Academic staff are permanent staff who teach our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, supervise PhD students, lead research activities, and collectively shape the direction of UCL IRDR
Dr Bayes Ahmed
Role: Associate Professor in Risk and Disaster Science; Programme Leader – MSc Risk and Disaster Science; Director – UCL Humanitarian Institute
Modules taught: IRDR0004 – Data Analysis and Interpretation (MSc), and IRDR0021 – Social and Geospatial Data Analysis (BSc)
My research interests include disaster risk reduction (DRR), conflict and migration, climate change adaptation, community vulnerability assessment, climate mobility, and geospatial data science. I work at the intersection between conflict and disaster with a vision to improve the living standards of displaced people and the stateless population. I am passionate about working with at-risk people and producing applied policy guidelines to mitigate adverse disaster impacts.
My teaching includes topics linked to multi-hazard risk mapping, statistics in social sciences, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, research methods (quantitative and qualitative), and vulnerability assessment. I lead the UCL-IDMC disaster displacement research hub.
Professor David Alexander
Masters modules taught: IRDR0002 - Fundamentals of Emergency and Crisis Planning and Management, IRDR003 - Advanced Emergency and Crisis Planning and Management
My research interests include natural hazards, cascading disasters, disability and disaster, earthquake emergencies, emergency planning and crisis management. I head the IRDR cascading disasters research group. I am currently working on a new book on emergency management, and another on popular culture and disaster. My books include "Natural Disasters", "Confronting Catastrophe", "Principles of Emergency Planning and Management", "Recovery from Disaster" (with Ian Davis) and "How to Write an Emergency Plan". I teach emergency planning and management. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, and Vice-President of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.
Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson
Role: Lecturer in Climate, Policy and Intersectionality; Undergraduate Admissions Tutor
Module taught: IRDR0039 Humanitarian Policy (Group Project)
My research area is broad and interdisciplinary with a particular focus on the interconnections between climate change, policy and intersectionality, and their overlaps with human (im)mobility and migration, or health and mental wellbeing. My research combines primary and secondary data and includes quantitative and qualitative methods, I am also interested in anthropological narrative approaches that support visual alternative ways to communicate research findings.
In the past, I have conducted field research, lived and worked across countries in South and Central America, Oceania, Africa as well as South and Southeast Asia. I am still affiliated with several UN and international research institutes from this work such as UNU-EHS, University of Sussex, UNEP’s International Resource Panel and UNFCCC. I also lead the mental health work of the Lancet Countdown and I was part of the RCPSYCH Climate Emergency and Mental Health Task and Finish Group. I am an editorial board member of ‘Climate and Development’ and ‘UCL Open: Environment’. My work is well-published and widely covered by media outlets across the world.
At the moment, I am particularly interested in furthering our understanding of psychologically and legally ‘trapped’ populations, the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other humanitarian disasters, and Non-Economic Loss and Damage in the context of the UNFCCC and the climate negotiations.
Dr Estella Carpi
Role: Lecturer in Humanitarian Studies; Library and REF Rep
I am a social anthropologist who loves working in interdisciplinary environments.
I am primarily interested in how societies respond to human-made crisis and crisis management. I have predominantly worked in/on Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. My academic work has examined the impacts of humanitarian aid provision on identity and group belonging, the role of the state in humanitarian governance, and the overlapping of welfare and emergency relief.
In the past, as a postdoctoral researcher, I have worked on South-South humanitarianism (especially faith-inspired forms of assistance) and the urban-humanitarian nexus.
I have been a Safeguarding consultant for Arabic and Portuguese speaking NGOs, and I have provided research consultancies on war-caused displacement and aid programming for UN agencies, NGOs, and the Dutch government.
I have published my work in English, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, French, and Arabic academic journals and media outlets.
Dr Philip Cunliffe
Role: Associate Professor in International Relations
My academic expertise is focused on questions of sovereignty, international order, military intervention and liberal international conflict management. I also have research interests in critical social theory and International Relations theory.
I completed my doctorate in War Studies at King’s College London; my thesis examined developing countries' personnel contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations across 1997 to 2007. In 2008 I was appointed to provide reports on Western Balkan politics for the Economist Intelligence Unit, and I was appointed a fellow of the High Education Academy in 2014.
