Scientific Committee

The scientific committee consists of representatives of the organising waste management organisations and invited members from academia and research. It supports the local organising committee in planning and carrying out the conference. Scientific committee members review submitted abstracts, decide on their quality and presentation format, chair sessions and judge posters during the conference, among other supporting tasks.

Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

Dr. Wiebke Baille is a Scientist at the Chair of Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering and Environmental Engineering at Ruhr University Bochum. After her studies at Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany and École des Mines d’Alès, France, she has worked in a geotechnical engineering office before she returned in 2005 to academia as research assistant at the Chair of Soil Mechanics at Bauhaus-University Weimar. Since 2009 she works at Ruhr University Bochum, now at the Chair of Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering and Environmental Geotechnics, where she received her PhD in 2014 for her thesis on the Influence of mineralogy on the hydro-mechanical behaviour of different clays. For more than 15 years she worked in fundamental and applied research on clays, with focus on hydro-mechanical and thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour. She is author and co-author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and has served as reviewer for several journals for many years.

Lawrence  Berkeley  National Laboratory, USA

Dr. Jens Birkholzer is a Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). As an internationally recognized expert in subsurface energy applications and environmental impact assessment, he serves as the Director for the Energy Geosciences Division (EGD) in the Earth and Environmental Systems Area (EESA). EGD is a premier organization of ~250 staff and affiliates with expertise in energy geosciences and carbon management. Jens’ research is related to evaluating the feasibility and environmental sustainability of a broad portfolio of geo-energy applications, with particular focus on the role of subsurface resources for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and geologic carbon storage. He has over 400 scientific publications, about 170 of which are in peer-reviewed journals. He serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (IJGGC), the Energies Journal (Geo-Energy Section), and is also an Editorial Policy Advisor for the Journal of Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment (GETE). Dr. Birkholzer leads the international DECOVALEX Model Comparison Project as its Chairman, is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and a Senior Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology.

EIG Euridice, Belgium

Mieke De Craen has a PhD is earth sciences (1998, KULeuven, Belgium). Her PhD study focussed on geochemical processes within argillaceous rocks, more specifically those leading to the formation of septarian carbonate concretions within the Boom Clay. In 1997, she joined the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, SCK CEN. As scientific collaborator and project leader, she has built up expertise in the field of geological disposal of radioactive waste through her own research, contract work (mainly for ONDRAF/NIRAS), and European research programmes. Her expertise mainly focuses on Boom Clay geology, hydro- and geochemistry, with a range of experiments in the underground laboratory HADES in Mol. Since September 2018, she became the head of the expert group EURIDICE at SCK CEN and Team manager of the EIG EURIDICE (‘European Underground Research Infrastructure for Disposal of nuclear waste in a Clay Environment’), an economic interest group between SCK CEN and ONDRAF/NIRAS. The EIG EURIDICE contributes to the Belgian RD&D programme to assess the safety and feasibility of geological disposal of high-level and/or long-lived radioactive waste in a deep clay formation in Belgium. More specifically, the EIG EURIDICE is responsible for managing and operating the HADES underground research laboratory, research and development relating to the geological disposal of radioactive waste in deep clay formations, and the communicating about its activities.

BGR/LBEG, Germany

Dr. Reiner Dohrmann, mineralogist (Tübingen University, 1993), is leading the Section Technical Mineralogy, Sedimentology of Geological Survery (Federal, BGR and Lower Saxony, LBEG) in Hannover, Germany since 2001. He finished PhD at RWTH Aachen about cation exchange on clay minerals in 1997. In Hannover, he is responsible for clay mineralogy research with focus on quantitative mineral analysis in clays and soils. Second focus is on alteration of clay minerals and cation exchange in waste disposal experiments, accompanied by lab experiments. Reiner published as author and co-author more than 150 peer reviewed papers and serves the scientific community as Associate (Guest) Editor of different clay mineralogy journals and as council member of several international associations for clay and soil science for more than 20 years.

