Institute for Sustainability

Staff Profile

Professor Richard Dawson

Associate Director


Richard Dawson is Professor of Earth Systems Engineering in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University.

Richard has a background as a classically trained civil engineer but recognised that codes and historical methods that have enabled so much in the past are not always suitable in this rapidly changing world because they often fail to consider the wider interactions between engineering systems and altering environmental and socio-economic conditions. As a result, much of Richard's research has focused around the application of engineering principles to broad scale modelling and analysis - recognition that engineering systems have a much wider influence than their physical form and need to be considered within their broader environmental and social context.

Richard holds an EPSRC Research Fellowship, is Director of the Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research (CESER) at Newcastle University and coordinates the Cities Programme for the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

In addition to these roles, Richard was appointed as Associate Director for NIReS in January 2014.

In this new role, Richard works closely alongside the Institute's Director, Professor Phil Taylor, and our other Associate Directors to help formulate the Institute's strategy and provide strategic direction.

As an Associate Director, Richard also takes an active role in NIReS funding decisions and, as an ambassador for sustainability research at Newcastle, works to identify and develop collaborative relationships with our key external partners.


Research Interests

My main research interests are:
· Engineering urban areas for sustainability
· Climate impacts analysis
· Adaptation (particularly of civil infrastructure) to a changing climate
· Flood risk assessment
· Modelling of coupled human/natural/engineering systems
· Infrastructure management

The aim of my EPSRC Fellowship is to develop and demonstrate a city-scale understanding of the inter-relationships between global change, resource consumption, land use and infrastructure systems and subsequently use this understanding to design and adapt cities so that they require fewer resources, are more resilient to climate change and ultimately more sustainable.

Other Expertise

In pursuit of supporting the specific application areas above, I have developed and gained experience in the application of more generic methods:
· Systems analysis
· Risk, uncertainty and decision-making analysis
· Social simulation: eg. urban landuse change and agent-based modelling
· Numerical modelling of physical phenomena (eg. hydrodynamic models)
· Decision-support tools

Esteem Indicators

· Member of the EPSRC Peer Review College
· Submitted to UoA27 in RAE 2008
· Visiting researcher: Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan.
· Institution of Civil Engineers Robert Stephenson Award for contribution to the “Northeast Climate Change Adaptation Study” (2009)
· Institution of Civil Engineers Robert Alfred Carr Prize for “A methodology for national-scale flood risk assessment” (2004)
· International Association of Hydraulic Research Young Scientists Paper Prize for “Risk based approach to beach nourishment” (1999)
· Editorial board for Springer Future City book series.
· Editorial board for Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Civil Engineering
· Invited speaker at the UN IPCC Expert meeting on 'Human settlements and Infrastructure', March 2011
· Invited speaker at the World City Water Forum
· Speaker at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
· Cited 5 times in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.
· Theme leader for GCP conference on 'Connecting Development Decisions at Urban and Regional levels to Global Issues', Mexico 2006.
· Invited reviewer for numerous academic journals (including: Risk Analysis; Water and the Environment; Global Environmental Change etc.), Research Council proposals and the United States North East Climate Impacts Assessment.
· Co-organiser with British Council of water and health climate impacts and media communication workshop (2007).
· Invited speaker at many national and international institutes including: The Met Office, The Environment Agency, Durban Municipal Authority (South Africa), Dutch National Climate Change Programme (Amsterdam), National Institute for Environmental Studies (Japan), Asian Institute for Technology (Thailand), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria) etc.


EPSRC(EP/H003630/1): Career Acceleration Fellowship - Resource implications of adaptation of infrastructure to global change. P-I: £818k.
EPSRC(EP/I035781/1): RESNET: Resilient Electricity Networks for Great Britain. Co-I: £1.4m (£415k at Newcastle).
EPSRC (EP/I005943/1): Resilient Futures: Resilient infrastructure from an engineering and social perspective. Co-I: £1,4m (£230k at Newcastle).
EPSRC(EP/G061254/1): ARCADIA: Adaptation and Resilience in Cities: Analysis and Decision making using Integrated Assessment. Co-I: £1.1m (£670k at Newcastle).
EPSRC (EP/G013403/1): Earth Systems Engineering: Sustainable systems engineering for adapting to global change. Co-I: £1,35m.
NERC: Public policy secondment to the Greater London Authority, PI: £2,000.
DEFRA (FD2601): Non-structural flood risk management. P-I: £115k.
Environment Agency (SC060063): Reliability in Flood Incident Management. Co-I: £42k at Newcastle.

In addition to the above research projects I have received funding for consultancy work.

Industrial Relevance

I have worked with a number of government organisations, engineering consultancies and utilities, including: The Greater London Authority; Arup; Halcrow; HR Wallingford; Royal Haskoning; SustaiNE; the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water.

My current research projects engages with stakeholders: including the Greater London Authority, Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Infrastructure UK, Tees Valley Unlimited, Newcastle City Council, DEFRA, DECC, Transport for London Thames Water and the Environment Agency.


Postgraduate Teaching

Flood Risk Management MSc
Hydrology and Climate Change MSc