I have undertaken a variety of roles in the wider academic community. Across 2006–2010 I was one of the founding editors of the Routledge 'Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding' and across 2014–2020 I served as Editor in Chief of the Routledge journal 'International Peacekeeping'. In 2018 I helped establish the ‘Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding’ working group of the British International Studies Association. I have appeared frequently in broadcast and print media and I am one of the co-hosts of the @bungacast podcast and tweets @thephilippics.
Dr Lisa Danquah
Role: Lecturer in Global Health, IRDR Fieldwork Safety Officer and Chair of the IRDR Ethics Committee
I have a specialist interest in the epidemiology and control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) and the role and application of digital technologies for early warning and response and disease surveillance and control, focusing on Low and Middle-Income Countries. Particular areas of interest in this area are contact tracing and monitoring during humanitarian emergencies of EID outbreaks and how to understand and improve outbreak preparedness and response strategies and conduct rigorous research in relation to this. My academic background is in public health, epidemiology and demography. I have extensive experience working in global health through managing and implementing field-based epidemiological, mixed methods and implementation research studies in countries in South and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean from 2007 until present. These studies have included evaluating a digital contact tracing approach for Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone, epidemiological studies on international eye health/disability-based research, and studies on the epidemiology and control of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) related diseases and evaluating disability-inclusive WASH interventions. Additionally, I have managed and coordinated research studies in other settings, including countries in Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East and South-Eastern Europe, on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases/improving global health research capacity and assessing digital approaches for event-based surveillance for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
Professor Joanna Faure Walker
Earthquake geology and seismic hazard are my main research themes. I study faults in the Earth's continental crust to better understand the physical processes controlling earthquake locations, timing and generation. I am also interested in disaster resilience, especially topics such as risk perception, warning and shelter. I am motivated to tackle scientific problems that have potential to improve quality of life. My teaching encompasses earthquakes and other natural hazards, disaster-related vulnerability and risk, and integrating science into decision-making. I have industry experience working for the catastrophe modelling firm RMS and academic consultancy practice for clients such as the World Bank.
Dr Roberto Gentile
IRDR modules taught: [MSc] Catastrophe Risk Modelling; [BSc] Humanitarian Engineering and Data Science
My research aims at advancing catastrophe risk modelling using and developing statistical and probabilistic tools. For example, I emphasise on the advancement of physical vulnerability models, multi-hazard vulnerability, time-dependent seismic fragility, lifecycle loss assessments, combination of hazard insurance and structural retrofit, optimal retrofit design under humanitarian constraints (especially in developing countries).
Given my background as an earthquake structural engineer, I am interested in advancing the seismic assessment and design of building and infrastructure, with particular reference to concrete building and bridges. I am interested in a direct loss-based seismic design methodology, aiming at structures that would achieve, rather than be bounded by, a given earthquake loss under the relevant seismic hazard.
Dr Saman Ghaffarian
Role: Lecturer in Geospatial Science; Connected Curriculum Lead
I am a geospatial data scientist. My main research area is to use geospatial data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing and socio-economic modelling to assess, mitigate and manage disaster risk. I particularly studied disaster and agricultural damage, recovery, resilience, and vulnerability assessments using big/geospatial data, advanced machine learning methods, agent-based modelling, and multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) models. I processed and employed various remote sensing data such as multi-spectral satellite images, UAV/drone, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), Hyperspectral, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and ground-based data sets in my research.
“Can AI reduce the risk?” This question leads me to research the use of advanced AI-based technological tools and methods including deep learning, explainable AI, digital twins, Internet of things (IoT), and AI-integrated simulation to address disaster and agricultural risk management.
Dr Lisa Guppy
Role: Lecturer in Global Humanitarian Studies; Undergraduate Tutor
I have worked across humanitarian, peace and development fields, primarily with United Nations organisations, in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. My roles have spanned local to global level and experience in humanitarian responses from the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka to drought in the Horn of Africa and ongoing complex emergency in Afghanistan. Most recently I have worked in the Asia Pacific Region, focusing on the environmental and climate dimensions of disasters, displacement and insecurity.
With the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, I lecture in humanitarian studies, drawing on more than a decade of delivered training, teaching and other capacity development modalities to humanitarian practitioners, senior government staff, students and others in locations from, amongst others, Kenya, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, India, Thailand, South Africa and globally online.
