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) 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 (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. 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 free download from figshare. A recent article on the spatial correlation of earthquake ground motions is available here.

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


Evaluating alternative approaches for the seismic design of structures
Gkimprixis Athanasios, Tubaldi Enrico, Douglas John
Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering Vol 18, pp. 4331-4361 (2020)
Engineering students perceptions of legacy value from their participation in an Outward Bound course
Murray Michael, Pytharouli Stella, Douglas John
8th International Symposium of Engineering Education (ISEE)2020 (2020)
Improving earthquake ground-motion predictions for the North Sea
Brooks Christopher, Douglas John, Shipton Zoe
Journal of Seismology Vol 24, pp. 343-362 (2020)
Modelling the spatial correlation of earthquake ground motion : insights from the literature, data from the 2016-2017 central Italy earthquake sequence and ground-motion simulations
Schiappapietra Erika, Douglas John
Earth-Science Reviews Vol 203 (2020)
Nomogram to help explain probabilistic seismic hazard
Douglas John, Danciu Laurentiu
Journal of Seismology Vol 24, pp. 221–228 (2020)
Spatial correlation of ground motions in the 2016-2017 Central Italy seismic sequence
Schiappapietra Erika, Douglas John
SECED 2019 Conference (2019)

More publications


  • Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor
  • CL329/CL332 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics and Probability), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (sole lecturer)
  • CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)
  • CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor)

Research interests

Academic mission statement: My research group develop 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. I attended a Frontiers of Development event organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering on Disaster Resilience on these topics in March 2020. 

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. 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 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. A video briefly summarising this work is also available.

Professional activities

37th General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission
37th General Assembly of the European Seismological Commission
Earth-Science Reviews (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Heliyon (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Earthquake Spectra (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Quoted in media publication

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
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)
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
Engineering the Future Studentship Carolina Volpini with Halcrow Group Limited (CH2M Hill)
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2019
Consultancy for Fircroft
Douglas, John (Principal Investigator)
Reviewer of the ground-motion prediction part of the Groningen induced seismicity risk assessment
06-Jan-2015 - 28-Jan-2015

More projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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