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The development of an advanced dynamic risk assessment tool based on agent-based modelling

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

About the Project

The interaction between natural hazards and society should be an ever-evolving process derived from the interaction of physical and social dynamics, that is, under different spatial and temporal conditions, totally different paths of disaster risks can result (e.g., school is only highly vulnerable during the class periods, and its vulnerability level reduces significantly after class/ during the holidays). Hence it is vital that disaster risks are assessed dynamically (i.e., space-and-time-dependent). However, to date, there has been limited research covering the dynamic disaster risk assessment.

This PhD project will focus on further developing a dynamic disaster risk assessment tool called HazardCM, which is an agent-based model that can simulate the dynamic human exposure to natural hazards. In particular, the project is to add
1) an infrastructure network module to cover a wide range of lifeline criticalities such as road, water, energy, bridges, etc;
2) a hazard mitigation module to assess the effectiveness of different mitigation measure options;
3) a resilience module to estimate the key social impact factors such as vulnerability and risks.

The student undertaking this project will have the opportunity to be a University of Sheffield Grantham scholar and to take advantage of the programme of sustainability training offered. The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures focuses on advancing sustainability research and connecting it with the policy debate around how humans can live in a more sustainable way (

Grantham scholars combine outstanding intellect with a strong commitment to public engagement, leadership and action. These ambitious individuals undertake interdisciplinary PhD research projects to help solve the challenges of sustainability. They will be supported by the Centre through a unique training programme, designed to equip them with the skills to become policy advocates and leaders in sustainability matters. Further information about Grantham Centre training programme can be found in

The Candidate
It is recognised that candidates are unlikely to have all the skills required to complete the PhD on project commencement. The primary essential criteria are therefore the ability and willingness to learn new skills and techniques, alongside a strong first degree in a relevant subject area (e.g. Engineering, Computing Science, GIS etc.).

The successful candidate must start by: flexible

Next steps
Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact the lead supervisor Dr Lu Zhuo at

Funding Notes

This project is suitable for a self-funded student or a student with a government scholarship including overseas students.

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