Sorribes

Hector Macian-Sorribes, Universitat Politècnica de València, València

'I have seen some extreme events (Mediterranean Spain), but the most impressive one happened in November 2001. It was a sudden flood that blocked the sewage system of my home town, made all the neighbouring rivers overflow and even made a hole in a near dam. I was in high school and they gave us some free days due to the intense rain and the risk of dam breaking. After the rain, almost all the people from my home town went to visit that dam to see the hole and the workers unsuccessfully trying to repair it.'

I am a 32 year old Spanish researcher from the north of the Valencian Region, and I have been living in Valencia since I was 18.

I am a Civil Engineer, with a Master’s degree in Water Engineering and Environment. My professional experience has always been related to water management and hydrology. I have worked for private enterprises as well as having been self-employed. My expertise is in stochastic optimisation of water management (especially in large-scale systems) as well as fuzzy logic.

I am now finishing my PhD, luckily my Thesis first draft will be submitted by the end of December. My PhD is focused on achieving better operating rules in complex water resources systems. We do that by combining expert criteria, stochastic programming and fuzzy logic. We have done some kind of co-development process in order to find out how water resources management is really done in the Jucar River basin, trying to mimic it with a mathematical model, and then use stochastic programming to further improve it but keeping the resemblance with the current process. We hope that, in this way, system operators will rely on the resulting operating policy.

I would like to keep doing research after my PhD. I would really want to make a difference in changing society's perspective on climate change and water management, because we will need that.


Jakob LuchnerJakob Luchner, Politecnico di Milano, Milan

'Having worked for some time in Thailand, the most impressive hydro-meteorological event I relate to are the 2011 floods in Thailand. Apart from the disastrous consequences on human lives and economy of this extraordinary flood event, it was a positive experience to see how such an event can change the perception and efforts spent on water management within the population and government authorities. It remains to hope that societies do not need more warnings of this kind to shift our paradigm of resources management from reactionary to precautious.'

I obtained my Master of Science in Environmental Engineering with a specialisation in Water Resources Management at the Technical University of Denmark. Afterwards, I worked three years for the Water Resources Department of DHI (Danish Hydraulic Institute) engaging in research and development as well as consultancy projects in Europe, Asia and Africa. My expertise covers water balance and hydrodynamic modeling, extreme value analysis, statistical downscaling and bias correction of climate and seasonal forecast model data, computer aided decision support systems and optimisation methods applied in river basin management.

Currently, I am pursuing a PhD at Politecnico di Milano in the field of multi-objective robust real-time control of water resources systems. The research engages in analysing how to use efficiently the vast amount of observed and forecasted information, which is readily available nowadays, to inform multi-objective real-time operation of reservoirs considering related uncertainties. The classic objectives at stake on the river basin level are hydropower production, flood control and water supply to different water users. In other words, the research contributes to real-time decision support to river basin management acknowledging new sources of observed and forecasted data, related uncertainties and the need to adapt management strategies to projected socio-economic and climate changes.


Yu LiYu LiPolitecnico di Milano, Milan

'The first extreme hydro-meteorological event that I can recall is the winter I spent at Cornell University (US) in 2015, which was reported as one of the coldest years in American history. For the daily commute between the campus and home I had to drag my feet through the snow of half a meter deep, and I could literally feel the ‘weight’ of the air as snow was pouring down from sky.'

I was born in a small town in southeast China, where we have a lot of typhoons during the summer monsoon season. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Zhejiang University of Technology in China. Then I obtained my Master’s degree in Geomatic and Civil Engineering at Politecnico di Milano., where I also obtained my PhD in water resource management.

My research interest focuses on the coupled human-water system modeling and analysis under climate change. During my PhD I devoted myself to exploring the multi-disciplinary knowledge, and constructed an agent-based model in which the concept of optimisation-based behavioural modeling was introduced in the modeling framework to describe the active roles of humans' activities in complex water system dynamics. Besides the main track, I am also interested in hydro informatics, including multi-objective optimisation, visual analytics, machine learning and big data analysis as applied on water system analysis. Like typical engineers, I like to make something useful and usable in order to benefit the society and contribute to a better and more sustainable world.

I am currently a Postdoc at Politecnico di Milano working on water system analysis with Prof. Andrea Castelletti and his group. I was involved in IMPREX for WP11 and partially WP8, where we focus on understanding the needs of our stakeholders (hydropower and farmers) for weather and climate services, and exploring the operational value of the weather forecasts in managing the system more efficiently through agent-based modeling approaches.


Alberto de TomasAlberto de TomasFutureWater Cartagena, Murcia

'One of the most extreme events I have experienced was a massive deluge in Copenhagen, in the summer 2011. It was actually the day I arrived there for starting a research stay at the University during my PhD.  Although I got really surprised, as it was my first time in northern Europe, I thought to myself that such a heavy rainfall corresponded to normal summer weather situations at those latitudes. Obviously, I realized hours later that it was not normal (150 mm in less than three hours!) and the city centre was flooded and plunged into chaos. Ironically, I now live in a region where dealing with water scarcity compromises everyone´s life and water management has become essential.'

I am an environmental scientist (BSc) specialised in Geographical Information Technologies (MSc-PhD) applied to water resources management and climate change adaption. My expertise covers the use of GIS and Remote Sensing techniques, in combination with Earth natural processes simulation models (energy and water fluxes), to solve complex spatial problems for the evaluation and decision support planning of water resources, both in the short and long-term.

In FutureWater we aim at developing a computer aided drought decision support system in the context of WP11 (agriculture and droughts) which we lead within the IMPREX project.

As an environmentalist, my goal is not only working for climate change adaptation but also, probably most importantly, for making people to understand its consequences in order to get them involved. Definitely, working for increasing the awareness of the real value of the environment.


Bart van OsnabruggeBart van OsnabruggeDeltares, Delft; Wageningen University, Wageningen

'As a PhD researcher working on river flow modelling for the river Rhine, I should first notice that the most extreme events during my life time due to this river were the near flood events during Christmas in 1993 and in January 1995. I myself however have no recollection of these moments.

My earliest memories of ‘extreme events’ are much more local: the regular flooding of the back garden at my parents’ house. At the far end of the garden was a little bicycle shed. Due to years of subsidence, the back alley and the parts of neighbouring gardens were a meter lower than the surrounding terrain. When it would rain hard enough, it would flood and the inside of the shed would be flooded as well. Because I, being Dutch, needed to retrieve and store my bike at least once a day, it was a real problem (although also a lot of fun, actually). Of course we took countermeasures. I remember moving around tiles and other stuff that happened to be at hand to optimize the ratio quick access versus feet getting wet. Later, the shed was replaced in a way that it didn’t flood anymore, but we still had to cycle through knee deep water sometimes, so we made mounds to stand on for take-off. Others followed this example and soon there was a patchwork of mounds. This is still the case today.'

I graduated in Civil Engineering, Water Management at Delft University of Technology. Directly after, I started my PhD research within IMPREX at Deltares. I am studying the intricate workings of operational hydrological forecasting models and data assimilation techniques, with a focus on hydrological forecasts in the Rhine basin.

Data assimilation is well known in operational meteorological forecasts, but for operational hydrological forecasts it is used very little in practice. It is therefore really interesting to do this work at Deltares, where the distance to the end-user is very short and developed methods have a high chance of implementation.