Nagra, Switzerland

Irina Gaus was appointed Manager Optimisation and Member of Nagra’s Executive Board in January 2023. In her new role she is responsible for optimising the repository project with a particular view to long-term safety, construction and cost. Since 2016, she is also Nagra’s responsible for Research and Development. She joined Nagra in the Department of International Services and Projects in 2007 where she was leading large-scale experiments and multiple consultancy projects in Europe and overseas. Before that she has held positions at the French Geological Survey (BRGM) on carbon storage and aquifer management and at the British Geological Survey as hydrogeologist. Her expertise covers radioactive waste disposal management, RD&D programme management, subsurface thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical impacts, carbon storage, safety case development and groundwater applications. She published over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book contributions. She chaired the Implementing Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste Technology Platform (IGD-TP) between 2019-2021 and acts as an internal reviewer for the French and the Japanese radioactive waste programme. She participated as IAEA expert in the review of the Spanish (2018) and the Finnish radioactive waste programme (2022).

BGE, Germany

Astrid Göbel is head of the section Research & Development Site Selection for a repository for HLW at the federal company for radioactive waste disposal (BGE). Before she joined the German Waste Management Organisation in 2017, she worked for the Department Safety of Nuclear Waste Management, Federal Office for Radiation Protection since 2011. Her professional experiences cover programming and implementation of RD&D activities, scientific and committee work as well as project management and evaluation of disposal projects. She holds a degree in Geology from Technical University Berlin, specialised in areas of Deposit Sciences and Applied Geochemistry.

PURAM, Hungary

Amadé is a senior research fellow at PURAM (Public Limited Company for Radioactive Waste Management) since 2022. At PURAM he is involved in the site selection and site characterisation programme for the final disposal of high-level/spent fuel radioactive waste (HLW/SF) and very low-level waste (VLLW). Throughout his career (since 1999) he has also actively contributed to the siting programme of the low and intermediate level waste (LILW) repository at Bátaapáti, Hungary. He obtained his master’s degree in geography and geology specializing in environmental studies. Later he achieved a PhD degree in Earth Sciences. His PhD research topic was the sedimentology and cyclostratigraphy of the Boda Claystone Formation which is the candidate host rock for the HLW/SF deep geological repository in Hungary. He is still involved in academic research related to claystone sedimentology partly involving Artificial Intelligent (AI) methods, after spending 18 years as an assistant professor of geology. He has participated in several national and international projects and scholarships (Erasmus, CEEPUS, Horizon 2020, etc.) focusing on environmental geology. He is co-author of more than 60 reviewed publications, and five educational textbooks. He has given many lectures regularly abroad covering sedimentology, and environmental geology related topics. He has gained valuable experience in the surface and underground exploration programme for the final disposal of low and intermediate level radioactive waste, working with the Hungarian Geological Service for almost ten years. With many years of experience in field geology, he has had the privilege of contributing to Paks II. NPP site assessment programme including the Geological Research Program, in order to investigate for the construction license of the site of the two new nuclear power plant units.

SÚRAO, Czech Republic

Lucie Hausmannová completed her PhD in Materials Engineering at the CTU in Prague in 2017; her thesis focused on the hydromechanical behaviour of bentonite. She previously gained professional experience working in soil mechanics laboratory, where she was responsible for the testing of the THM properties of bentonite. She began working at SÚRAO in 2017, where she was initially responsible for the research and development of engineered barriers and, in 2023, she was appointed SÚRAO’s R&D coordinator.



UFZ Leipzig/Halle, Germany

Olaf Kolditz is the head of the Department of Environmental Informatics at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ). He holds a Chair in Applied Environmental System Analysis at the Technische Universität in Dresden. His research interests are related to environmental fluid mechanics, numerical methods and software engineering with applications in geotechnics, hydrology and energy storage. Prof. Kolditz is the lead scientist of the OpenGeoSys project, an open source scientific software platform for the numerical simulation of thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical processes in porous media, in use worldwide. He studied theoretical mechanics and applied mathematics at the University of Kharkov, got a PhD in natural sciences from the Academy of Science of the GDR (in 1990) and earned his habilitation in engineering sciences from Hannover University (in 1996). Until 2001 he was full professor for Geohydrology and Hydroinformatics at Tübingen University and director of the international Master course in Applied Environmental Geosciences. Olaf Kolditz is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Earth Sciences. Olaf Kolditz was awarded a professorship under the CAS President's International Fellowship (PIFI) in 2015. The OpenGeoSys Project was awarded the UFZ Research Prize in 2021.

NUMO, Japan

Mr Shigeru Kubota is one of a director of Science and Technology department of NUMO, Japan's implementor of geological disposal. He is a civil engineer expertizes in rock mechanics and seismic design, and also familiar with design and construction work of tunnel. He moved to NUMO in 2009, and has been leading the design of EBS, underground facility and assessment of operational safety. He was subcommittee member under rock mechanics committee and energy committee of Japan Society of Civil Engineers and also was a committee member of domestic URL investigation.

