Das Team TU Vision 2025+ lud zu Vortrag und Diskussion mit J.F. Molinari, Civil Engineering Institute, Institute of Materials Science, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Schweiz, zum Semesterthema Exzellenz


Wann? Montag, 6.6.2016 um 13:00 Uhr
Wo? Kontaktraum, Gußhausstraße 27-29, 6. Stock, 1040 Wien




We begin this talk with a quick overview of the presenter's research activities in numerical tribology. While no one would argue that the old science of friction, Tribology, is fundamental to life, science and engineering, funding in this field has been in the recent decades uncertain as it has often been considered "traditional" in contrast to the appeal of "new sciences". We will highlight some exciting developments that have yet to translate in high-citation impact as a case in point to discuss scientometrics, that we define here as the study of measuring the impact of scientific publications.

The topic is certainly controversial, but it is a given that scientists and research institutions (i.e. departments, centers, universities) will not see a decrease of scrutiny in the foreseeable future by their peers, administrations and tax payers. I will present my personal opinion on the fundamental differences between evaluating individuals (for which academic freedom should be the driving force) and institutions (for which the law of large numbers applies). The presentation will focus on the famed h-index metric, namely an h-index of n for an ensemble of papers indicates that n papers are at least cited n times. We will discuss an empirical observation of the existence of a power law with a well-defined exponent for the growth of the h-index with the number of publications [1,2]. This observation could serve as a useful metric to normalize the size of the institutions. We will nonetheless describe potential pitfalls of such a normalization.

[1] J.F. Molinari, A. Molinari, "A new methodology for ranking scientific institutions", Scientometrics, Vol. 75 (1), pp. 163-174, 2008.
[2] A. Molinari, J.F. Molinari, "Mathematical aspects of a new criterion for ranking scientific institutions based on the h-index", Scientometrics, Vol. 75 (2), pp. 339-356, 2008.



Jean-François Molinari is the director of the Computational Solid Mechanics Laboratory (http://lsms.epfl.ch) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland). He holds appointments in the institutes of Civil Engineering (http://iic.epfl.ch) and of Materials Science (http://imx.epfl.ch). He was promoted to Full Professor in 2012, and since September 2013, is the director of the Civil Engineering Institute.

He obtained in 2001 a Ph.D. in Aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He held professorships in several countries including the United States (Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University; 2000-2006; tenure in 2006) and France (Laboratoire de Mécanique et Technologie, ENS Cachan; 2005-2007) and was a Teaching Associate at the Ecole Polytechnique de Paris (2006-2009).

The work conducted by Prof. Molinari and his collaborators takes place at the frontier between traditional disciplines and covers atomistic, continuum mechanics, and multiscale numerical methods. The activities of the laboratory span the domains of damage mechanics of materials and structures, nano- and microstructural mechanical properties, and tribology. Prof. Molinari is a recipient of a 2009 ERC Starting Grant award.

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