USF Research News

USF Faculty Member Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

May 25, 2018

Research will help scientists better predict and assess the impact of volcanic eruptions

TAMPA, Fla. – A USF volcano science professor who has written more than 20 publications in top-tier academic journals, was announced as a recipient of a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to support his work in volcano science.

Sylvain Charbonnier, an Assistant Professor of Geosciences, was awarded a grant of $427,000 over five years to test, validate and compare existing models for the hazards associated with pyroclastic density currents – the hot particles and gas that are the particularly destructive products of a volcanic eruption.

Sylvain Charbonnier Sylvain Charbonnier

Charbonnier’s research will help scientists better predict and assess the impact of volcanic eruptions and create more accurate hazard assessment studies for communities threatened by volcanoes.

"My research is based on an iterative process of integrating data, theories and models to improve our understanding of the dynamics of volcanic mass flows (lava flows, debris flows, pyroclastic density currents), as well as their hazard assessment studies," he said.

"My primary research area of expertise focuses on hazard assessment of pyroclastic density currents (hot mixtures of gas and volcanic particles that travel at high speed and are responsible for most deaths from volcanic hazards of the 21st century) by combining field-based studies with remote sensing tools and numerical models in areas where these flows represent a high risk to the surrounding population."

Charbonnier has been at the USF School of Geosciences since 2010, when he arrived as a postdoctoral researcher and he joined the faculty in 2014 as an assistant professor. He has conducted research on the active volcanoes of Java – particularly the Merapi volcano, the most active one in Indonesia. He also has active research projects at Colima volcano in Mexico; Misti volcano in Peru and Calbuco volcano in Chile.

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is the agency’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and will be future leaders in their disciplines.

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The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St.Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is ranked in the Top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as “Emerging Preeminent,” placing USF in an elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

About the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." NSF is vital because we support basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.