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Ian has a BSc in Physics (University of St Andrews) an MSc (advanced course) in Geophysics (University of Durham) and a PhD in Seismology (University of Edinburgh) for a thesis entitled ‘Seismotectonics and seismic hazard’, supervised by Paul Burton of the BGS and Kenneth Creer at the University of Edinburgh.


Ian got his first taste for research from a Carnegie undergraduate summer scholarship in laser physics at the University of St Andrews, supervised by Malcolm Dunn.  In the funding gap between completion of his masters dissertation and start of his PhD he worked part-time as a lecturer on Physics at the then Napier College, Edinburgh and as a freelance folk musician.  On completion of his PhD in 1985 Ian was appointed as a lecturer in Geophysics at the University of Reading, before returning to the University of Edinburgh in a similar role in 1989. He was promoted to Reader in 1996, and to a personal chair in Seismology and Rock Physics in 2000.

Professional service

In addition to the roles outlined on the main page, Ian has also acted as a Member of: the Scottish Regional Advisory Group for Enhanced Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA); the Research Advisory Forum of the Scottish Energy Technology Partnership (ETP); the Royal Society of Edinburgh Sectional committee in Earth Science and Chemistry; as Co-Director, Edinburgh Collaborative of Subsurface Science and Engineering (ECOSSE); Board Member, Edinburgh Regional Partnership in Engineering and Mathematics (ERPem); as Head of the Institute of Earth and Planetary Sciences and ex-offico Member, School of GeoScience Executive and Research Strategy Groups; Convenor, College of Science & Engineering Computing Committee and ex officio Member, University Communications and Information Technology Committee; Member, International Association for Seismology & Physics of the Earth’s Interior (IASPEI) Sub-commissions on Modelling the Earthquake Source and Significant Earthquake Precursors; and is a past Board member, International Seismological Centre (ISC) Governing Council.  He has acted as associate editor for Science Reports, Natural Hazards, Journal of Geophysical Research and as member of the Editorial Board of Geology.  

Major invited lectures since 2014

2023     ‘Approach to catastrophic failure in porous media: sound and vision’, 9th International EarthFlows workshop, Oslo, Norway.

2022     ‘Avalanche dynamics in porous granular media: sound and vision’, Avalanche 2022 – Avalanche dynamics and precursors of catastrophic events, Debrecen, Hungary.

2022     ‘Evolution of deformation and micro-seismicity prior to catastrophic failure in a porous medium’, Society of Exploration Geophysicists passive seismics group (online).

2021  ‘Shear band localization in a brittle porous medium: sound and vision’, Fracmeet 2021 virtual conference to celebrate 100 years of A.A. Griffith’s energy-balance criterion for fracture propagation in brittle materials, Andhra Pradesh, India. The lecture is available on youtube here.

2019  ‘Catastrophic failure of geological materials: How and when?’, Ed Lorenz lecture, American Geophysical Fall meeting, San Fransisco.  The lecture is available on youtube here. 

2019 ‘Operational earthquake forecasting’, UK Government Statistical Service Conference, Edinburgh

2018  ‘Predictability of catastrophic failure events in porous media and in the Earth’, 9th Multiscale Materials Modeling conference, Osaka

2017  ‘Localization of deformation in porous granular media’, International conference on Avalanche Processes in condensed matter physics and beyond, Barcelona, Spain

2014  ‘Crackling noise in digital and real rocks – implications for forecasting of catastrophic failure’, International conference on Avalanches in Funcional Materials and Geophysics, Cambridge

2014  ‘Evolution of damage during deformation in porous granular materials’, Louis Néel lecture, European Union of Geosciences Annual Conference, Vienna

Leisure Interests

I still enjoy playing the guitar and singing in sessions in the old town or events around Scotland (somewhat cathartic after the Covid pandemic), or running (very slowly) around Edinburgh’s green spaces.




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