Dr Brian Ashe

Brian is a Chartered Engineer with over 18 years’ experience in research, testing, engineering consultancy and safety regulation. This experience has been gained internationally within the construction, industry and transport sectors; primarily in the area of fire safety. Brian has extensive knowledge of international building regulatory systems and policy development. His primary area of interest is risk-informed decision making.

Brian is graduate of Risk Frontiers, gaining his doctorate for his investigation into the real cost of fire risk in Australia.

Dr Deanne Bird

Deanne Bird is a geographer, with a focus on community engagement and risk communication. She holds a PhD in Environmental Science awarded by Macquarie University and the University of Iceland for her thesis entitled ‘Social dimensions of volcanic hazards, risk and emergency response procedures in southern Iceland’. After 6 years with Risk Frontiers as a Research Fellow, Deanne has returned to the University of Iceland as a Research Analyst where she is exploring human behaviour before, during and after disaster with a focus on remote communities and the tourism sector.

Additionally, Deanne is a Senior Advisor – Community Engagement for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services within the Latrobe Health Innovation Zone team. As a Senior Advisor, Deanne is responsible for local project leadership, coordination, monitoring and reporting relating to health specific actions arising from the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry 2016. Deanne also enjoys adjunct positions with Macquarie University, Sydney and Monash University, Melbourne.

Emeritus Prof. Russell Blong

Russell retired as Director of Risk Frontiers in July 2003 after more than 30 years on the staff at Macquarie University. He still plays an active role in the supervision of graduate students, liaison with industry partners and in dreaming up seemingly impossible projects for others to work on.

Russell holds Masters degrees in Geography (Auckland) and Engineering Science (UNSW) and a PhD in Geomorphology (Sydney). He has researched a wide range of natural hazards and their consequences but his passions include volcanic, earthquake, flood and landslide hazards and their consequences in Australia, the South Pacific and Asia. His current interests include building damage assessments, loss modelling and integrated risk rating. He has published ten books and edited volumes and more than 200 research papers. He is the Past-President of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards (the Natural Hazards Society).

Stuart Browning

Stuart is a Lecturer in Climate Science at Macquarie University with extensive experience studying the weather and climate of coastal and alpine environments.

Stuart’s research focuses on understanding the large-scale climatic drivers of extreme weather events to better quantify risk over seasonal to multi-decadal timescales. Stuart has produced a range of scientific publications, consultant and technical reports on extreme coastal weather, wave climate, East Coasts Lows, and extreme bushfire weather.

Using a range of data and tools, including reanalysis data, model simulations, and paleoclimate records, Stuart’s research spans multiple timescales, from the dynamical evolution of individual weather systems through to the multi-centennial scale evolution of the climate system.

Malcom Castle

Malcom  is the former Chairman of Risk Frontiers Group Pty Ltd and Risk Frontiers Flood (Australia) Pty Ltd. He graduated in physics and is a former seagoing oceanographer with CSIRO. Malcom has extensive experience in commercializing high technology products and services and led the commercial negotiations for the rollout of the NFID and FEZ flood risk products.

Malcom has a particular interest in risk analysis and decision making under uncertainty.

Malcom holds a Masters degree in Physics (Auckland) and a Masters in Business Administration (AGSM, UNSW).

Dr Keping Chen

Keping is an independent R&D scientist exploring location-centric business applications with geospatial big data analytics and global earth observation. Previously he was a Senior Risk Scientist with Risk Frontiers. He developed research interests and expertise in natural hazards and risk assessment, using geospatial approaches and applied mathematics. He led various applied projects in quantitative risk assessment, catastrophe loss modelling and risk computation between March 2000 and February 2015, including quantifying bushfire penetration into urban areas, mapping flood-prone areas, estimating coastal exposure across the country, developing natural hazard risk rating databases at address level (e.g. for bushfire and flood), designing and programming terrorism blast loss models for major capital cities, revising the Insurance Council of Australia’s risk accumulation zones, and examining changes of wind speed distributions in the historical record of Atlantic hurricanes and western North Pacific typhoons.

Keping has a PhD in natural hazards from Macquarie University.

Dr Kevin Cheung

Kevin joined Macquarie University as a Senior Lecturer in the Climate Risk Concentration of Research Excellence (CORE) and Department of Physical Geography in February 2008 after spending three years in the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction of Taiwan as an Associate Research Fellow. Kevin’s educational background was in physics, with a BSc (Hons) from the University of Hong Kong (1989) and a Master of Philology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1992). He then turned to atmospheric sciences and finished a Ph.D. dissertation on tropical cyclone forecasting at the City University of Hong Kong in 1999. With support from the Croucher Foundation, he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Meteorology Department of the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California for two years and was then promoted to Research Assistant Professor. In 2004 he joined his wife in Taiwan and at the same time extended his experience to operational mitigation work.