I have particular interest in protracted and chronic crises and the implementation of nexus solutions in fragile humanitarian settings. I also focus on how more considered water and environmental management can improve resilience and peacebuilding in these places.
Dr Rozana Himaz
Role: Associate Professor in Humanitarian Economics; Research Committee Chair
My research interests look at (i) how catastrophe modelling can incorporate ‘non-conventional’ aspects such as impacts on livelihood and mental health (ii) how welfare impacts of shocks on individuals and households evolve over time and (iii) how program/policy impacts can be evaluated. I focus mainly on developing countries such as Indonesia, Ethiopia, India and Sri Lanka. My work uses large household surveys and statistical methods to support evidence-based understanding of these issues in an interdisciplinary context. At IRDR I’ll be teaching students several ‘tools’ from the toolkit of micro, macro and quantitative economics relevant to disaster risk reduction and humanitarian research. I have consulted for the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation.
Dr Yulia Ioffe
Role: Lecturer in Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; Student Liaison Officer
Module taught: IRDR0022 Key Concepts and Debates in Humanitarianism
I am an international lawyer. I have worked with a range of international organisations and NGOs on humanitarian policy development and practice, including the International Court of Justice, the UNHCR Representation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UNHCR Regional Representation for Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Red Cross Society.
My research interests lie within international human rights law, forced migration, and children’s rights. My primary focus is on the rights of children seeking refugee status and other forms of international protection. I am also interested in non-penalisation and non-criminalisation of refugees and other migrants for illegal entry or stay, interpretation of human rights treaties by international bodies, reparation for human rights violations, and impact of international law on refugee protection. At IRDR, I teach international law modules related to humanitarian action and assistance.
Professor Fatemeh Jalayer
Role: Professor of Geophysical Hazard Risks; Inclusion Lead
My research focuses on probabilistic methods and computational tools for risk modelling and disaster risk reduction. I am interested in numerical modelling of cascading phenomena and multi-risk assessment, involving treatment of uncertainties and consideration of time-dependent factors and drivers. I am increasingly interested in risk modelling considering the societal context and the complex interactions between human, nature, and the built environment.
I firmly believe in the importance of addressing cross-cutting issues in research such as ethics, diversity, equality, inclusion, open science, and FAIR data management. I am dedicated to trans-disciplinary knowledge exchange and the practical implications of my research towards rendering a safer, more resilient, and sustainable living environment.
Professor Ilan Kelman
IRDR Masters modules taught: IRDR0006 - Conflict, Humanitarianism and Disaster Risk Reduction
My main research interests link disaster and health topics through (i) diplomacy, namely disaster diplomacy and health diplomacy; (ii) climate change; and (iii) island and polar locations. Bringing my research into the classroom means coordinating modules on 'Conflict, Humanitarianism, and Disaster Risk Reduction' and 'Climate change and health'. I lecture on migration, sustainability, gender, and disability, connecting practice with theories of vulnerability, resilience, disasters, islandness, Arcticness, and climate change's role. My recent consultancies have been for the international and national agencies as well as the private and non-profit sectors. My work has appeared throughout the media around the world.
Professor Patty Kostkova
Masters modules taught: IRDR0004 Data Analysis and Interpretation and IRDR0009 - Digital Health: Epidemics and Emergencies in the Era of Big Data
I am a Professor in digital health investigating serious games and community engagement using mobile technology in Brazil, Nigeria and Nepal; exploring big data for early warning and rapid response to epidemics, and disseminating the best evidence about infection online via iNRIC. My teaching includes digital health in the age of big data. Consultant and advisor to WHO, ECDC and Foundation Merieux, I have won many prizes, including recently, nomination for the Woman of the Year by the Computing Women in IT Excellence Awards. I established the International Conference on Digital Health series and am editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Digital Health journal.
Dr Megnaa Mehtta
Role: Lecturer (Teaching) in Social Anthropology; AXA and IOC-UNESCO Research Fellow from 2023-2025; Early Career Researcher Liaison
IRDR modules taught: Anthropological Theory; Kinship, Gender and Ethnicity
I am an environmental anthropologist interested in practices and conceptions of the intersecting crises of conservation, climate and overconsumption as these themes intersect with debates in the environmental humanities and political ecology. My research is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, a global conservation hotspot emblematic also of the ongoing climate emergency, located on the borders of India and Bangladesh. My research offers new conceptions of conservation that are not solely concerned with the preservation of biodiversity but instead encompass broader life-projects that interrogate notions of sufficiency, human and nonhuman sovereignty, and account for the importance of kinship and care as well as the disruptive forces that accompany gendered forms of care.
