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).


Has expertise in:

Prizes and awards

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

Associate of the Centre for Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics

Member of the UK Alliance for Disaster Research


Using Repeat Photography for Hazard and Risk Communication
Douglas John
Seismic risk management through insurance and its sensitivity to uncertainty in the hazard model
Gkimprixis Athanasios, Douglas John, Tubaldi Enrico
Natural Hazards Vol 108, pp. 1629-1657 (2021)
A decision-making approach for operational earthquake forecasting
Azarbakht Alireza, Rudman Archie John, Douglas John
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction Vol 66 (2021)
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)
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)
Accessing European strong-motion data : an update on ORFEUS Coordinated Services
Lanzano Giovanni, Luzi Lucia, Cauzzi Carlo, Bienkowski Jarek, Bindi Dino, Clinton John, Cocco Massimo, D'Amico Maria, Douglas John, Faenza Licia, Felicetta Chiara, Gallovič František, Giardini Domenico, Ktenidou Olga-Joan, Lauciani Valentino, Manakou Maria, Marmureanu A, Maufroy Emeline, Michelini Alberto, Özener H, Puglia Rodolfo, Rupakhety Rajesh, Russo Emiliano, Shahvar Mohammad, Sleeman knmi, Theodoulidis Nikos
Seismological Research Letters Vol 92, pp. 1642-1658 (2021)

More publications


  • 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 briefly summarising this work is also available.

Professional activities

SIGMA2 Closing Symposium
Member of programme committee
Invited keynote lecture on ground-motion prediction
Estimating earthquake ground motions: Background, methods and challenges
37th General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission
37th General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission
Journal of Applied Geophysics (Journal)
Peer reviewer

More professional activities


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, 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
Expert Seismic Advice to EDF FEGO 2019
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2019

More projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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