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 seek to apply my skills in practice, e.g. as an expert 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) 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 (e.g. 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 to obtain more details. A summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, an overview of this topic from 2021 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).

Expertise

Has expertise in:

Prizes and awards

Celebrating Innovation and Resilience at Strathclyde: Awards and Examples of Good Practice During the COVID Pandemic (2020/21)
Recipient
11/2021
Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)
Recipient
9/2011

More prizes and awards

Qualifications

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

Publications

Site response analysis of anchorage, Alaska using generalized inversions of strong-motion data
Thornley John, Douglas John, Dutta Uptal, Yang Zhaohui (Joey)
Pure and Applied Geophysics (2022)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-022-02945-w
A decision-making approach for operational earthquake forecasting
Azarbakht Alireza, Rudman Archie John, Douglas John
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction Vol 66 (2021)
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102591
Evaluation of horizontal to vertical spectral ratio and standard spectral ratio methods for mapping shear wave velocity across Anchorage, Alaska
Thornley John D, Dutta Utpal, Douglas John, Yang Zhaohui (Joey)
Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering Vol 150 (2021)
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soildyn.2021.106918
Engineering site response analysis of Anchorage, Alaska using site amplifications and random vibration theory
Thornley John, Douglas John, Dutta Utpal, Yang Zhaohui
Earthquake Spectra (2021)
https://doi.org/10.1177/87552930211065482
Using Repeat Photography for Hazard and Risk Communication
Douglas John
(2021)
Assessment of the uncertainty in spatial-correlation models for earthquake ground motion due to station layout and derivation method
Schiappapietra Erika, Douglas John
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering Vol 19, pp. 5415-5438 (2021)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10518-021-01179-w

More publications

Teaching

  • Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor, on average about 20 incoming and 20 outgoing students per year
  • CL329/CL331 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics and Probability), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (sole lecturer), 80 to 100 students per year
  • CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor), on average 3 students per year. In addition, I run individual statistics clinics (on average 5 students per year).
  • CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor), on average 2 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 in order to reduce 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 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. Concerning these topics, I am currently PI of a project funded by the Frontiers of Development programme on "Investigating approaches to encourage seismic retrofitting in less-developed countries"

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, also see this journal article on the overall approach and this one for details). Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and oil and gas sectors. Currently, I am a workpackage leader and joint technical lead of the H2020 TURNkey project improving operational earthquake forecasting, earthquake early warning and the rapid response to earthquakes.

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 global compendium of published models, which now number many hundreds. An article on capturing epistemic uncertainties within ground-motion models has been published in association with my Theme Lecture at the 16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in June 2018. A video providing an overview of ground-motion prediction is available.

Professional activities

SIGMA2 Closing Symposium
Member of programme committee
31/5/2022
Barzi Mohammed Ali
Host
13/11/2021
UK-Turkish workshop on NET: New technologies and participatory approaches for disaster resilience
Participant
21/10/2021
Journal of the Geological Society (Journal)
Peer reviewer
10/2021
Estimating earthquake ground motions: Background, methods and challenges
Speaker
1/10/2021
Journal of Applied Geophysics (Journal)
Peer reviewer
9/2021

More professional activities

Projects

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
Assessment of the limits and potentials of earthquake early warning systems for Europe
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
Funded by a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship
27-Jan-2019 - 02-Jan-2019

More projects

Address

Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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