Meet the PhD Jury – Ty Ferré – University of Arizona

(23-12-2022) The Limits of Science - How Hydrogeology Is Succeeding and Failing Society and What We Can Do about It

Meet the PhD Jury – Ty Ferré – University of Arizona

PhD candidate: Robin Thibaut

Machine Learning for Bayesian Experimental Design in the Subsurface

Title of the talk: The Limits of Science - How Hydrogeology Is Succeeding and Failing Society and What We Can Do about It

When: 21st of February, 2023 from 2pm to 4pm (to be confirmed)

Where: Classroom Valère Billiet, S8 (Campus Sterre)


The activity will start by a public lecture of about 75 minutes followed by an open discussion with the participants. Interested PhD students can get the opportunity to meet in person with Ty Ferré to discuss their own research. Interested PhD students should register in advance (email to to plan a 1-to-1 discussion with Ty Ferré.


Why don’t decision makers pay more attention to science? Perhaps it’s because scientists don’t pay enough attention to their questions that they are asking. In this talk, I will present an overview of the state of the practice in hydrogeologic analyses. I will point to exciting new efforts to improve our analyses, including the presentation of quantitative uncertainties and the development of application-driven modeling tools. Then I will present a few reasons that these advances are not enough to ensure that science is doing as much as it can to support water-resources decision-making. To improve, we need include the unique benefits of the Wisdom of the Crowd and the Team of Rivals decision making approaches. I will end with some thoughts on how process-based modeling can incorporate these ideas and touch on the opportunities and challenges presented by the emergence of Machine Learning to including these concepts in hydrogeologic analyses.

Short Bio

Ty Ferre is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. He received his PhD in Earth Sciences from the University of Waterloo, Canada, and a first degree in Geophysical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. In 2016, he was selected by the US National Groundwater Associated as the Darcy lecturer. This honor is awarded to an outstanding groundwater professional, and give them the opportunity to present a series of lectures at Universities and Professional associations throughout the world.

His research and teaching are best described as applied science. His early work focused on improving the use of geophysical methods in hydrology, primarily through harmonizing geophysical and hydrologic modeling approaches. That led to an interest in using quantitative models, with uncertainty, to assess the likely value of added observations as the basis for monitoring network design. Finally, his interest has landed on the integration of decision science, scientific analysis, and scientific observational design to address real-world problems. He hopes to answer the question: how can we use measurements and models to improve water-resources decision making?