Jakob Rhyner was appointed UNU Vice-Rector in Europe and Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security in November 2010. He holds a PhD and diploma in theoretical physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule; ETH) in Zurich. He is a member of numerous professional organizations and boards, including the Fachleute Naturgefahren Schweiz (Swiss Expert Group on Natural Hazards; since 2001), the Swiss Physical Society (since 1986), and research project evaluation boards of the European Commission (since 2006).
Prof. Rhyner has a variety of international experience, including serving as a guest scientist at L.D. Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics in Moscow, former Soviet Union (1986); visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA (1990-91); and scientific advisor at ABB Kabeldon in Alingsas, Sweden (1996-1997).
Prior to joining UNU, Prof. Rhyner served as Director of the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Davos, Switzerland, and as Head of SLF’s Warning and Prevention Research Unit. He acts as a member of the Directorial Board of WSL, and at WSL/SLF has been involved in the area of natural hazards safety since 2001.