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IHA Young Researcher Award goes to rising stars from ETH Zurich and Wuhan University

IHA Young Researcher Award goes to rising stars from ETH Zurich and Wuhan University

The 2019 IHA Young Researcher Award has been jointly awarded to two rising stars from universities in Switzerland and China, at an awards ceremony at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris.

Martina Botter, a PhD student at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, and Weijia Yang, a Research Associate Professor at Wuhan University, were recognised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) for their research studies.


Ms Botter’s research provides a decision support system to test new hydropower operation strategies to adapt to a changing climate and economic context. The framework has the capability of accounting for the uncertainty which characterises the operating context, so that multiple different scenarios can be considered at the same time and robust adaptation strategies can be identified. 

On receiving her award, Ms Botter said: “I am honoured to have received this prize. It means motivation to me, motivation to continue investigating in the field of climate resilience, adaptation strategies and a multi-objective approach in the decision making process of hydropower planning and management. I am very glad to see the relevance these topics have in this World Hydropower Congress, since they represent the main challenges for the future of hydropower."

Mr Weijia Yang, who works at Wuhan University’s State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, submitted research offering an assessment framework of burden on hydropower units for short-term balancing of renewable power systems. His paper looks at the burden, performance and payment of hydropower regulation under various conditions and future scenarios, leading to potential benefits for hydropower producers and transmission system operators.

Two finalists were also recognised at the awards ceremony: Sebastián Leguizamón, a PhD student from EPF Lausanne, and Chantel Monica Niebuhr, a PhD student from the University of Pretoria. The ceremony took place at Pavillon d’Armenonville in the city of Paris. 

The IHA Young Researcher Award is open to young engineers and scientists aged under 30 and is made every two years at the World Hydropower Congress.

Entrants are invited to submit a short article summarising their work (no more than 1,500 words). The subject must be relevant to at least one of the topics under discussion at the upcoming World Hydropower Congress.

The winner will receive a year’s individual membership with IHA and free registration to the World Hydropower Congress, where they present their research.

IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The IHA Young Researcher Award provides an opportunity for young innovators to share their research with key representatives from the hydropower sector, government, financial and academic institutions and civil society. It is a rare chance to bring specialist research findings to the attention of policy-makers from around the world.”

The award was first presented at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, China, where it was won by Sami Khan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work on hydrophobic rare-earth oxide coatings and their potential application in hydropower systems.

It was awarded again at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The recipients were Alexandros Korkovelos of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sara Mercier-Blais of the University of Quebec in Montreal and Rafael Schmitt of UC Berkeley.