BGR, Germany

Johanna Lippmann-Pipke holds a higher education diploma in physics. She started her scientific career with a doctor´s degree from the Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg, Germany, with the characterisation of pore waters and their dynamics in rocks adjacent to the final repository for low and intermediate level radwaste, ERA Morsleben. Following two years as professional research assistant at the Isotope Hydrology Laboratory at the IAEA, Vienna, Austria, she moved on with a two-year post-doc stipend to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of the Columbia University, New York, USA. Here, as well as in the coming five years back in Germany at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, she characterised deepest seating groundwaters in Archean cratons with innovative tracer techniques as well as gas emanations and gas transport triggered by mining activities in seismogenic depth. In 2007 she became head of a Reactive Transport department in a Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf with focus on radiochemical tracer studies. Her successful grant acquisitions by then peaked in a EU project on raw materials under her coordination. Since 2017 she heads a research sub-division in the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, BGR, with focus on experimental and numerical studies on THM coupled processes in clay and rock salt as well as geotechnical barriers. Since 2017 she is member of the NEA Clay Club.


MSc in Civil Engineering (Stanford University, USA) and Mining Engineer (Madrid School of Mines, Spain). He has over 30 years working experience in the field of geological disposal of radioactive waste. He is presently Senior Project Manager in charge of the R&D programme of the Site Engineering Dept. of ENRESA in the fields of Rock Mechanics and Hydrogeology.
At the international level Mr. Mayor has maintained strong cooperation with many of the WMOs, particularly through the EURATOM programme, by participating and coordinating different R&D projects in various URLs (Mont Terri, Grimsel, Hades, Asse mine). He is a member of the Steering Committees of the Mont Terri Project and of the Grimsel Test Site, both in Switzerland, and represents ENRESA at the NEA-IGSC working group on the Characterisation, the Understanding, and the Performance of Argillaceous Rocks as Repository Host Formations. Mr. Mayor was member of the International Review Team involved in the NEA peer review of the post-closure radiological safety case produced by SKB (Sweden) in 2011. He has participated as well in various phases of the international DECOVALEX project.

COVRA, The Netherlands

Erika Neeft has been working as a researcher at COVRA (Dutch Waste Management Organisation) since 2010. She was the technical coordinator of the third Dutch programme into geological disposal of radioactive waste. She is a co-author of the initial Dutch safety case (2017) and categorized the waste to be disposed of into waste families (2016). Currently, she is responsible for coordinating the research for an underground facility in clay host rock in the Netherlands. She performs cost estimates for the construction, operation and closure of an underground facility in clay in order to assess the contribution of disposal of radioactive waste in COVRA’s current waste fees. She also makes the post-closure safety assessments. She holds a MSc degree in Earth Sciences from Utrecht University and a PhD degree in reactor physics from Delft University of Technology.

Posiva Oy, Finland

Mika Niskanen holds a PhD in Chemistry (2011) from the University of Eastern Finland. He has been working as a Research and Development engineer at Posiva Oy (Finnish implementor for Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository) since 2016.
Mika works mainly with clay barriers and thermal dimensioning and optimization of the repository for spent nuclear fuel. He is the system responsible for buffer and backfill, a member in Posiva´s Long-term safety evaluation group and works also with safety case issues.


Prof Simon Norris is a geoscientist, and has worked for the UK Waste Management Organisation, Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), and predecessors for nearly 30 years. Along with his team and colleagues, Simon undertakes Geological Disposal Facility-related research and development work on geosphere evolution, waste-derived gas, engineered barrier systems, biosphere, and construction & operations as part of the UK’s ongoing GDF siting process. This process, which is consent-based, is currently involved with several potential host communities. In these, the GDF could be sited either in Jurassic clays or in Triassic mudstones. Work Simon is proceeding in the supply chain and in academia is aimed to enhance site-specific understanding and consider how the host rock could respond to a GDF being built in it followed by waste emplacement. Academic work involves supervising a number of Ph.D. students throughout their study periods, as part of NWS’s Research Support Office. Simon has been a member of the organising committee for the Clays Conference since 2010 and was lead editor on several related publications. He is also vice chair of the NEA ‘Clay Club’ and was recently appointed as an Honorary Professor at The University of Manchester.

