Case studies – Exceptional Contribution Award


How human behaviour influences natural disasters

Thomas knew of the Exceptional Contribution Award having previously received funding from the Trust towards his MSc in Geophysics from University College London in 2011.

Thomas, whose relative connection, Jonathan, previously worked for DB cargo, is now undertaking his PhD research in Complex Geographic Systems Analysis at the University of Bristol, with Kyoto and Vrije University Amsterdam supporting in an advisory capacity.

Thomas’s research is an inter-disciplinary project working closely across the departments of Geography and Engineering. He started his PhD in 2017 and will take 4 years to complete.
The purpose of Thomas’s research is to develop a new scientific model with a view to providing a freely available tool for improved understanding and identification of the ways in which human behaviour determines the outcome of natural disasters, and vice-versa, in a simple yet accurate format.

Thomas’s research is in response to the large-scale flooding that occurred in the north of England in December 2015 and the lack of national capability in deploying effective flood incident management during such events. Flooding is viewed as the hazard from which the UK is most ‘at risk’.

As well as receiving funding from the Trust, Thomas also received a one-off stipend with the European Space Agency.

It is only through the support of the Trust that he can undertake this significant piece of research.
He said: “There is very little to no funding available for science and academia at large, due to financial cuts to these sectors. The Trust’s funding takes on an essential role in promoting my own and other’s exceptional developments at the very forefront of scientific research.

“Without the Trust’s generous support there is no way my research could happen. I hope that there will be a point at which they will see the product of their essential support and understand the huge benefits it will have for people across the world.”