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Phone: 02031081101

Ext: 51101

Office location: Rm 38, 2nd floor, South Wing, UCL Main Quadrangle


From MSc to Contributing to UK Government Policy on Space Weather

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Rachel Ewer 

April 2017

Studying space weather at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR) made it clear this field represents a key emerging risk for business sectors with employment prospects in policy, commercial operations, risk planning and business continuity. My dissertation on ‘The Impact of Space Weather on UK Business Continuity’ looked at the use of space weather forecasts by businesses to mitigate and manage potentially harmful impacts. Working with the UK Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC) I researched a cross-section of their forecast client group; I then evaluated the impacts of space weather on business, the level of awareness in key vulnerable sectors including critical infrastructure, how business continuity plans addressed these potential impacts, and the mitigation measures in place. Where there were gaps in knowledge, I highlighted areas where improvements could be made and offered recommendations. 

New research publication: Understanding the Economic Impact of Space Weather

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The Sun and conditions in space that contribute to space weather can impact on human activity and technology both in space, in the air and on Earth. In 1859, the largest space weather event ever recorded occurred, known as the Carrington event. In addition to the global aurora, telegraph operators reported sparks from their equipment and fires caused by the power surge. That happened at a time when technology was

Panel Discussion: Risk Finance for the Developing World 

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panel discussion

 8th March 2017

Last week, UCL partnered with DAI Europe to bring together panelists from UCL and wider academia, as well as public and private sector actors, including the risk modelling and insurance industries, to discuss the prevailing challenges in contemporary risk financing in today’s developing world.

Best Student Presentation Award at International Workshop

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Tasnuva Award

10th International Workshop on Statistical Seismology in Wellington, New Zealand, 20-24th February, 2017

UCL IRDR Projects Win Funding

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Projects led by UCL’s Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction and Department of Statistical Science are among 29 that have been backed by the Building Resilience research programme to tackle a range of life-threatening hazards, from droughts and land degradation to volcanoes, earthquakes and flooding. The programme, run by the NERC, ESRC and AHRC, forms part of the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF), a £1·5bn UK government fund to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

DTP ESRC funded PhD Research Studentships for October 2017

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Qualification type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Closes: 3rd February 2017

Job Alerts: Humanitarian KE Associate and Earthquake Teaching Fellow

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We are currently recruiting 2 exciting new posts in the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction:

UCL IRDR-CNDS Workshop Report, 26th-27th October, Uppsala University

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A joint workshop between UCL IRDR and CNDS (Center for Natural Disaster Science) was held at Uppsala University on 26-27 October; the latest activity in a long lasting collaboration. CNDS is one of the leading institutions on disaster studies in Sweden, consisting of Uppsala University, Swedish Defence College and Karlstad University. The Centre benefits from the support of several Swedish authorities, including the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

Motorola Solutions Foundation provide Scholarships for IRDR MSc Risk, Disaster and Resilience

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The IRDR are delighted to announce two scholarship opportunities through the Motorola Solutions Foundation. These are to assist high-level academic study of risk, disasters and resilience from a cross-disciplinary perspective with students from a wide variety of backgrounds in terms of discipline, experience and location.

AXA Research Fellowship: Call for Applications for UCL Shortlisting 2016/17

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AXA Research Fund

UCL triage application deadline: 27th October 2016

AXA full application deadline: 6th December 2016

Recent Publications from the IRDR

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IRDR Logo Black

Three papers have recently been published by members of the IRDR covering a wide range of topics related to risk and hazards. The three papers are summarised below, and links to the full texts are included.

Devastating earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, on 24 August 2016

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UCL IRDR's Joanna Faure Walker on CNN Amatrice EQ 2016

Summary and media appearances from UCL IRDR experts

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the Umbria and Lazio regions of central Italy at 3.36am local time (2.26am BST) yesterday (Wednesday 24th August). At the time of publishing, 159 people have been killed and the search and rescue operation is ongoing. The earthquake was felt as far away as Rome (160km away), Venice and Naples. The epicentral region is made up of many small villages, and is a popular holiday destination for Italians. Roads are small and the region is very mountainous, which appears to be hindering recovery efforts. 

Symposium on Facing Disasters: International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Responses

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UCL Fukushima Symposium

Based on experience from the Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, the aim of this public symposium held on the 28th July in UCL was to discuss how to build safety systems and resilience against future disasters in the region. Scientific views of, and human problems after the disaster were discussed with talks given by representatives of academia, industry and Japanese local government. The symposium keynote lecture was delivered by Prof. Peter Sammonds (Director, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction). Other speakers included two PhD students from the IRDR, Serena Tagliacozzo and Omar Velazquez Ortiz, who spoke about their experiences visiting the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant and the communications during and after the disaster.  Dr Ilan Kelman also spoke about maternal psychological heath following the disaster. More information about their visit to Japan can be found on the IRDR blog.

