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Phone: 02031081101

Ext: 51101

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


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.)

IRDR 5th Annual Conference Report

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Arctic Panorama

The UCL IRDR Fifth Annual Conference marked five years since the launch of the Institute, and another year of sustained growth where we have continued to move from strength to strength. Highlights of the last year can be seen in our Annual Report.

UCL-IRDR Third Academic Summit Report

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UCL-IRDR held its Third Academic Summit on Wednesday 24th June 2015. The theme was "Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience - Strengthening the Links between Academics and Practitioners". Four panels of distinguished experts wwre convened to discuss the following topics: (a) making academic research more useful to practitioners; (b) improving communication between academics and practitioners; (c) training, teaching and exercising challenges, and (d) bridging the gaps with integrated research. Six main conclusions were reached during the discussion. (1) The work of practitioners, together with applied academic work on their behalf, is the crucible of ideas for academic research and the teaching that it informs. (2) Open minded, exploratory relationships between academics and practitioners can help facilitate needs assessments and projects that are mutually beneficial. (3) Practitioners tend to learn incrementally through an "apprenticeship" based on accumulated experience. This can be augmented by academic knowledge, which can help dispel misconceptions and introduce broad issues. (4) There is no simple barrier to overcome between academics and practitioners, as there are many kinds of the latter and many agendas. Relationships needs to be two-way. (5) Practitioners want academics to provide interdisciplinary research and training. Academics need to resist the pressures against this sort of work and ensure that promises of interdisciplinary contributions can be fulfilled. (6) Academics need to seek, and practitioners need to supply, feedback about what is beneficial, so that the right teaching, research and service will be conducted.

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change

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The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change was released on 23 June at the Wellcome Trust in London. IRDR's Ilan Kelman was one of dozens of co-authors on the report published in the journal The Lancet setting the stage for climate change and health research, policy, and action. Issues include:

Newly published IRDR Annual Report 2015

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IRDR Report 2015 Cover

In this report, we highlight the achievements and progress of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction in the academic year 2014-2015 as we continue our vision for the IRDR to lead and coordinate UCL research, knowledge exchange with industry and humanitarian agencies, and advanced teaching in risk and disaster reduction.

The threat from space weather

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Space weather is a global threat to the technologically driven financial sector, on the 27th May a symposium was held at the Royal Society to examine the risk posed and the resilience of the financial sector.

Reducing risks to public health from saline water in coastal Bangladesh

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Dr. Mohammad Shamsudduha (Shams), an IRDR Research Fellow is collaborating on a research project ‘Health impacts of a climate change adaptation strategy to address drinking-water salinity in coastal Bangladesh’ which has just been funded (£360k) by the Wellcome Trust. The project is led by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR’B) and a number of institutions including UCL, Dhaka University, Stanford University and Emory University are jointly conducting this research in the coastal region of Bangladesh.

A Report on Arctic Fieldwork, Svalbard, March 2015

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In March 2015 a team from the IRDR consisting of Prof. Peter Sammonds, Dr. Ben Lishman, Sally Scourfield and Andrew Goldsmith travelled to Svalbard in order to undertake Arctic fieldwork. With much logistical support from the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), the team travelled by snow scooter to the mining town of Svea. From here it was possible to work on sea ice in the Van Mijenfjorden fjord.

New UCL research reveals key controls on groundwater arsenic pollution in Bangladesh

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Groundwater fed irrigation in Bangladesh

Groundwater-fed irrigation associated with lower arsenic in Bangladesh

IRDR Special Report on Arctic Risks

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Giant icebergs

In September 2014, the IRDR hosted a meeting on Arctic Risk Scenarios. We see the Arctic as an area of increasing risk, due to rapid changes in its geography and economy. Technological risks and disasters – think for example of Deepwater Horizonor Costa Concordia – are often complex, with multiple interlinked causes. To understand such risks, and their potential consequences, requires a breadth of expertise: technological, but also commercial, legal, sociological and governmental. Our meeting was an opportunity to bring these fields together to consider two (hypothetical) case studies: a cruise ship sinking off Svalbard, and a wellhead blowout in the Kara Sea.

Now Recruiting: Research Associate in Risk and Disaster Reduction

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UCL Department / Division: UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction
Grade: 7
Hours: Full Time

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