Born in Belgium, Frédéric Herman studied civil engineering at the University of Liège, then went to the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
This Erasmus experience proved to be the foundation of his career: living in an international flat, he was immersed in an intense intellectual stimulation and discovered the richness of exchanges between different horizons. A BBC documentary on the techniques of Earth Sciences applied to the Himalayas was the decisive moment: it was decided that from now on he would adopt a mixed posture based on quantitative approaches applied to the field of Earth Sciences.
Canberra opened its arms to him during a PhD with Professor Jean Braun at the Australian National University. It was there that he learned what research really is and started to work on the interactions between climate, erosion and tectonics, which gradually made him aware of current climate issues.
One day, by a happy coincidence, he met Professor Jean-Philippe Avouac, the scientist of the famous BBC documentary he had seen in Bristol. After a few exchanges, he was offered a post-doctorate on tectonic and erosion processes in central Nepal at the California Institute of Technology, where he was confronted with the best of science.
In 2007, he joined the ETH Zurich and fell in love with Zurich. As a senior scientist, he was able to develop most of his ideas there, including a research program on the interactions between climate and land surface processes.
In 2012, as his work began to gain international recognition, he received several job offers, including from oil companies and prestigious American universities. He turned them down and chose to join the University of Lausanne to set up a research group at the Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, first as a Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique grant professor, then as an associate professor.
In 2018, he was elected Dean of the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment (FGSE), a role he held for three years. In 2019 he was promoted to full professor. Convinced of the need for interdisciplinary thinking at the interface of the human, natural and social sciences, he expresses the firm will to place open-mindedness and cross-disciplinary discussions at the service of excellence and societal advances.
On August 1, 2021, he became the new Rector of the University of Lausanne and will now put all his energy and vision for the future at the service of the institution.