UCL IRDR Continuing Professional Development Courses, September 2016

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IRDR Logo Black

We are pleased to announce the launch of two exciting new UCL IRDR CPD courses:

  • Business risk and resilience in the face of disasters: a research based workshop for leaders

How to Write an Emergency Plan, by David Alexander, published in June 2016

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book cover

On 2nd June 2016 Dunedin Academic Press of Edinburgh and London published a new book by UCL-IRDR's Professor David Alexander. The title is How to Write an Emergency Plan.

June 16th 2016: Fourth Academic Summit "Disaster Risk Reduction and Human Mobility"

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Summit Photo Kim Trabant

On 16th June 2016 IRDR hosted the Fourth Academic Summit at UniversityCollege London. Like the previous three events in the series, this conference was designed to bring together academics and practitioners from the UK and beyond who are working in the field of disaster risk reduction. This year's event, devoted to "DRR and Human Mobility," was held in UCL's historic Gustave Tuck lecture theatre. There were three sessions during the summit. The first set the scene by examining the links between disasters and migration. The second integrated experience from the field and from studies of these two phenomena. The third considered what we, as experts on disaster, might be able to contribute to studies of the links between migration and disasters.

Tracing the surface ruptures of the Kumamoto earthquake (16th April 2016), Kyushu, Japan

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Figure 1 Zoe

On the 10-11th May, Zoë Mildon, a PhD student in the IRDR, assisted with mapping the surface ruptures from the recent Kumamoto earthquakes in Japan. She is currently on a four-month fellowship at IRIDeS (International Research Institute of Disaster Science) in Tohoku University, and was assisting Prof. Shinji Toda (IRIDeS) and Dr Daisuke Ishimura (formerly IRIDeS) with the field survey.

Launch of new UCL IRDR Continuing Professional Development Courses in September 2016

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IRDR Logo Black

We are pleased to announce the launch of two exciting new UCL IRDR CPD courses:

  • Business risk and resilience in the face of disasters: a research based workshop for leaders

Landslide Early Warning System Development in Chittagong, Bangladesh

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Bayes Certificate

Two members of the IRDR, Bayes Ahmed and Prof. David Alexander have been involved in a project in Bangladesh, developing a Web-GIS based early warning system for communities in Chittagong, Bangladesh that at risk of landslides. This project took place between June 2014 and September 2015 and involved fieldwork in the at risk areas.

IRDR members visit the Fukushima Prefecture

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By Serena Tagliacozzo

Six IRDR members recently visited the areas affected by the tsunami and the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011. The group consisted of four PhD students – Omar Velazquez, Nurmala Nurdin, Serena Tagliacozzo and Zoe Mildon, one Master’s student – Sandra Camacho Otero - and David Alexander, Professor of Disaster Risk Reduction at UCL IRDR.  Their experience has been covered in a recent blog post and in international newspapers (see here and here). Zoe Mildon, third year PhD student at UCL IRDR, is currently spending 4 months at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan - which is in the region affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster - after winning the prestigious JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) grant (read more).

Concluding Report of the IRDR Discussion Forum: Heritage and Disasters

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The UCL Institute for Risk and Disasters Reduction (IRDR) successfully held its public event in form of a panel discussion on Heritage and Disasters at UCL on 9th March from 18.00 to 21.00. Five panelists from academia and practice engaged in a vibrant and lively discussion on how to protect cultural heritage from disasters such as earthquakes and conflicts. There were 120 registrants from heritage and disaster studies and practice. It was exciting to see that most of attendees were from the heritage sector, e.g. museums, heritage studies and NGOs. The attendees enjoyed an interactive and thought-provoking discussion with the panelists.  A drinks reception during which attendees could network and continue their informal discussions followed the discussion.

International Workshop in Bangkok on Groundwater Resilience

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IRDR Research Fellow, Dr. Mohammad Shamsudduha (Shams) is coordinating an International Workshop on "Resilience of Groundwater Systems to Climate Change and Human Development" in Bangkok, Thailand from 7th to 11th February 2016. The British Council, together with the Thailand Research Fund, is supporting this international workshop through the Researcher Links Programme. This workshop will for the first time enable numerous young researchers and academics from both UK and Thailand to meet and brainstorm on the topic of groundwater resilience - an issue critical for adaptation to climate change and human development. The workshop is co-convened by UCL IRDR and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), Thailand. Dr Shamsudduha is leading the UK team of 16 young researchers and academics from 10 different universities across the UK. Associate Professor, Dr. Uma Seeboonruang is leading the Thai team of 24 scientists, several early career researchers and a cohort of graduate students from across Thailand. This workshop aims at establishing a long-lasting research collaboration and network between UCL and KMITL and other Thai research institutes.