Swisstopo, Switzerland

Christophe Nussbaum is a senior scientist in geosciences and holds a PhD in structural geology since 2000. He started his career as engineer geologist for the construction of the Lötschberg base tunnel (Swiss Alps). In 2005, he officially joined the Mont Terri Project as Project Manager, after some previous research mandates. Today, he is employed by the Swiss Geological Survey at Swisstopo, where he is the Director of the Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory since January 2021. For the past two decades, he has been involved in numerous research projects and expertise related to high-level radioactive waste disposal and CO2 storage for geological carbon sequestration in shale. Since 2015, he is also a lecturer in geo-energy for master students in civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL, Lausanne.

BGE, Germany

Wolfram Rühaak is a geoscientist working for the federal company for radioactive waste disposal in Germany (BGE) where he is heading the Safety Assessment Department. Additionally he is habilitated adjunct lecturer (Privatdozent) at the Institute of Applied Geosciences at Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany. Furthermore, he is giving lectures at Technische Universität Clausthal. His research focuses on numerical modeling of coupled thermo-hydraulic-mechanical-chemical (THMC) processes.



University Jena, Germany

Thorsten Schäfer leads the team of Applied Geology at the Institute for Geosciences (IGW) of the Friedrich-Schiller University (FSU) Jena since June 2017. Before he was professor for Chemical Envi-ronmental Geology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) with a simultaneous position as deputy Director of the Institute for Nuclear Waste Disposal (KIT-INE). Born in 1969, Thorsten stud-ied geology at the Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz with a focus on geochemis-try/hydrogeology. After completing his doctoral thesis, his path led him in 2000-2001 as a Postdoc to the USA at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) of Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and SUNY@ Stony Brook to join the research group of Janos Kirz & Chris Jacobsen. Here, his work focused on spectromicroscopic (STXM) characterization of nanoparticles. Back in Germany at the Karlsruhe Research Center (today KIT), Thorsten worked on the influence of interfacial process-es on the mobility of radionuclides and led the INE activities in several EU projects as well as under-ground laboratory activities especially at the Grimsel Test Site (CH) and Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory (SE).
In recent years, he expanded his research on the influence of microbiology on dynamics at solid-liquid interfaces. Among current research activities are e.g. transport processes in the critical zone (biogeochemical cycles), the prediction of rheology properties in cement hydration using clinker substitutes (calcined clays), the formation of biominerals/nanoparticles, the hydro-geochemical processes in the near- and far field of a repository, the feedback of mineral reactions on the hy-drodynamics, and strategies for phytoremediation/biomass production at former mining sites.
Thorsten Schäfer is a member of many national and international committees including e.g. the Expert Group on Nuclear Waste Disposal (EGT) advising ENSI in Switzerland.

Andra, France

Stephan Schumacher holds an engineering degree from the Nancy School of Geology. After five years spent developing scientific software, he joined Andra in 1996 to work on performance and safety assessment, then on the long-term behavior of radioactive waste (vitrified waste, graphite, etc.), before heading the department in charge of studying radioactive waste and repository materials (clay materials, cementitious materials, metallic materials, ceramics). He became Deputy Director of R&D in 2018, where he was involved in the preparation and launch of the EURAD EJP, before becoming Director in 2022. With over a hundred employees, the division draws on exceptional research resources, such as the Meuse/Haute-Marne underground research laboratory.

SKB, Sweden

Civil Engineer, 1987, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.
He has more than 35 years’ experience in research and safety assessments for the long-term performance of buffer and materials for radioactive waste repositories.
He is currently coordinator for the R&D for clay barriers at the department for Research and Development, Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company.

University of Orléans, France

Christophe Tournassat is a Professor at the University of Orléans, and the Director of the Observatory of Sciences of the Universe in the region Centre-Val de Loire, France. He is also currently a Visiting Faculty in the Energy Geosciences Division, Earth and Environmental Sciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, USA. Christophe Tournassat holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Earth Sciences from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France, a Ph.D. in Environmental Geochemistry from the University of Grenoble, France, and a professorial thesis in Geology from the University of Nantes, France. Christophe Tournassat is an expert in reactive transport modeling whose work has spanned a range of topics from pore-water chemistry in claystones and the fate of iodine in clay barriers to sorption processes on clay minerals and anomalous transport properties of clayey materials. He co-developed, with Carl Steefel, the code CrunchClay, which can simulate coupled non-Fickian/non-Darcian transport together with reactive processes in nanoporous media. Christophe Tournassat is an associate editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta and is a member of the editorial board of Applied Clay Science. In 2023, he received the Marion L. and Christie M. Jackson Mid-Career Clay Scientist Award from the Clay Minerals Society for his contributions to the clay mineralogy field.


