UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Directions for Venue

9:00 am to 5:00 pm, 21 November 2013

Eventbrite - UK-Japan Symposium on Disasters

Event Information

Open to



Chancellors Hall, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

This symposium is one of the events marking the 150th anniversary year of the arrival at University College London of the "Choshu 5", the first citizens of Japan to travel abroad for a university education. It occurs on the same day as the signing of the formal Memorandum of Understanding between UCL and Tohoku University, regarding research collaboration in a number of areas including that of Disaster Science for which the lead institutes in the two universities are, respectively, the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) of Tohoku University and the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR) of UCL. The IRIDeS was established in the aftermath of the March 11th, 2011 giant earthquake and tsunami that impacted the coasts of NE Japan. Like IRDR, IRIDeS is a multi-disciplinary centre dealing with all aspects of natural hazards, disasters and disaster mitigation. This symposium and related activities on the following two days will therefore cover all aspects of disaster science, but with an emphasis upon earthquake and tsunami hazards and the implications for disaster mitigation science, engineering and management disciplines of the major tsunami disasters of recent years.

Organising Committee:

Dr Rosanna Smith, convener

Dr Simon Day, scientific convener

Amy Chadderton

Programme of events

Directions for Venue

Address: Chancellors Hall, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

For information on getting there:

Walking Directions (PDF) 

Senate House 1st Floor Layout 





Registration and coffee

Welcome and Introduction

Professor Peter Sammonds

Peter Sammonds is the Director of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and is a Professor of Geophysics in the UCL Department of Earth Sciences. He is also the Strategic Advisor for the NERC Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards Programme. He has also made substantial media appearances (over 40 since 2004) on prestigious national and international news, current affairs and science programmes, including BBC News at 10, BBC Newsnight, ITN, US PSB and CNN, promoting public understanding of major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and climate change.


Plenary lectures on building structures resistant to earthquakes and tsunamis

Chair: Professor David Alexander, UCL IRDR
Professor Fumihiko Imamura: 

Hazard of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake tsunami and its induced multiple disasters

Professor Tiziana Rossetto:

Fragility of Buildings to Tsunami: Experimental, Empirical and Analytical Approaches

Professor Fumihiko Imamura

Fumihiko Imamura is a Professor of Tsunami Engineering at the International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University. He joined the IRIDeS in April 2012 as vice director. He is an expert on tsunami modeling, mitigation planning and education/awareness. He has conducted field surveys as leader for earthquakes and tsunamis damage investigation since the 1992 Nicaragua and Flores Island in Indonesia. And he is a secretary, international TIME-project (Tsunami Inundation Modeling Exchange) supported by IOC and IUGG Tsunami commission, members of Science Council of Japan, Science member of the Central Disaster Management Council in Japan, and was the president of Japan Society for Natural Disaster Science, 2008-2011. He was awarded Descartes Prize Awards Final Nomination, European Commission for Research, 2003, The 2007 Continuing International Contribution Award in Japan Society of Civil Engineering (JSCE), 2007 and the 2009 Coastal Engineering Journal Award (JSCE).

Professor Tiziana Rossetto

Tiziana Rossetto joined UCL in 2004. She founded and directs the EPICentre research group (EPICentre, www.epicentreonline.com), which is a multidisciplinary research group looking at topics of earthquake and tsunami risk. She also directs the MSc Earthquake Engineering with Disaster Management which she founded in 2006. From 2009-2011 she helped establish and co-directed the EngD Centre in Urban Sustainability and Resilience. The main focus of her personal research, has been the development of empirical and analytical methodologies for the derivation of vulnerability curves, which can be used to predict the probable damage in structures during an earthquake. Tiziana has undertaken a number of field missions to assess damage to buildings and infrastructure in earthquake zones including the L'Aquila earthquake 2009, Wenchuan, China earthquake of 2008, the Kashmir Earthquake of 2005, the Sumatra Earthquake and Tsunami 2004, and the Bhuj Earthquake, India 2001.


Plenary lectures on International Collaboration in Disaster Risk Reduction

Chair: Professor Akira Mano (Tohoku IRIDeS)
Professor David Alexander:

The Cultural Imprint on Reconstruction after Disaster 

Professor Yuichi Ono:

Expectations for the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai, Japan, 14-18 March 2015

Professor David Alexander

David Alexander is a Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction at the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. He joined the IRDR in October 2012. David Alexander teaches emergency planning and management and has research interests in this field, as well as earthquake disaster analysis. His books include "Natural Disasters", "Confronting Catastrophe" and "Principles of Emergency Planning and Management". He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Co-Editor of Disasters journal, and is a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. He has conducted several studies into media and disasters and is now beginning to conduct research into the role of new media in disaster management.

