James Ferguson

James Ferguson

PhD student

Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics

Tel.: 044 63 55219

Room number: Y25 J 70

james.ferguson@geo.uzh.ch

Overview

I am a mathematician with an interest in real world problems. I build mathematical models to help understand the world around us, using a variety of analytical (chalkboard) and computational (computer) tools to explore their solutions.

Currently, my work focuses on glaciers. Previously, I have worked on a variety of other topics including: ocean acoustics, tropical climate dynamics, nonlinear PDEs, statistical downscaling, and differential geometry.

Research Interests

Mathematical interests:

  • partial differential equations
  • fluid dynamics
  • nonlinear optimization
  • network analysis
  • machine learning

Applications:

  • glacier and ice sheet dynamics
  • climate dynamics
  • wave-mean flow interaction
  • collective behaviour in animals and humans
  • ocean acoustics

CV

Education

  • Ph.D. Candidate in Physical Geography, University of Zurich (expected completion April 2021)
  • M.Sc. in Mathematics, University of Victoria (2008)
  • B.Sc. (Honours) in Mathematics, University of Victoria (2004)

Work Experience

  • Research engineer, CNES / Université de Toulouse (2016-2017)
  • Research assistant and sessional instructor, University of British Columbia (2010-2015)
  • Teaching assistant, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (2011)
  • Project scientist, JASCO Applied Sciences (2008-2009)
  • Research assistant, Environment Canada (2008)
  • Research assistant, University of Ottawa (2004)

Recent Contributions

 

2020

Ferguson, J., Vieli, A.: Modelling steady states and the transient response of debris-covered glaciers, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-228, (paper in review)

Mölg, N., Ferguson, J., Bolch, T., Vieli, A.: On the influence of debris cover on glacier morphology: How high-relief structures evolve from smooth surfaces, Geomorphology, 357, 107 092, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107092 (paper)

Ferguson J., Cicoira A., Dussaillant I., Mölg N., Vieli A.: Nonlinear feedbacks driving pattern formation on debris-covered glaciers, Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Zurich (poster) 

Cicoira A., Ferguson J., Dussaillant I., Mölg N., Vieli A.: Unveiling the secrets of the debris cover of the Zmutt Glacier (Valais – CH), Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Zurich (poster)

2019

Ferguson J., Bolch T., Mölg N., Ganarin R., Vieli A.: Numerical modelling of the geometry and debris thickness evolution of Zmuttgletscher, Swiss Alps since the Little Ice Age, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics General Assembly, Montreal, Canada (talk)

Ferguson J., Mölg N., Bolch T., Vieli A.: Historical reconstruction and numerical modelling of Zmuttgletscher, Swiss Alps, since the Little Ice Age, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA (poster)

2018

Mölg N., Paul F., Rastner P., Strozzi T., Ferguson J., Bolch T.: A glacier inventory covering the entire Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges with separately mapped debris cover to facilitate large-scale glacier modelling, European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria (poster)

Ferguson J., Bolch T., Mölg N., Vieli A.: Modelling the effect of debris cover on glacier response time, European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria (poster)

Ferguson, J., Vieli, A. Modelling steady states and the transient response of debris-covered glaciers, Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Bern (talk)

Teaching


I enjoy teaching and have the impression that while doing this I learn just as much as the students! 

Previously, I have been an instructor and a teaching assistant in Canada (UVic and UBC), South Africa (AIMS), and France (Univ. Toulouse III). I have taught courses in mathematics and its various applications in the natural sciences, helping students use differential equations, linear algebra, and both analytical methods and computer algorithms to solve practical problems.

Currently, I teach:

GEO413.1 - Quantifying and modelling of the cryosphere: dynamic processes  (M.Sc. course, with M. Lüthi and A. Vieli)

GEO299.1 - Small teaching groups (B.Sc. course, learning to read, analyze, and understand scientific papers)