UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction


IRDR Newsletter: Apr 2012

12 April 2012

From the Director

The UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR) is rapidly expanding: we are making new appointments and will move shortly into newly refurbished space in the South Wing (Wilkins Building). We had an exceptional response to our advertisement for a Professor in Risk and Disaster Reduction resulting in a strong international slate of candidates. Short-listed candidates for the chair will be making research presentations on Thursday 19th April from 10.00 to 12.00 in the Pearson Lecture Theatre (Pearson Building: ground floor, entrance from the Front Quad at the junction with the Slade School). All are welcome to attend.

We are delighted to announce three new IRDR research appointments. Dr Mohammad Shamsudduha was appointed in March as a 3-year IRDR Research Associate under an EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Award (Project title: Delivering guidance on arsenic-safe, sustainable groundwater supplies for Bangladesh). “Shams” holds a BSc and MSc in geology from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, an MSc in hydrogeology from the Sydney University of Technology, Australia, an MSc in geology from Auburn University, USA and a PhD in hydrogeology from UCL. He will initially work on an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award on “Groundwater dynamics and arsenic mobilisation in Bangladesh: a national-scale characterisation”. Dr Megan French was also appointed in March for 3 years as an IRDR-CAFOD Research Associate working on “Water risk and its management in Bolivia’s Altiplano development strategy”. Megan holds a BSc and MRes (Master of Research) in environmental science from Lancaster University and a PhD in marine chemistry from the University of East Anglia. She recently worked for Veolia Water UK. Dr Ben Lishman was appointed in April to a 3-year IRDR Research Fellowship in the area of Arctic engineering risk. Ben holds an MEng, an MPhil and a PhD from Cambridge University in engineering. He has worked at UCL and most recently has been a research associate at Bristol University. We also welcome Filippos Vallianatos as Visiting Professor. Filippos is a distinguished professor of earthquake physics at the Technological Institute of Crete, Greece. He previously held a senior Marie Curie Fellowship at UCL and currently jointly supervises three PhD research students in the IRDR.

IRDR Teaching Portal has been launched and can be found from the IRDR website at ucl.ac.uk/rdr/teaching. If you have a relevant postgraduate programme you wish to be listed please contact the IRDR Administrator, Lucy Stanbrough: l.stanbrough@ucl.ac.uk.

And finally up-and-coming events include the second IRDR Annual Conference on the 21st June, the IRDR Anthropology and Sociology Forum, and the IRDR-sponsored conference on Urban Change in Iran, details about which can be found below.

Peter Sammonds
Director, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

About the Institute

[image reference is broken]

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, floods and storms destroy lives and damage economies across the globe; pandemics have the potential to bring death and suffering on an unprecedented scale; while climate change may increase the severity of both natural and health disasters.

How society sees risk, how to link understanding of the causative mechanics to statistical approaches, and how to increase resilience and reduce the risk of disasters are common themes cutting across research in natural, environmental, health and technological hazards.

Reducing global risks and disasters presents a colossal challenge that requires coordinated and collaborative action.

UCL is uniquely well-placed to lead research and teaching in risk and disaster reduction, with at least 70 academics across 12 departments and seven faculties involved in world-class research and practice in the field.

To maximise the impact and value of our activities in risk and disaster reduction, and to increase and enhance interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation, we propose to bring together individual areas of expertise, under the umbrella of a UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, built around established centres across UCL.

We also seek to contribute to the UCL Grand Challenges of Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.


[image reference is broken]

1. IRDR Annual Conference, 2012 We will hold the second IRDR Annual Conference on the Thursday 21st June. This will be a one-day event of thought-provoking lectures and discussions, followed by our summer party. We extend an invitation to all in the UCL community, our associates and partners, and to those from outside interested in engaging with risk and disaster reduction, to join us. The morning will commence with a specialist session on Risk Communication, a developing research theme for the IRDR, with speakers who include Anita Friend from the Cabinet Office and Gordon Woo from Risk Management Solutions (RMS).  This will be followed by a panel-discussion session on Natural Hazards and Critical Infrastructure, with panellists who include Virginia Murray from the Health Protection Agency and Mark Offord from Sellafield. The keynote lecture in the afternoon will be delivered by Professor Christopher Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development. This will be followed by Andy Stirling, professor of Science and Technology Policy at Sussex University, in conversation on “Uncertainty in assessing environmental risks”.

A poster session will run through the day: abstracts should be sent by the 4th May to Rosanna Smith (rosanna.smith@ucl.ac.uk).

Further details about the conference and registration are available at ucl.ac.uk/rdr.

2. IRDR Anthropology and Sociology Forum We will convene an IRDR Anthropology and Sociology Forum for Friday 1st June from 3.00 to 6.00pm. The forum will take the form of a presentation by a keynote speaker, presentations by researchers and an open discussion, followed by drinks. We again extend the invitation to potential partners outside UCL - academic, commercial, governmental, non-governmental. For further information please contact me: p.sammonds@ucl.ac.uk

3. International Conference on Urban Change in Iran The IRDR is sponsoring an international conference on Urban Change in Iran at UCL (8-9th November). The conference’s primary goal is to provide an international forum for analysing the dynamics of urban change and the ways in which this dynamism can be managed. It is also aimed at path-finding future directions by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Of particular interest for the conference are the socio-cultural aspects of urban transformation, the impacts of exposure to natural hazards and the way in which they have been responded to.


  • Registration 22 March – 1 September 2012
  • Late Registration On or after 1 September 2012

Submission (extended)

  • Submission of abstracts 15 May 2012
  • Notification of abstracts acceptance 30 May 2012
  • Submission of full papers 15 July 2012
  • Announcement of accepted papers 15 August 2012
  • Submission of camera ready papers 15 September 2012 and presentations

For more details about guiding questions, registration or submission of your abstract please follow the conference link on urban-change-in-iran.org


[image reference is broken]

1. Dickens's London The IRDR event in March was a great success, with over 200 people attending a panel discussion chaired by the broadcaster and UCL Fellow Mark Lawson, which examined the urban environment and the public health issues of his time and the resonances for rapidly developing global cities of today. A Dickens’s London Exhibition was held in the North Cloisters put on jointly with the UCL English Department and the UCL Library and Special Collections.

A podcast of the panel discussion and an exhibition website of the special collection display will be made available in the coming month for those who were unable to attend.

2. A year on from Tohoku On a more sombre note, Rosanna Smith, the IRDR Deputy Director, attended the One-year Memorial of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster in Sendai, Japan. At the Forum, she signed a Joint Statement on behalf of UCL for international research collaboration with Tohoku University and the incubation of a global research network to mitigate disasters and build resilient communities. If you are interested in the network please contact her at: rosanna.smith@ucl.ac.uk.

Join the Institute

[image reference is broken]

1. Become a member of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction Reducing global risks and disasters presents a colossal challenge that requires coordinated and collaborative action. UCL is uniquely well placed to lead research in risk and disaster reduction, with at least 70 academics across 12 departments and 7 faculties involved in world-class research, teaching and practice in the field.

To become a member of the Institute complete the form at the following link http://www.ucl.ac.uk/rdr/join/


You are receiving this email because you are on the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction database, as wanting to receive information about the Institute. If you wish to stop receiving these emails, revise your current contact options or update other information we hold about you, please visit the subscription page at https://www.mailinglists.ucl.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/irdr-info