Professor Yuichi Ono

Yuichi Ono is a Professor of International and Regional Cooperation Office at the International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University. He joined the IRIDeS in November 2012. He is a climatologist, specialized in tornado disasters. He conducted field research on tornado disasters in Japan, USA, and Bangladesh. He proposed a household tornado shelter for Bangladesh and installed it in rural Bangladesh in 2012. He currently conducts research on international disaster risk reduction policy making using his working experiences at the UN system for more than 10 years (World Meteorological Organization, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, and United Nations Economic and Social Committee for Asia and the Pacific). He assists the Government of Japan to prepare for the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai, Japan, 14-18 March 2015.

12:00-13:00 Lunch

Special Session to Celebrate UCL-Tohoku Collaboration

This Special Session to announce the UCL-Tohoku Memorandum of Understanding and celebrate collaboration between these two universities will be chaired by Richard Catlow, Dean of the MAPS faculty.

Speech 1: 

Professor Susumi Satomi, President of Tohoku University - Announcement of the MoU and prospects for Tohoku-UCL collaboration.

Speech 2:

Professor Iijima, Tohoku University Life Sciences - The development of UCL-Tohoku collaboration in Life Sciences.

Speech 3:

Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma, UCL Life Sciences - Future Prospects for UCL-Tohoku collaboration in Life Sciences.

Speech 4:

Professor Motoko Kotani, Tohoku Materials Sciences - Future Prospects and Opportunities for UCL-Tohoku collaboration in Materials Sciences.

Speech 5:

Professor Alexander Shluger, UCL CMMP - The development and achievements of UCL-Tohoku collaboration in Materials Sciences.

Speech 6:

Professor Fumihiko Imamura, Tohoku IRIDeS - Introducing the new International Research Institute for Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University and emerging collaborations with UCL IRDR.

Speech 7:

Professor Peter Sammonds, UCL IRDR - Future prospects for UCL-Tohoku collaboration in Risk and Disaster Reduction and our contribution to international society.

14:00-14:15 Break

Plenary lectures on the science of Giant Earthquakes

Chair: Professor Masato Motosaka (Tohoku, IRIDeS)
Professor Shinji Toda:

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake: what we learned from the gigantic earthquake

Professor James Jackson (University of Cambridge):

New insights on the generation of some tsunami earthquakes

Professor Shinji Toda

Shinji Toda is a Professor of Disaster Science Division at the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University. He joined the IRIDeS in October 2012. He is an earthquake geologist who studies the mechanics of earthquakes and active faulting using both geophysical and geological techniques. He has published several papers in top-ranking scientific journals such as Nature, Science, and Nature Geoscience. He has conducted research on earthquake stress transfer, earthquake triggering and time-dependent seismic hazard. His software "Coulomb" has been helping researchers and university teachers around the world understand and study earthquakes. Currently, he is a member of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction, and on one of the subcommittees at the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion in Japan.

Professor James Jackson

Professor Jackson is the Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University and a tectonic  geologist concentrating much of his research in the field of earthquake seismology  and earthquake-related geomorphology. His research exploits techniques in earthquake source seismology, geomorphology, space geodesy and remote sensing to examine how the continents  are deforming today on all scales: from the details of the fault rupture in single earthquakes, to how that faulting has created the local geomorphology and structure, to how regional fault patterns and motions can accommodate deformation of vast continental areas. His recent work has included investigations into the mechanisms of very large earthquakes, such as the one that generated the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.

15:45-16:00 Break

Panel Discussion: How can we best ensure a fair distribution of risk from local to international levels in disaster risk reduction?

Chair: Professor Peter Sammonds (UCL)


Professor Yuichi Ono (IRIDeS, Tohoku),

Professor Makoto Okumura (IRIDeS, Tohoku),

Dr Cassidy Johnson (UCL).

Dr Cassidy Johnson

Cassidy has a background in urban studies and minimum cost housing, with a focus on low and middle-income countries. Her interests are concerned with how communities and governments can prepare urban areas to be resilient to and respond to disasters, and the implications of forced evictions in cities. She has done research on post-disaster temporary housing - particularly looking at disaster recovery in Turkey and on urban rehabilitation and Roman communities in Istanbul. She has also worked with Natural Resources Canada on the use of solar energy in cities. Cassidy is a founding member of Information and Research for Reconstruction Network (i-Rec) and coordinator of CIB Task Group 63, Disasters and the Built Environment.

Professor Makoto Okumura

Makoto Okumura is a Professor of Affected Area Supportology at the International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University. He joined the IRIDeS in April 2012 as a director assistant. He is an expert on mathematical models for facility and transportation planning, and socio-economic analysis of regions before and after disasters. He has joined field surveys and international collaborative research project in Brazil, Bolivia and Siberia in Russia, since 2001. He has conducted research on evacuation decision making, land-use model including flood risk cognition, seismic proof planning model for road network and medical centers. He served a secretary-general of Tohoku Branch of Japan Society of Civil Engineers 2012-13, and is serving as vice-chairperson of Tohoku Branch of City Planning Institute Japan since 2011.

This event is free, but you need to register beforehand: