Costanza Bonadonna


Professor at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Geneva

Situation professionnelle en 2019

"Universities should give more women positions of responsibility in order to create a more inclusive and more balanced system."

My career path

I’m a researcher in physical volcanology and professor of geological risks in the Earth Sciences Department and vice dean of the Faculty of Science. I’m also the director of the specialization certificate for the assessment and management of geological and climate-related risk (CERG-C).

I enjoy the research I do with my team, interacting with my PhD students and my postdocs and working with my local and international colleagues on topics that will have important ramifications for society, like the analysis and management of geological risks. The CERG-C programme allows me to work directly with risk-reduction scientists and experts around the globe.

I’m driven first and foremost by my desire to advance science, inspire younger generations of scientists, contribute to making society more aware and strengthen communities’ capacities to cope with geological risks.

My career path. I was inspired by Italian volcanologist Professor Barberi, who came to my school in Pisa to talk about ways of reducing volcanic risks. After completing my studies at the University of Pisa, I went on to do my PhD at Bristol University and was lucky enough to be on the island of Montserrat, in the Caribbean, when the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted. I saw firsthand that catastrophes can stem from numerous factors, including the social, cultural and political characteristics of the population of Montserrat and the physical and chemical features of the eruption. I’ve also been lucky to have the encouragement of my family and friends. My research supervisors have always supported me and made it possible for me to go beyond what I thought I could do. And I’ve been able to team up with people who have given me the enthusiasm and passion I need to progress in my research.

A downside or obstacle ? The university can be a very competitive environment, which is not always good for your personal development. And women can be held back by their tendency towards teamwork, open-mindedness and inclusion rather than individualism. There are plenty of female volcanologists at the PhD and postdoc levels, but not so many after that. Universities should give more women positions of responsibility in order to create a more inclusive and more balanced system.

I’m proud that my research team inspires others, especially female scientists. My new probability strategies were among the first to be used to assess the risks associated with falling tephra, while others aim to mitigate volcanic risks in civil aviation.

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

Vivre en pleine conscience, en contact avec moi-même et avec la nature dans des environnements coopératifs, ouverts et multiculturels.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Margherita Hack, astrophysicienne italienne intéressée par les domaines sociaux et politiques et, surtout, avec beaucoup d’humour. Thich Nhat Hanh, leader spirituel mondial et activiste pour la paix.

Un livre & un film

The Art of Loving (Erich Fromm), The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) et Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi).

Un modèle

Ma mère, sa grande force intérieure, sa passion et son enthousiasme. Le professeur Steve Sparks de l’Université de Bristol, esprit ouvert et humaniste.

Un objet

Le quartz rose

Une couleur


Un rêve

Un environnement social et scientifique plus conscient, coopératif, inclusif, durable et en contact avec la nature.