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Professor Hywel Thomas elected Foreign Member by the Chinese Academy of Sciences

29 November 2021

Hywel Thomas

Cardiff School of Engineering’s Professor Hywel Thomas has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s highest honour for foreign scientists.

The School of Engineering congratulates Professor Hywel Thomas, CBE, FREng, FRS, FLSW on his election as a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

This is the highest honour to be bestowed by the Chinese government to a foreign scientist for contributions and achievements in science and technology and represents an outstanding personal achievement for Professor Thomas.

CAS is the national academy for natural sciences of the People's Republic of China and provides advisory and appraisal services on issues stemming from the national economy, social development and science and technology.

A total of 25 foreign members from around the world were elected to CAS in 2021 with Professor Thomas the only one elected from civil engineering.

Professor Hywel Thomas is a Distinguished Research Professor in Civil Engineering at Cardiff University, founder and Director of the Geoenvironmental Research Centre, and a UNESCO Professor in the Development of a Sustainable Geoenvironment. He is also a Research Professor at Swansea University in a part-time capacity.

His research interests lie in the area of “Coupled Processes” which investigates the burial of nuclear waste and the complex behaviour of water, gas, heat and chemicals below ground. His work has covered a wide range of geoenvironmental issues, from coupled multiphysics and geochemistry flow problems in soils and rocks, to waste disposal, including nuclear waste. His current interests are focused on the geoenergy field, with major projects on ground source heat, underground coal gasification, exploitation of unconventional gas and carbon sequestration in coal seams.

He has also worked extensively with the United Nation agencies, including the Industrial Development Organisation, UNESCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Professor Thomas’ academic achievements have been recognised by election as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2003, a Member of Academia Europaea, the Academy of Europe in 2012 and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales in 2011. He was made an Honorary Professor at Zhejiang University, China. He is currently the President of the Learned Society of Wales.

In 2013, the Geoenvironmental Research Centre was awarded the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of geoenvironmental solutions to major challenges of land, ground water quality and regeneration.

Beyond his research, Professor Thomas has distinguished himself as an international leader through his service as the Director of the School of Engineering at Cardiff University for 8 years from 2002 to 2010. He was subsequently a Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for a further 8-year period from 2010 to 2018. In 2017 he received a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List for his ‘Services to Academic Research and Higher Education’.

He is now Editor-In-Chief for Computers and Geotechnics, a Q1 Elsevier flagship journal in computational geomechanics.

Election to the CAS recognises Hywel Thomas on his world leadership in geoenvironmental engineering. Congratulations to him on this great honour.

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