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ONR Expert Panel on Natural Hazards - Biographies

Alan Gaidan, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology at the University of Leeds

Alan is a senior scientist based in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds and associated with the UK National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS). Cloud and dynamical modelling of the atmosphere are his main research interests.

Recent projects have included Convective and Orographically induced Precipitation, enhancement of rainfall due to thermal and orographic effects over the Pennines, Stratocumulus cloud observations and modelling, lightning generation in cumulo-nimbus clouds and a study of atmospheric waves over the Antarctic peninsula  and South Georgia. His work also includes studies on Marine Cloud Brightening i.e. the effects of the albedo of stratocumulus cloud decks on the radiational balance of the earth system and how it affects the warming or cooling of the planet.

He has also been chief editor of the Royal Meteorological Society journal “Atmospheric Science Letters” and External Examiner at University of East Anglia on Meteorology and Oceanography, external PhD examiner and supervised ~ 9 PhD students.  Other National Capability activities for NCAS have included advising the Americas Cup race (2017) for weather forecasts as well as collaborating with groups in the US, China, India and Europe. He has been a member of ONR’s Meteorological and Flood Hazard Sub-Panel since 2017.

Ivan Haigh, Professor of sea-level rise and coastal oceanography, University of Southampton, UK

Ivan is a physical oceanographer, specialising in sea-level rise, extreme events and coastal flooding impacts, across local, regional and global scales. He investigates variations in sea level, from timescales of seconds to days, through to long-term century-scale rises in sea level. A key part of his research is determining how to effectively translate the results of these studies to local scales in practical terms, in ways that will aid coastal management in coastal cities, deltas and small islands.

He has provided detailed scientific advice to governments, NGOs, and commercial organisations around the world. Since 2020 he has provided strategic input to the Environment Agency’s Thames Estuary 2100 Plan. He is also supporting the Environment Agency, local authorities, and other organisations across southern England in the preparation for major flood incidents. He sits on the on the technical advisory board for I-STORM, the international storm surge barrier network. Since 2022 he has advised the ONR on the impact of sea-level rise for UK nuclear power sites.

Ivan is currently undertaking a Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Knowledge Exchange Fellowship. He is the Principal Investigator on a NERC funded project researching compound flood along the coastlines of the North Atlantic (2019-2022) and another project assess changes in flooding across the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (2019-2022).  

Ivan is also co-Investigator on a Met officefunded project which is developing high-impact storylines and scenarios for risk assessment and planning, and a European Union funded project which is assessing rates of interglacial sea-level change, and responses.

He has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Robert (Bob) Holdsworth, Professor of Structural Geology at Durham University

Bob is Professor of Structural Geology at Durham University and has previously served as Head of the Department of Earth Sciences there and also Director of Research. An expert on the regional geology and geological evolution of the British Isles, he has also carried out research in continental deformation zones all over the world. His studies of structures such as the San Andreas and Great Glen fault zones have demonstrated the importance of fluid-assisted weakening mechanisms in facilitating repeated periods of reactivation over a wide range of timescales.

He established the Durham Rock Mechanics Laboratory, carrying out novel rock deformation experiments to simulate dynamic weakening processes during earthquakes along faults. He led a group that pioneered the development of digital geological data acquisition and, with his spin-out company Geospatial Research Ltd, captured surface rupturing of the 2016 Mt Vettore earthquake (Italy) in near real time.

He has received a number of awards, including the Aberconway (2006) and Coke (2018) medals from the Geological Society of London, and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2022).

Julian J Bommer (Honorary member), Director, Bommer Consulting Ltd, and Senior Research Investigator, Civil & Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London

Dr Bommer has been a member of the Seismic Hazards sub-panel since its inception in 2010. A Chartered Civil Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Julian was formerly Professor of Earthquake Risk Assessment at Imperial College London, where he now holds the position of Senior Research Investigator. He has published extensively on topics related to ground motion, seismic hazard analysis and earthquake risk assessment in relation to both natural and induced seismicity. He is a past Chairman of the Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics (SECED).

Dr Bommer has served as a consultant on seismic hazard studies for nuclear facilities in Brazil, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UAE and the US (California, Idaho, Nevada and Washington), as well as contributing to guidelines on the SSHAC process for conducting such studies developed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He has also worked on seismic studies for major dams, bridges, and pipelines worldwide, and served as a member of the Seismic Advisory Board for the Panama Canal expansion. His portfolio also includes risk assessments related to induced earthquakes in Europe and the Americas, as well as serving as an advisor to the UK Oil and Gas Authority on fracking-induced seismicity.

Ian Main, Professor of Seismology and Rock Physics at the University of Edinburgh

Ian Main is professor of seismology and rock physics at the University of Edinburgh.  His first degree is in Physics at the University of St Andrews, followed by a Masters in geophysics from Durham University, and a PhD in seismology from the University of Edinburgh in 1986.  He was a lecturer in geophysics at the University of Reading from 1985-1989, and then at the University of Edinburgh, being promoted to a personal chair in 2000.  He was visiting researcher at École Normal Supérieure, Paris (1999) and at the University of Bologna (2020), and visiting professor at the Centre for Mathematical Research, Barcelona (2021) and at Stanford University (2022).

