Felipe was born in San Fernando, O’Higgins Region, Chile. He got a bachelor and a master’s degree in mining engineering from the University of Chile in 2012. After that, he worked at an engineering company (HATCH) and at the institute for research in Mining of CODELCO (ex IM2). In November 2013, he moved to Switzerland to start a PhD in Geomechanics. He got his degree last November and he left Switzerland for Japan to spend some time off with his partner who is a postdoctoral researcher at Hokkaido University.

He will move soon to Santiago to start his career in academia as an assistant professor in rock mechanics in the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Chile (www.minas.uchile.cl).

Felipe and Domingo are in a civil union since 2015.

Contact information:

Email (work): luisfelipe.orellana@ing.uchile.cl


  1. What brought you to work / study in Switzerland?

Honestly, I arrived in Switzerland by chance. Because my partner and I have different research fields, we applied for PhD positions in several countries. I was searching a doctoral program in rock mechanics, mainly in Australia and Canada. Domingo was doing the same but mainly in Europe. At the end we ended up looking everywhere and I saw an open position in geomechanics at EPFL. I applied there but also to three or four other universities in Australia, the UK and Canada. Same did Domingo. At the end, I got the position in Switzerland and Domingo in Australia, each of us fully funded an in our topics.


  1. How was your experience working in Switzerland? What would you highlight as the most relevant during this time?

I had a rocky start but over time my experience in Switzerland was great. For that I have a lot to thank my former supervisor Prof. Marie Violay. I am very grateful to her for all the opportunities she gave me and for inviting me to be a part of the team she built.

For me, living abroad was not always easy. For all the support I received from all my friends and colleagues, getting to know them is the most important takeaways of my time in Lausanne.


  1. Do you think that your work can be applied to solve a problem in Chile? What would be this problem and how would your work help to solve it?

My research area is geomechanics. In particular, I mainly deal with rocks, their properties and how they deform under different geological conditions. This knowledge is fundamental to understand different solid earth processes such as faulting and earthquakes, and it has countless applications in mining, geothermal energy or underground waste storage. For that there is many applications in Chile since it is an eminently mining country known also for its geological hazards.

About underground mining, for instance, we will need to study how rocks and geological faults will behave at deeper environments since mineral resources at shallow depths will gradually become exhausted.


  1. What are your expectations regarding the development of your research topic in Chile?

As I already introduce before, rock mechanics is an area that has an enormous impact in Chile even though sometimes is very difficult to see it at first sight. The development of rock and fault mechanics is very important for instance to better understand natural and induced earthquakes and how they are generated. In addition, rock mechanics plays a fundamental role in the mining industry and soon, I hope, in the development of geothermal energy. There are different challenges in all these areas to which I hope to make a contribution in the near future.


  1. What are your short-term plans, from here on, in professional terms?

I am starting a tenure track assistant professor position at the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Chile, Santiago. I will join the Department in March 2019. I hope to be a good teacher and researcher in the field of rock mechanics and contribute when possible to the local affairs regarding the sustainability of the earth resources industry.


  1. What would be your message/advice for Chileans that arrive to study/work in Switzerland?

Switzerland is a very nice place to live, work and/or study. I had some of my best years here. My main advice is do not expect things to be essentially easier or similar to Chile. They don’t have to and sometimes they are not. As any country you have pros and cons, so be patient, get use to and you will finally enjoy living here.


  1. What would be in your opinion the most relevant considerations to make before coming to study/work in Switzerland?

I will instead suggest the following. Check the webpage of ICES, find Chilean mates in the city you are going to study. I am 100% sure they will help you to deal with bureaucracy. They will also help you find apartment which is the most difficult thing in my experience in Switzerland or at least in Lausanne. Also, check very well your alternatives for your health insurance.

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