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Dr John Douglas

Strathclyde Chancellor'S Fellow

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Personal statement

Welcome to my university webpages.

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow (Lecturer) in the Centre for Intelligent Infrastructure within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My principal research interests are improving hazard and risk evaluations for natural perils, in particular earthquakes (engineering seismology and earthquake engineering). Through various knowledge exchange activities (including consultancies) I seek to apply my skills in practice, e.g. within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. My teaching and administrative responsibilities include being departmental exchange coordinator.

I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London, following a BSc. Hons (first class) in Mathematics also at Imperial College London. Following two years as a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial, I was a senior engineering seismologist at BRGM (French Geological Survey) from 2004 until 2015 during which time I was involved in research, public service and commercial projects in many aspects of risk evaluation for various natural perils. From 2009 to 2014 I was a visiting professor at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, University of Iceland.

Please visit the Expertise tab for a list of my research interests and the Research tab, the Teaching tab and the Publications tab to obtain more details. An summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, a recent presentation on my research is available for view here and some introductory slides are available for download from figshare. My contribution to a panel discussion on the impact of induced seismicity for the insurance industry can be viewed here. A recent open-access article on ground motions from large earthquakes is available for free download here.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy) collaborations. I am particularly interested to hear from fully-funded students interested in doing a PhD under my supervision and PhD holders looking to apply for post-doctoral fellowships (e.g. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships , Newton International Fellowships or Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowships). Before contacting me about PhDs please consult this page concerning applications ("How can I apply?" tab) and fees ("Fees & funding tab). Information on potential scholarships is available on this page (select "Postgraduate Research" in the "Level of study" drop-down menu).

Expertise

Has expertise in:

Prizes and awards

Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)
Recipient
9/2011

more prizes and awards

Publications

Development of fragility curves for use in seismic risk targeting
Gkimprixis Athanasios, Douglas John, Tubaldi Enrico, Zonta Daniele
16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering, (2018)
Using Bayesian networks for the assessment of underwater scour for road and railway bridges
Maroni Andrea, Tubaldi Enrico, Douglas John, Ferguson Neil, Zonta Daniele, McDonald Hazel, Walker Douglas, Greenoak Euan, Green Christopher
Structural Faults and Repair and European Bridge Conference 2018, (2018)
Calibrating the backbone approach for the development of earthquake ground motion models
Douglas J.
Best Practice in Physics-based Fault Rupture Models for Seismic Hazard Assessment of Nuclear Installations : Issues and Challenges Towards Full Seismic Risk Analysis, (2018)
Do French macroseismic intensity observations agree with expectations from the European Seismic Hazard Model 2013?
Rey Julien, Beauval Céline, Douglas John
Journal of Seismology Vol 22, pp. 589-604, (2018)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10950-017-9724-7
Capturing geographically-varying uncertainty in earthquake ground motion models or what we think we know may change
Douglas John
Recent Advances in Earthquake Engineering in EuropeGeotechnical, Geological and Earthquake Engineering, (2018)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75741-4_6
Risk targeting in seismic design codes : the state of the art, outstanding issues and possible paths forward
Douglas John, Gkimprixis Athanasios
Seismic Hazard and Risk AssessmentSpringer Natural Hazards, (2018)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74724-8_14

more publications

Teaching

Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor

CL329/CL332 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 2 (sole lecturer)

CL931/CL986/CL939 Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods, MSc., 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (contributing lecturer)

CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL516 MEng Dissertation, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor)

Research interests

To evaluate the potential impact of a natural peril (e.g. an earthquake) it is necessary to consider the following three aspects:

  • hazard (e.g. how the ground shakes during an earthquake);
  • vulnerability (e.g. how a building responds to this shaking); and
  • exposure (e.g. how many of these buildings are in the zone of interest).

The combination of these three factors provides an estimate of the risk, which expresses the chance that a certain undesirable event (e.g. building collapse) may occur. It is important to distinguish between the hazard, which cannot be altered, and the risk, which can be reduced (mitigated) by lowering the vulnerability and exposure of the building stock as well as increasing the resilience of the community.

My research aims to improve earthquake risk evaluation for engineering purposes, in particular through the characterisation and, ideally, reduction of uncertainties in seismic hazard assessments. It is important that the hazard be neither over- nor under-estimated. Examples of the latter are dramatically displayed by damage to buildings that were constructed in accordance with the expected ground motion in the region. An over-estimated hazard leads to higher construction costs for seismic resistance, which consumes resources that could be better spent tackling other problems.

My research addresses various UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 9 'Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation'  and SDG 11 'Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable', as well as the challenges highlighted in the UK Strategy for the Global Challenges Research Fund, in particular 'resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change' and 'sustainable cities and communities'. I wrote a crowdsourced brief on these topics in 2015.

I am particularly interested in problems related to hazard and risk assessments for the energy  sector. For example, high-importance power facilities such as nuclear power plants must consider the impact of earthquakes (e.g. recent consultancy concerning Hinkley Point C). Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and oil and gas sectors.

As an engineering seismologist, one of my main interests is improving ground-motion prediction, i.e. providing better models of the shaking to expect at a site given a particular earthquake at a certain distance. Such models are a basis of seismic hazard assessment. I maintain a compendium of published models, which now number many hundreds. A recent article on capturing epistemic uncertainties within ground-motion models has recently been published in association with my Theme Lecture at the 16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in June 2018.

Professional activities

Provisional title "History and future of European ground-motion models"
Invited speaker
12/11/2018
16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Member of programme committee
18/6/2018
16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Invited speaker
18/6/2018
16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Participant
18/6/2018
Best Practice in Physics-based Fault Rupture Models for Seismic Hazard Assessment of Nuclear Installations : Issues and Challenges Towards Full Seismic Risk Analysis
Keynote/plenary speaker
14/5/2018
Swiss National Science Foundation (External organisation)
Advisor
5/2018

more professional activities

Projects

Consultancy for Fircroft
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
Reviewer of the ground-motion prediction part of the Groningen induced seismicity risk assessment
Period 06-Jul-2015 - 28-Oct-2015

more projects

Address

Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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