Dr John Douglas

Senior Lecturer

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Personal statement

Welcome to my university webpages.

I am a Senior 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 apply my skills in practice, e.g. as an expert within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. I teach classes on statistics and probability, and computer programming. I am the department's deputy director for internationalisation.

I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London, following a BSc. Hons (first class) undergraduate degree in Mathematics also at Imperial College London. Following two and a half years as a post-doctoral researcher (Research Associate) 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. For example, I led BRGM's contribution to the multi-risk ThinkHazard! website from the GFDRR. 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 for more information. A summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, an overview of this topic from 2022 is available for view here and some introductory slides are available for free download from figshare. As example of some research work, an article on the spatial correlation of earthquake ground motions is available here, which is part of a collaboration with Aon Impact Forecasting.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy or Knowledge Exchange Partnerships) 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).


Has expertise in:

Prizes and awards

Celebrating Innovation and Resilience at Strathclyde: Awards and Examples of Good Practice During the COVID Pandemic (2020/21)
Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)

More prizes and awards


Chartered Scientist

Chartered Mathematician

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications

Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers

Member of the Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics

Member of the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team

Member of the European Association of Earthquake Engineering


Variations in hazard during earthquake sequences between 1995 and 2018 in western Greece as evaluated by a Bayesian ETAS model
Azarbakht Alireza, Ebrahimian Hossein, Jalayer Fatemeh, Douglas John
Geophysical Journal International Vol 231, pp. 27-46 (2022)
Opportunities for the development of professional skills for undergraduate civil and environmental engineers
Murray Mike, Pytharouli Stella, Douglas John
European Journal of Engineering Education Vol 47, pp. 793-813 (2022)
Decision support system for earthquake risk mitigation for hospitals and health facilities
Haji Bashi Sarvenaz Amini, Azarbakht Alireza, Douglas John
Third European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (2022)
Decision support system for community earthquake drills and evacuation
Azarbakht Alireza, Douglas John
Third European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, pp. 1-7 (2022)
Methods for assessing the epistemic uncertainty captured in ground-motion models
Aldama-Bustos Guillermo, Douglas John, Strasser Fleur, Davi Manuela, MacGregor Alice
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering (2022)
Exploring the impact of spatial correlations of earthquake ground motions in the catastrophe modelling process : a case study for Italy
Schiappapietra E, Stripajová S, Pažák P, Douglas J, Trendafiloski G
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering Vol 20, pp. 5747-5773 (2022)

More publications


  • Department's Deputy Director of Internationalisation
  • Department's Director for International Joint Education Programme with Yunnan University (about 100 students per year)
  • Engineering Mathematics (Statistics and Probability, and Computer Programming using Python), Year 3, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (sole lecturer), 80 to 100 students per year
  • Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor), 3 or 4 students per year. In addition, I run individual statistics clinics (on average 5 students per year).
  • MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor), 2 or 3 students per year

Research interests

Academic mission statement: My research group develops statistical and numerical models to improve the assessment of seismic hazard and risk, and thereby reducing losses due to future earthquakes worldwide.

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 often 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. 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.

Many of my contributions have led to improved ground-motion models. During my PhD I authored a report summarizing all models published worldwide since the 1960s. In the two decades since, I have updated this report many times and it is used globally in many research (e.g., Global Earthquake Model), governmental (e.g., national seismic hazard maps) and commercial (e.g., nuclear projects) studies. This compendium was the basis of my 2003 and 2016 Earth-Science Reviews articles that provide comprehensive and critical reviews of empirical models. In 2005 I co-authored a pair of articles that provided state-of-the-art horizontal and vertical models for Europe and the Middle East. In 2014 I led an initiative to develop an updated set of models for Europe and the Middle East using a variety of techniques. In 2013 I led the development of the first model for the prediction of ground motions from geothermally-induced earthquakes, which is used regularly in hazard assessments for induced seismicity. Recently I pioneered the use of backbone ground-motion models for hazard mapping in Europe.

About a decade ago I led the first implementation in Europe of the risk-targeting approach for the development of seismic building codes. This work has inspired similar work in many countries, and led to the first set of consistent fragility functions for risk-targeting ever published. Through a PhD project, we recently put this work on a firmer theoretical basis and extended it towards design using life-cycle costs and for insurance in articles in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Again, this is inspiring efforts by many other researchers.

I am regularly invited as a ground-motion expert in flagship seismic hazard assessments, such as for Hinkley Point C, the first UK nuclear power plant to successfully pass through the regulatory approval process since the 1990s, and to sit on international peer review panels of such assessments, e.g. for the Groningen gas field (The Netherlands), and chairing the 12-member international scientific committee overseeing the research undertaken in the SIGMA-2 project for EDF (France). These roles have inspired much of my research over the past decade as well as leading directly to some landmark publications, e.g. 2016 International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines and two articles on the Hinkley Point C seismic hazard assessment.

Professional activities

Assessing the Value of Information in Site-Response Analysis
Third European Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Seismology
Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) (External organisation)
Creator and leader of online group project “Designing a resilient town”
SIGMA2 Closing Symposium
Member of programme committee

More professional activities


Building Resilience to Interacting Extreme Weather-Driven Hazards and Cascading Impacts
White, Chris (Principal Investigator) Douglas, John (Co-investigator)
18-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2022
Reviewer for a report on a site-specific PSHA
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
21-Jan-2021 - 31-Jan-2021
Investigating approaches to encourage seismic retrofitting in less-developed countries
Tubaldi, Enrico (Co-investigator) Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
Funder: Royal Academy of Engineering
Award: £18,500
13-Jan-2020 - 12-Jan-2021
Cost-benefit analyses to assess the potential of Operational Earthquake Forecasting in Europe
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator) Azarbakht Banakdeh, Alireza (Co-investigator)
Funded by EPSRC Vacation Internship
25-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2020
Expert Seismic Advice to EDF FEGO 2020
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2020
Towards more Earthquake-resilient Urban Societies through a Multi-sensor-based Information System enabling Earthquake Forecasting, Early Warning and Rapid Response Systems (TURNKEY)
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator) Perry, Marcus (Co-investigator) Roberts, Jen (Co-investigator) Tubaldi, Enrico (Co-investigator) Zonta, Daniele (Co-investigator)
Towards more Earthquake-resilient Urban Societies through a Multi-sensor-based Information System enabling Earthquake Forecasting, Early Warning and Rapid Response actions
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2022

More projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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