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[IAHR Talks] Interview with Claudia Adduce. Focus on research and early career researchers

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Claudia Adduce“Early career researchers should to try to have scientific and professional interactions with other students or researchers by accepting opportunities for research stays in different institutions and/or participating in congresses and master classes...”

Claudia Adduce, Associate Professor of the Department of Engineering from Roma Tre University, shares with us her professional experience as a young academic and IAHR member. 

David Ferras, editor of NewsFlash World and vice-chair of IAHR technical committee on education and professional development, interviews Claudia Adduce.

Everybody trusts experimental work except the researcher who did it, no one trusts a numerical simulation except the researcher who did it. Which of these two kinds of researchers are you?

I have been working mainly on laboratory experiments. I started my research by running laboratory experiments on sediment transport and then I moved to a different research topic, stratified and rotating flows. In the last few years, I also used 3D Large Eddy Simulations for the investigation of stratified flows. In laboratory experiments, I can control external parameters and measure the variables of interest (including 2D density and velocity fields), with an estimate of measurement error. When I started to use LES for the investigation of gravity currents, I first simulated some experiments performed in the laboratory and checked the quality of LES results by comparing them with laboratory measurements. I found a high level of consistency which gave me reason to believe in the performed simulations and the impetus to go ahead with the numerical investigation. In my work, I used high resolution 3D Large Eddy Simulations, which can be considered as numerical experiments, to get variables I was not able to measure in the laboratory (such as instantaneous 3D velocity and density fields in the whole domain). So I can say that I am an experimentalist who is using both laboratory and numerical experiments.

Which of your career achievements are you most proud of?

Since the start of my career, I have been performing laboratory experiments to understand the dynamics of complex flows involving fluids with different densities or interacting with sediments. The main aim of my research is to provide better parameterizations for simplified models, which are not able to solve small-scale processes, such as the entrainment parameterization for shallow water models. In addition, my idealized laboratory experiments were able to explain some complex patterns or dynamics observed by field measurements, like the case of mesoscale oceanic vortex bifurcation.

Recently you were awarded with the Ippen award, which is assigned to an outstanding IAHR member for his/her achievements and for showing a great potential to keep a high level of productivity. What’s your vision for your future work? 

In September 2019, during the IAHR World Congress in Panama, I was awarded the Ippen award for my outstanding contributions in the field of experimental and numerical modeling and innovation in experimental techniques with applications to stratified flows and sediment transport. During the IAHR World Congress, I gave the 21st Ippen Lecture on Gravity Currents propagating over complex topography: implications for fluid entrainment and sediment transport, which is my main research focus. The Ippen award will provide the motivation to continue my work on stratified flows with a high level of productivity. I also hope that this award could inspire my students at Roma Tre University for their future career, in particular female students in hydraulic engineering. Recently, I’ve started to work on satellite remote sensing. So for the future, I will continue my previous work on stratified flows through both laboratory and numerical experiments and I will broaden my research by using satellite remote sensing.

Within Hydralab+ framework you carried out some experiments at the Coriolis platform in Grenoble CNRS. Can you talk a little bit about your experience? 

Hydralab+ is a very important project that provides access to unique hydraulic experimental facilities in Europe. I met one of the team members of my Hydralab+ project during the 2015 IAHR World Congress and we decided to start a scientific collaboration. We built our team and we submitted a call for an ambitious project on ‘The dynamics of bi-directional exchange flows: implication for morphodynamic change within estuaries and sea straits’ to Hydralab+, which for the first time aimed at investigating stratified and rotating flows over a mobile bed. The research experience at the Coriolis Platform of LEGI in France was very exciting. I had already performed experiments with stratified-rotating flows using a smaller rotating tank (1 m in diameter) at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the US, but the rotating tank of LEGI is the largest in the world with a diameter of 13 m. The control room with all the computers controlling the measurement instruments (including PIV, ADVs, UVP, conductivity probes, pumps and the tank rotation speed) is positioned above the tank and rotates with the tank. So the researchers, working on the tank, experience for themselves the effect of rotation or the Coriolis effect. We collected a lot of data during our two-month experimental campaign and we are still analyzing it. We found very interesting results like the occurrence of a meandering pattern within the flow due to rotation. The results of this project could have implications for the parameterizations of mixing in simplified models.

What for you are the benefits of being an IAHR member? Do you have experience in any other international research association?

I became an IAHR member in 2007, I have also joined the European Mechanics Society and am a member of the Italian Hydraulics Group (GII). IAHR is a large association that includes different countries from all over the world and it is devoted to the different fields of Hydraulics from basic to applied Hydraulics. I am a member of the leadership team of the IAHR technical committee on Experimental Methods and Instrumentation and the IAHR Europe Regional Division. There are several benefits to being an IAHR member. Participating in IAHR congresses improves the exchange of knowledge and professional networking, which is important for building a research network and then eventually submitting a joint research proposal. Technical committees promoting different technical events can help IAHR members and in particular young researchers in developing their carriers. In addition, master classes organized during IAHR events are a unique opportunity for young researchers to exchange ideas and get feedback from the master and other students investigating similar topics.

Any advice to early career researchers?

When I was an early career researcher at Roma Tre University, I spent several research periods in different international institutions including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (US) and EPFL (Switzerland), and I participated in IAHR congresses, interacting with scientists and other students with fruitful discussions and exchange of knowledge. These experiences and exchanges were very important for my career development and most of my ongoing research collaboration started at that time. So I would suggest that early career researchers should to try to have scientific and professional interactions with other students or researchers by accepting opportunities for research stays in different institutions and/or participating in congresses and master classes.

Do you have any hobbies you are as passionate about as your work?

I have different interests. I am very sporty, I have been playing on a volleyball team for years and I love music and playing guitar. I was involved in politics in the city in which I live, Rome, where I was elected to the municipal council. After my son was born, ten years ago, my spare time is devoted to him, but I still find some time to go running or swimming.

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