The IRDR goes to AGU 2015

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sally agu

In December 2015, a contingent of researchers from the IRDR travelled to San Francisco, USA, to present talks and posters at the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. The Fall Meeting is the largest annual conference in earth science, and brings together almost 24,000 academics and practitioners. The attendees from the IRDR included both PhD students (Amy Chadderton, Sally Scourfield, Luke Wedmore, Katerina Stavrianaki) and faculty (Dr. Gordon Ross and Prof. Peter Sammonds). Our IRDR representatives gave a range of oral and poster presentations, including volcanic and earthquake processes and ice friction. This highlights the diversity of research that the IRDR now undertakes in the natural sciences.

Urban Change in Iran

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Urban Change in Iran Book Cover

The start of year 2016 saw the publication of a new book entitled Urban Change in Iranco-edited by Dr. Farnaz Arefian  (UCL-IRDR).  Published by Springer International Publishing, the book provides an in depth case study for understanding complexities of urban transformation, using cross-disciplinary perspectives. This book, based on conference excerpts, investigates various aspects of contemporary Iranian urbanism. 

IRDR Alumni Dinner

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alumni dinner

Reflecting the growing body of IRDR graduates, the Institute held its second annual Alumni Dinner in November. The event was attended by a number of IRDR members, associates and returning scholars, as well as current staff and students.

New UCL-IRDR & CNDS network established: call for researchers working on disasters-related topics across UCL

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CNDS Photo

The Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at UCL is promoting and improving collaboration with the Center for Natural Disaster Science (CNDS) in Sweden. The CNDS includes brings together several organisations including Uppsala University, Karlstad University and Swedish Defense College. Two postgraduate students initiated the collaboration last year and it has resulted in a visit to Sweden (funded by the Uppsala Forum grant) and a student-led doctoral workshop on Disaster Research last June at UCL. The workshop had thirty-two attendees, mixed between academics and students, coming from several departments at UCL and CNDS. A summary of the topics discussed can be found here. We intend to expand our network to anyone, either student or senior academic, who is working on disaster-related topics across UCL departments. This collaboration is cross-disciplinary and its aim is to develop a better understanding of how to reduce the impacts of disasters. To achieve this goal, we believe it is crucial to establish a collaboration and partnership between researchers coming from a range of disciplines and research institutes based in different countries.

Young Scientist Award for IRDR PhD Student

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Omar Conference

Dr Carmine Galasso and Omar Velazquez have attended and presented their work on ‘Engineering Applications of Earthquake Early Warning’ at the 'Earthquake and Induced Multi-Risk Early Warning and Rapid Response' workshop in Luxembourg, between the 18th and the 20th of November.

Now recruiting: Enterprise and Promotions Manager. Application deadline Friday 11th December

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UCL IRDR is seeking to appoint an enterprise and promotions manager. This post is available for 1 year in the first instance and is full time (though a fractional appointment or job-share would be considered).

Communicating water monitoring in Bolivia

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Reworking mine tailings

Dr Megan French of the UCL IRDR recently completed her project on assessing water risk from mining on the Bolivian Altiplano, working with Dr Stephen Edwards (UCL Hazard Centre and IRDR) and Professor Karen Hudson-Edwards (Birkbeck, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences). The project was co-funded by the IRDR and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and was undertaken in collaboration with CENDA (Centro de Comunicación y Desarrollo Andino) in Bolivia. A lot was learned about the challenges of undertaking research to provide usable results at community level. The biggest impact has been the use of the results of the study to raise awareness of water quality and availability issues in the Pazña and Poopó sub-basins at government and community levels. The outcome is that the research has enabled CENDA to work with the Bolivian Vice Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation to set up the Water Quality Monitoring System for the Poopó and Pazña Rivers, with the participation of the Regional Government of Oruro, the municipal governments of Poopó and Pazña, community water monitoring groups and local actors. A key achievement is the involvement of communities, as this gives legitimacy to the work of communities and civil society organisations in Bolivia. For more information, please contact Stephen Edwards at

Call for UCL Applications for AXA Research Fund post-doctoral Fellowships

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AXA Research Fund

The 2015 AXA Research Fund (ARF) Post-doctoral Research Fellowship Scheme will open in late November. This year UCL will be allowed to put forward up to 4 candidates to apply for this scheme (exact number TBC in mid-November). In anticipation of receiving a quota and of there being more interested candidates than allocated places, we are now inviting proposals from candidates wishing to be put forward by UCL. Research proposals should focus on a better understanding of risk (where the word risk is connected to phenomena that are perceived - or yet to be perceived - as hazards or threats and which must be identified and measured for frequency and impact.)

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