Maarten Van Geet is RD&D Manager of ONDRAF/NIRAS since 2016. In this role he is responsible for the Belgian RD&D programme with respect to the management of radioactive waste, from waste treatment & conditioning to disposal including phenomenological studies, engineering & design and safety assessment. He joined ONDRAF/NIRAS in 2007, starting with the management of the geological studies. Before that he worked at SCK CEN on geological disposal including several in situ experiments in the Underground Research Laboratory HADES, jointly operated by SCK CEN and ONDRAF/NIRAS. Maarten has also been involved at international level through European projects and as member of several advisory committees of other nuclear waste management agencies. Maarten has been a member of the organising committee for the Clay Conference since 2015 and co-editor on several related publications.


María Victoria Villar has a Ph.D. in Geology and is working since 1989 at CIEMAT, a Spanish research centre for energy, environment and technology. She is an experimentalist, currently head of the Soil Mechanics Laboratory and of the research group on Thermo-hydro-mechanics and geochemistry of geomaterials. Her work has focussed on the characterization and assessment of behaviour of host rocks and barrier materials for the disposal of radioactive waste and has been carried out mainly in the framework of projects financed by the European Commission and by Enresa, the Spanish agency for nuclear waste management. She has been the leading scientist of CIEMAT in 11 national projects and 5 projects financed by the European Comission, and international collaborator in three projects financed by the Department of Energy (USA).
She has been member on the scientific committees of several national and international conferences, co-organised sessions in international conferences and given talks in more than forty international congresses. She is author of about 250 technical reports and 55 journal articles. She was included in the world ranking prepared by the Stanford University about the citation impact in 2021 and 2022. Recipient of the George Stephenson Medal in 2012 and of the Environmental Geotechnics Prize in 2020, both awarded by the Institution of Civil Engineers. In 2022 she was invited by the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board to give her expert view on the influence of temperature on clay materials at a Hybrid Public Meeting.
Co-Editor-in-Chief of Applied Clay Science and Editorial Board member of Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment and Engineering Geology, where she was recognised as outstanding EB member in 2022. She has reviewed articles for more than 30 international journals.

Tongji University, China

Professor Weimin YE is a Distinguished Professor and Head of Geological Engineering Discipline in School of Civil Engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. He received a BSc degree on Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology from Hefei Polytechnic University, a Master degree on Hydrogeology and a Doctor degree on Structure Engineering from Tongji University in China. Prof YE’s research interests include unsaturated soils, hydrogeology and environmental geotechnics. He has been conducting research in compacted bentonite for using as buffer materials in deep geological repository for disposal of high-level radioactive waste in China for more than 20 years. In this direction, he is exploring the engineering properties of GMZ bentonite under Chemo-thermo-hydro-mechanical coupling conditions. He has more than 400 publications including more than 220 international journal papers. He has a total citation of ~4500 and an H-index of 38, according to Web of Science. Professor YE got a First prize of Natural Science from the Ministry of Education, China and other 5 awards from local governments for his contributions to research. He was listed in the World's Top 2% Scientists 2020-2022. Professor Ye currently serves as chairman of Commission for Waste Disposal under IAEG (C36). He is an associate editors-in-chief for Geoenvironmental Disasters and a member in the editorial boards of Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment.

How will the videos and posters be judged?

Experts will watch your video in advance of the conference and judge it considering the presentation style, scientific impact, explanation of motivation of the study, and the novelty. The top 30 presenters from this round will present their research as a two-minute presentation (flash talk) on stage using a maximum of two slides each during the plenary sessions of the Clay Conference 2024. The uploaded video will not be shown at this occasion.
The expert judges will further look at the posters during the respective poster session at the Clay Conference 2024. They will discuss with you during the poster session to judge the poster considering the presentation style, especially how knowledgeable you are in exchange with the judge, and the study design (data, methodology, conclusions).
Video and poster session scores will be combined to determine the overall poster award winners.
The exact details on judging can be found in the judging sheet.