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Professor David Chester presents first inaugural lecture of 2016

David Chester Thursday 11 February 2016

The first inaugural lecture of 2016 was led by Professor David Chester, Head of Geography and Professor of Environmental Sciences, who provided an insight into his four decades of disaster research.

Entitled 'What happened then matters now', the lecture reconstructed the impacts of historic volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, which have been an area of interest for Professor Chester for more than 20 years.

The impacts of eighteenth century earthquakes in Portugal; the 1906 and 1944 eruptions of Vesuvius in Italy, and a number of historic eruptions of Etna in Sicily were drawn upon as examples of how historical reconstructions of historical events are important.

Professor Chester said: “Through this lecture I want to show how these types of eruptions and earthquakes can be studied both by a combination of field work and data sources, which provide vital new insights into what is traditionally known as social seismology, and seem to be quite an important presence in civil affairs today.”

He explained how many historic disasters were not fully recorded within the academic literature at the time, and so it has proved difficult to know their impacts. However, the ways in which societies and authorities respond are important considerations in future emergency planning. 

In response to the lecture, Professor Atulya Nagar, Dean of Science, described how the University welcomes Professor Chester’s continued support, which will bring “great benefit and advantage” to students and colleagues alike.

He said: “Under Professor Chester’s leadership, the department aims to; provide an elective and welcoming environment for undergraduates and postgraduates, respond to external research communications and opportunities, increase the research capacity and quality of research outputs in the department, and address increasingly complex societal and environmental research questions.”

Watch the full lecture on our YouTube channel.

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