In seismology, Ian is interested in developing robust seismic source and recurrence models, including quantifying the relevant uncertainties.  He has worked on a variety of problems in statistical seismology, including seismic hazard analysis, earthquake clustering, time-dependent hazard forecasting, scaling of source properties, and the relationship between seismicity and the underlying tectonic, mechanical, structural, hydraulic and human induced driving processes. In rock physics he is interested in the processes that lead up to catastrophic failure events in systems exhibiting intermittent energy release in response to slow driving.

Ian gave the Bullerwell lecture in Geophysics in 1997, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2009, and Member of Academia Europaea in 2022.  He was awarded the Louis Néel Medal of the European Union of Geosciences in 2014, and gave the American Geophysical Union Ed Lorenz lecture in Non-linear Geophysics in 2019.  Ian moderated the Nature website debate on earthquake prediction in 1999, and served as a member of the International commission on earthquake forecasting for civil protection following the destructive earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009. He has held a number of advisory roles, including with the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) and with the NGO ‘Enhanced Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance’ (ELRHA) on disaster risk reduction.

Paul Sayers, Partner at Sayers and Partners

Paul is a partner at the applied research consultancy Sayers and Partners. He is a recognised expert in flood and coastal risks (at local and regional scales), coastal processes, the performance of coastal defences and the development of adaptation strategies. 

Paul has over 30 years experience in all aspects of flood and coastal management.  This experience has been gained working in the UK (extensively with the Environment Agency, local authorities, private infrastructure providers and NGOs) and internationally, including collaborations in Australia, China, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, and the USA.  In addition to Paul’s applied research consultancy activities, he continues to contribute to leading international academic research groups at the University of East Anglian (the Tyndall Centre) and elsewhere focusing on flood and coastal issues.  

Paul is a Chartered (Civil) Engineer and has a PhD in system-based approaches to flood risk from TU Delft/IHE in the Netherlands.

He was a co-author of the seminal Foresight Future Flooding studies in 2002 and continues to be an advisor to the Joint Defra/Environment Research Programme (on flood and coastal Asset Management) and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Flood Risk Management.

Stevan Harrison, Professor of Climate and Environmental Change, University of Exeter, UK

Stephan is a climate scientist, specialising in climate change impacts. Since 2011 he has advised the ONR on the impact of climate change for UK nuclear power sites. He also sat on the Seismic Risk Committee. 

Stephan is Director and founder of Climate Change Risk Management which since 2003 has provided detailed scientific advice to governments, commercial organisations and NGOs around the world. 

Stephan has a PhD in Quaternary Science (geomorphological responses to past climate change) and his research focuses on climate change impacts at a range of spatial and temporal scales. He has over 30 years’ post-doctoral research experience working in the world’s mountain regions.

He was a Co-I nvestigator on the HELIX Programme (High End Climate Change and Extremes; 2013-2017) funded by the EU to assist decision-makers and the research community to adapt to future climate change. . His role in this was to provide the detailed assessments of water supply variations in the Hindu-Kush-Himalaya region. Stephan was also Co-Investigator on a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)funded project looking at climate change-driven natural hazards in Chile (2015-2018) and is Principal Investigator on a NERC project researching climate change impacts in Peru (2019-2022).  He has published over 150 papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Peter J Stafford, Professor of Engineering Seismology, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, UK

Peter is an engineering seismologist, specialising in the development of non-ergodic ground-motion models for use within site-specific seismic hazard and risk analyses. At the same time, he has significant experience in other aspects of seismic hazard and risk frameworks, including: the development of seismic source models, performing seismicity analysis, developing empirical and physics-based ground-motion models, performing seismic hazard analyses, and running downstream structural and geotechnical engineering analyses within a seismic risk framework. These latter analyses include, the development of fragility curves for structural models, selecting ground-motions for response-history analyses, detailed site-specific site response analyses, the development of liquefaction triggering models, and portfolio risk analysis.

The above skillset has allowed Peter to contribute to a number of site-specific seismic hazard analysis conducted throughout the world within the SSHAC framework. In particular, he has served on ground-motion technical integration teams in SSHAC level 3 projects in Spain and South Africa (twice), has made specialty contractor contributions to the SSHAC level 4 Pegasus Refinement Project (Switzerland), and the SSHAC level 3 Idaho National Laboratories (US) studies. He has also provided expert opinion to support SSHAC level 2+ studies for nuclear sites in the UK.

Prof Stafford has made many contributions to the research literature in several areas as highlighted above and is an author of the recently published a textbook on “Seismic hazard and risk analysis” with Jack Baker and Brendon Bradley. He has served on the editorial boards of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America and Earthquake Spectra, and actively reviews submissions to many international journals. He has also been a formal reviewer for national seismic hazard modelling projects in the UK and New Zealand, as well as for the risk engine of the Global Earthquake Model.

As an academic at Imperial College London, Peter teaches courses related to applied structural dynamics (with an earthquake focus), probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, and structural reliability theory.