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Personal profile

Research Interests

To evaluate the potential impact of a natural peril (e.g. an earthquake) it is necessary to consider the following three aspects:

  • hazard (e.g. how the ground shakes during an earthquake);
  • vulnerability (e.g. how a building responds to this shaking); and
  • exposure (e.g. how many of these buildings are in the zone of interest).

The combination of these three factors provides an estimate of the risk, which expresses the chance that a certain undesirable event (e.g. building collapse) may occur. It is important to distinguish between the hazard, which cannot be altered, and the risk, which can be reduced (mitigated) by lowering the vulnerability and exposure of the building stock as well as increasing the resilience of the community.

My research aims to improve earthquake risk evaluation for engineering purposes, in particular through the characterisation and, ideally, reduction of uncertainties in seismic hazard assessments. It is important that the hazard be neither over- nor under-estimated. Examples of the latter are dramatically displayed by damage to buildings that were constructed in accordance with the expected ground motion in the region. An over-estimated hazard leads to higher construction costs for seismic resistance, which consumes resources that could be better spent tackling other problems.

My research addresses various UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 9 'Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation'  and SDG 11 'Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable', as well as the challenges highlighted in the UK Strategy for the Global Challenges Research Fund, in particular 'resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change' and 'sustainable cities and communities'. I wrote a crowdsourced brief on these topics in 2015.

I am particularly interested in problems related to hazard and risk assessments for the energy  sector. For example, high-importance power facilities such as nuclear power plants must consider the impact of earthquakes (e.g. recent consultancy concerning Hinkley Point C, also see this journal article on the overall approach and this one for details). Another research focus is induced seismicity from projects in the geothermal and oil and gas sectors.

As an engineering seismologist, one of my main interests is improving ground-motion prediction, i.e. providing better models of the shaking to expect at a site given a particular earthquake at a certain distance. Such models are a basis of seismic hazard assessment. I maintain a compendium of published models, which now number many hundreds. A recent article on capturing epistemic uncertainties within ground-motion models has recently been published in association with my Theme Lecture at the 16th European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in June 2018. A video briefly summarising this work is also available.

Expertise & Capabilities

Academic / Professional qualifications

1998 BSc. Hons Mathematics with Applied Maths/Mathematical Physics, University of London (Imperial College), First Class.

2001 Ph.D. Civil and Environmental Engineering (Engineering Seismology), University of London (Imperial College). Thesis available here. (Supervisor: Prof. N. N. Ambraseys)

2010 Habilitation à diriger des recherches (accreditation to supervise research) Earth Sciences (Seismology), University of Grenoble, France. Report available here.

2018 Postgraduate Diploma Leaning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Teaching Interests

Departmental exchange (Erasmus and international) advisor

CL329/CL332 Engineering Mathematics (Statistics), Year 3, 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 2 (sole lecturer)

CL931/CL986/CL939 Qualitative And Quantitative Research Methods, MSc., 10 credits/5 ECTS, Semester 1 (contributing lecturer)

CL448 Individual Project, Year 4, 30 credits/15 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL516 MEng Dissertation, 20 credits/10 ECTS, Semesters 1 and 2 (project advisor)

CL944/CL980 MSc dissertation, 60 credits/30 ECTS, Summer period (project advisor)

Personal Statement

Welcome to my university webpages.

I am a Chancellor’s Fellow (Lecturer) in the Centre for Intelligent Infrastructure within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. My principal research interests are improving hazard and risk evaluations for natural perils, in particular earthquakes (engineering seismology and earthquake engineering). Through various knowledge exchange activities (including consultancies) I seek to apply my skills in practice, e.g. as an expert within seismic hazard assessments for high-value infrastructure. My teaching and administrative responsibilities include being departmental exchange coordinator.

I completed my PhD in engineering seismology in 2001 at Imperial College London, following a BSc. Hons (first class) in Mathematics also at Imperial College London. Following two years as a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial, I was a senior engineering seismologist at BRGM (French Geological Survey) from 2004 until 2015 during which time I was involved in research, public service and commercial projects in many aspects of risk evaluation for various natural perils. From 2009 to 2014 I was a visiting professor at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, University of Iceland.

Please visit the Expertise tab for a list of my research interests and the Research tab, the Teaching tab and the Publications tab to obtain more details. An summary on the importance of my research for earthquake risk reduction can be read on Science Trends, a recent presentation on my research is available for view here and some introductory slides are available for free download from figshare. A recent open-access article on site response analyses for "non-stantard" sites is available for free download here.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in research or knowledge exchange (e.g. consultancy or Knowledge Exchange Partnerships) collaborations. I am particularly interested to hear from fully-funded students interested in doing a PhD under my supervision and PhD holders looking to apply for post-doctoral fellowships (e.g. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships , Newton International Fellowships or Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowships). Before contacting me about PhDs please consult this page concerning applications ("How can I apply?" tab) and fees ("Fees & funding tab). Information on potential scholarships is available on this page (select "Postgraduate Research" in the "Level of study" drop-down menu).

Industrial Relevance

Seismic hazard assessment is not solely an academic exercise as it provides estimates of earthquake shaking to be used by engineers and decision-makers for design, retrofit and planning purposes. Consequently, I have been involved in a large number of consultancy projects as a seismic hazard expert. These have included projects related to nuclear installations in France, Switzerland, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey and the UK, various projects concerning dams and LNG facilities in north Africa and central and eastern Asia and a project related to induced seismicity in The Netherlands.

Academic / Professional qualifications

External positions

Honorary Recognised Supervisor, University of Liverpool

1 Sep 201731 Aug 2020


  • seismic
  • earthquake
  • natural hazards
  • Risk Assessment
  • seismology
  • ground-motion prediction
  • Nuclear
  • Damage
  • Uncertainty
  • civil engineering
  • Statistics
  • consultancy
  • seismic hazard
  • review panel
  • hazard
  • United Kingdom
  • Europe
  • PSHA
  • GMPE
  • engineering seismology
  • risk
  • induced seismicity
  • insurance
  • reinsurance
  • catastrophe models
  • earthquake engineering
  • GCRF
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • energy
  • vulnerability
  • resilience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where John Douglas is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2015 2022

Research Output 2000 2019

1 Citation (Scopus)

An accessible approach for the site response analysis of quasi-horizontal layered deposits

Volpini, C. & Douglas, J., 15 Mar 2019, In : Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering. 17, 3, p. 1163–1183 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
response analysis
dimensional analysis
1 Citation (Scopus)

A streamlined approach for the seismic hazard assessment of a new nuclear power plant in the UK

Aldama-Bustos, G., Tromans, I. J., Strasser, F., Garrard, G., Green, G., Rivers, L., Douglas, J., Musson, R. M. W., Hunt, S., Lessi-Cheimariou, A., Davi, M. & Robertson, C., 4 Jan 2019, In : Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering. 17, 1, p. 37-54 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
nuclear power plants
hazard assessment
nuclear power plant
seismic hazard


Young Researcher Prize (Prix du Jeune Chercheur)

John Douglas (Recipient), Sep 2011

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Activities 2008 2019

2nd Conference of the UTCB Doctoral School (Event)

John Douglas (Advisor)
25 Oct 2019

Activity: Membership typesMembership of committee

SECED 2019 Conference

John Douglas (Member of programme committee)
9 Sep 201910 Sep 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganiser of major conference