University of Bern, Faculty of Science, Institute of Geography
Virginia Ruiz-Villanueva obtained a BA in Earth Sciences from the University of Oviedo (Spain, 2006) and a Master in Geomorphology, Hydrology and Natural Risks from the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain, 2008), where she also completed her doctorate in fluvial geomorphology in February 2013. A few months earlier, in December 2012, she started her first post-doc position at the Dendrolab laboratory at the University of Bern (Institute of Geological Sciences). The laboratory and part of the team moved to the Institute of Environmental Sciences (University of Geneva) in 2016, where she continued to work as a scientific collaborator. In 2019, she became a senior researcher at the Hydraulics, Hydrology, and Glaciology (VAW) Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) until she joined the Faculty of Geosciences and the Environment at the University of Lausanne in 2020, awarded with an SNSF Eccellenza Professorship. In 2023, Virginia was appointed Asst. Professor at the Faculty of Science, Institute of Geography of the University of Bern, where she leads the Unit of Geomorphology, Natural Hazards and Risks Research.
Virginia Ruiz Villanueva has worked extensively on fluvial processes and inherent risks in river basins, notably The analysis and modeling of extreme flooding and instream wood dynamics. She is interested in the form and function of fluvial ecosystems and their physical-biotic interactions, emphasizing feedback between fluvial processes (e.g., flooding) and the riparian forest, which is the main source of wood. Since her thesis on the risks of flooding in ungauged mountain basins of the Spanish central system, Virginia’s research has extended to the study of different geomorphic cascade processes in several mountainous areas: Swiss Alps, Polish Carpathians, or Pyrenees. Her multiple international collaborations have led her to study contrasting river systems, such as some of the large basins of the Himalayas or the Rhône in France and the small upper reaches of the mountains in the Carpathians, the Chilean Andes, and the Tian Shan.
In her work, Virginia combines a field approach, computational skills, and the ability to numerically simulate processes in rivers.
Universities and Academia
She is interested in the form and function of rivers and their catchments and their linkages with the landscape, including physical-biotic interactions. For example, one focus of her current research is dedicated to the organic load of rivers (i.e., instream large wood), the study of its dynamics, its monitoring and its potential hazard during floods.