My future research, supported by the AXA Research Fund from 2023-2025, will explore women’s intra-household vulnerabilities with migration, climate-induced displacement, and coastal erosion as the backdrop to these shifts, within neighbourhoods and households in the Bay of Bengal delta.
Dr Aeron O'Connor
Role: Lecturer (teaching) in Social Anthropology and Humanitarianism (IRDR) and Co-Investigator: Ethnographic Research Laboratory (Anthropology); Environment Lead
Module taught: ANTH0003 Introduction to Social Anthropology
I’m a social anthropologist interested in the cross-generational endurance of social groups, particularly cultural elites. Since 2015 I have worked in Tajikistan, examining the family, urban and intellectual histories of communities who, over the past century, have navigated radical political change and persecution, and been forced to re-settle elsewhere across Central Asia and beyond. I focus on: urban-to-urban migration; how ways of life are transferred to new places in times of uncertainty; how cities endure, and are vulnerable to, political upheaval; and the interface of ecological destruction and socio-political change in cities. I have previously written on the ambiguous relationship between cosmopolitanism and orientalism, as well as on literary exchanges between opposite sides of the Cold War. I am currently also Co-Investigator for a UCL Innovation & Enterprise grant to develop a research laboratory at the Department of Anthropology at UCL.
Professor Mark Pelling
Role: Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction; Research Impact Lead; Programme Leader - MRes Risk and Disaster Reduction
My research focuses on social and political aspects of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, mainly in urban contexts and often in Low and Middle Income Countries. Increasingly I am interested in working across global South–North contexts. My work aims at impact and so is designed and implemented in close partnership with research users from community based organisations to humanitarian NGOs and government or intergovernmental organisations. I have been a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th and 6th Assessment Report and its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. International service also includes the Development Team of the International Science Council RISK Knowledge Action Network and acting as UK representative on the UNDRR European Science and Technology Advisory Group.
Dr Gianluca Pescaroli
Role: Associate Professor in Business Continuity and Organisational Resilience; Programme Leader, Risk, Disaster and Resilience MSc
Masters modules taught: IRDR0017 Business Continuity Management and Organisational Resilience
My research investigates how to build and improve the ability to maintain operations during disruptive events, how to minimise their impacts and how to increase the resilience of the public and private sectors. This includes learning to understand complex challenges such as cascading risks, critical infrastructure failures, cross-sectoral interdependencies, and compound dynamics. For example, even during an ordinary day an electricity blackout could occur and could compromise the delivery of vital services. My teaching and research address the promotion of business continuity and organisational resilience. My work is impact-oriented, and I publish in both the academic literature and strategic documents such as the UNISDR Guidelines on National Risk Assessment.
Dr Yasmine Sabri
Role: Lecturer in Humanitarian Logistics; Department Teaching Committee Chair
I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in humanitarian logistics and supply chain management at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London (UCL IRDR), and a visiting fellow of the Risk & Resilience Management of Complex Socio-Technical Systems research group in Politecnico di Milano in Italy. I joined UCL from Aston University in Birmingham, where I was a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) for Supply chain management, the director of undergraduate logistics and supply chain management programmes, and the Teaching Excellence Framework lead for the logistics and supply chain management subject area. I am a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CMILT), and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).
My research investigates responsible supply chain design in high uncertainty environments, I have widely published on humanitarian supply chains, supply chain design, and the resilience of small and medium supplier enterprises (SMEs). I build on several years of professional experience and academic expertise to develop multi-disciplinary industry-academia collaborative research projects that bridge the gap between supply chain theory and practice. For the past eight years, I led and taught modules in supply chain management, research methods, and project management to undergraduate, postgraduate, MBA and PhD students in Sweden, Italy, and the UK. At IRDR, I teach Humanitarian Logistics in the BSc programme, Practice and Appraisal of Research and coordinate the independent research project in the MSc programmes.
I am accepting PhD candidates interested in the broad topic of humanitarian logistics and supply chain (management, design and resilience), ethical procurement and procurement localisation. Please get in touch if interested.
Professor Peter Sammonds
I work at the interface of natural and social sciences. My research and knowledge exchange is on natural hazard risks, disasters and recovery. I have worked on earthquake mechanics, volcanoes and ice physics in the Arctic. I work on research council, British Academy and Royal Society-funded projects on Increasing Resilience to Environmental Hazards in Border Conflict Zones and Resilience Futures for the Rohingya Refugees. I have advised the UK research councils on the increasing resilience to natural hazards programme; been a member of EEFIT Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation teams, contributing to inter-disciplinary reports on disaster, taken up widely by government for policy advice; and been a Commissioner on the UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Health, 2017–18, whose report has been influential. I am currently the Gender and Intersectionality Ambassador for the UKRI network+ GRRIPP project led by the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster.
Dr Mohammad Shamsudduha (“Shams”)
Role: Associate Professor in Humanitarian Science and BSc Programme Lead
Masters modules taught: IRDR0001 - Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Vulnerability
I am a geoscientist by academic background. My research is centred around earth’s water resources, environment, and people. I study and train students on hydro-meteorological hazards, water risks and resilience to global change using geospatial big data, earth observation satellites, remote sensing, geographic information system and machine learning tools. For over a decade, I worked in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa on the promotion of sustainable and equitable access to freshwater, and how water can help nations build resilience to changes in land-use and climate. My current research seeks to bridge the humanitarian-development divide as I argue that protracted humanitarian crises and increasing human displacement, particularly in the Global South, cannot be solved with short-term humanitarian interventions but with sustained development solutions, addressing root causes and social change. I work with academic researchers, practitioners, donors, national and international agencies, non-government organisations, and private sector.
Dr Katerina Stavrianaki
Role: Programme Director, Risk and Disaster Science MSc; Lecturer in Risk Analysis jointly appointed between IRDR and Dept of Statistical Science.
My research interests include seismology, statistical seismology, seismic hazard and rock mechanics. I recently completed my PhD at UCL IRDR. My PhD research included the statistical analysis of earthquakes using the Epidemic Type Aftershock Sequence (ETAS) model and more specifically I studied the clustering in earthquake magnitudes. I also study acoustic emissions generated during laboratory deformation of sandstone samples, which can be used as a proxy for natural processes such as earthquakes. The motivation of my research is to improve current forecasting and seismic hazard approaches. I teach statistics and R programming as a research tool to study natural disasters and statistical seismology.
Dr Ting Sun
Role: Lecturer in Climate and Meteorological Hazard Risks; Departmental Graduate Tutor - Taught
I am a climate scholar for cities with multidisciplinary background in hydrology, meteorology and built environment. My research interests include impacts of weather and climate extremes (e.g. heat waves, extreme rainfall, etc.) in cities and urban climate modelling across multiple scales (from neighbourhood to globe) as well their broad linkages with public health and building energy sectors. I hold a NERC Independent Research Fellowship to lead the project entitled “Building Resilient Cities for Heat Waves”.
I’m enthusiastic about urban climate modelling–in particular in the role of lead developer of a state-of-the-art urban climate model SUEWS (Surface Urban Energy and Water balance Scheme) and its Python wrapper SuPy (SUEWS in Python) jointly with the micromet team led by Prof. Sue Grimmond at University of Reading. Besides, I am a core member of the UMEP (Urban Multi-scale Environment Predictor) development team.
Built upon my multidisciplinary background centred in hydro-climate and multi-scale modelling skills, at UCL IRDR I envision to improve our understanding of and preparedness for climate and meteorological hazards.
Dr Punam Yadav
Role: Associate Professor in Humanitarian Studies, Co-Director, IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster; Exam Board Chair - Undergraduate
Modules taught: IRDR0016 – Gender, Disaster and Conflict and IRDR0012 – Independent Project
Dr Punam Yadav is Lecturer in Humanitarian Studies and Co-director of the IRDR Centre for Gender and Disaster. She is also the Co-Investigator for the UKRI Collective Fund award – GRRIPP Network Plus (2019–2023). Dr Yadav coordinates an MSc module, ‘IRDR0016 Gender, Disaster and Conflict’. She will also be coordinating a module on Humanitarian Research Methods for the new BSc programme. She joined the IRDR in April 2018. Prior to IRDR, Dr Yadav was a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Politics Science. Dr Yadav has also worked with various international and local Humanitarian Organisations.