Kevin’s research interests include all aspects of tropical cyclones such as their formation, motion, intensity, structure, and rainfall, and climate variability of activity. In the near future this research activity will be extended to intra-seasonal, inter-annual and decadal variability in the Asian-Australian monsoon, dynamical systems approaches to weather and climate modeling, climate change impacts, extreme events and risk analysis.

Dr Felipe Dimer de Oliveira

Felipe was educated as a physicist in the field of quantum optics. He worked for eight years with Risk Frontiers and was ultimately responsible for the development of Risk Frontiers’ business and the co-ordination and execution of consulting and research projects. Felipe has a passion for applying science to solve real-world problems.

Felipe has recently moved to Perth, WA to commence his studies in Medicine.

Dr Tony Enright

Tony is a leading practitioner in engineering risk in general, and fire risk in particular. With over 20 years experience as a consulting engineer, Tony has delivered major projects predominantly within the building industry across multiple international jurisdictions. He is a regular advisor to governmental groups on risk in the built environment. He has won academic and project-based awards, including being the inaugural winner of the prestigious NFPA (USA) International Scholarship in Fire Science. Tony has authored peer-reviewed publications and has represented national standards bodies on ISO Technical Committees.

Jason Evans

Jason is an expert in the science of the climate system particularly in regards to land-atmosphere interactions, the water cycle and regional climate change. His research involves general issues of water cycle processes over land, and how we can change them, largely through changes in land use and changes in climate. His research includes: Climate system science; Regional climate modelling; Fire – Land surface – atmosphere interactions; climate extremes; Numerical model (and software) development of relevant tools; and Using satellite based remotely sensed data to assess land cover changes.

Jason holds leadership positions in World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) elements. WCRP is the peak international body for climate research. He is co-Chair of the Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) Hydroclimate Panel. It is responsible for the international coordination of large-scale projects involving climate and water resources at the regional scale. He is also Coordinator of the AustralaAsia domain of the Coordinated Regional climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX). CORDEX is providing international coordination for the provision of regional scale climate projections. He is also lead author for the IPCC, Editor of the Journal of Climate, and was leader of the NSW/ACT Regional Climate Modelling (NARCliM) project.

Assoc. Prof. Ian Goodwin

Ian is Associate Professor in Climate and Coastal Risk. Ian has 30 years consulting and research experience in the fields of climatology, paleoclimatology, climate change science, coastal geoscience, shelf oceanography, polar glaciology environmental geoscience, environmental hazard definition and impact management within Australia and overseas, specifically in the South Pacific Islands and Antarctica.

Ian has coordinated international scientific research programs on global change and on environmental impact assessments. He is an international leader in high-resolution climate change research and on climate change impacts and risk in the coastal zone, hydrology, and marine climate. His work is unique, as he has developed an integrated approach to researching earth system archives using ice cores, corals and sediments; earth system processes using the sedimentary record and the instrumental record; regional climate change and the modelling, prediction and management of hydrological and coastal change.

Ian has produced over 50 scientific publications in international journals and 40 consultant and technical reports. He is a leading contributor to the new NSW Government program – Eastern Seaboard Climate Change Initiative and co-leads the collaborative Sydney Institute of Marine Science and DECCW project ‘Future Coasts’.  Ian is an appointed member of the NSW Climate Change Science Advisory Network to NSW DECCW.  He consults to engineering and environmental industry partners, legal firms, state and local government.

Dr Susanna Jenkins

Susanna is a research fellow in volcanic risk at the University of Bristol, UK. Her research interests lie in volcanic hazard, vulnerability and risk assessment for the purpose of disaster risk reduction. Her recent research has focussed on modelling potential eruptions and their consequences under varying crisis conditions, for which there is close collaboration with emergency management officials. Susanna also has interests in numerical hazard and risk modelling and, as part of her PhD at Risk Frontiers, developed probabilistic hazard models that quantify ash fall hazard and risk across large regions.

Dr Chas Keys

Chas became an associate of Risk Frontiers after a 14-year career with the NSW State Emergency Service (seven of them as Deputy Director General) and a further three years writing about emergency management. Trained as a social scientist, he holds a BA and an MA from the University of Auckland and a PhD from the University of Alberta.

His principal interest in the hazards field is in the management of flooding. His research has encompassed flood mitigation and floodplain management, planning for the management of flooding, the development of flood warning systems, flood response management and the education of members of flood liable communities about the hazard and what people can do to manage it in their own interests. He is also interested in the analysis of human vulnerability to disaster and in storm damage response operations. In recent times he has written books on the development of the State Emergency Service and on the evolution of flood and floodplain management in New South Wales, and he has published widely on emergency management themes in trade and other journals.

Dr Phil Klotzbach

Phil has been a part of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU) since 2002 receiving his PhD from there in 2007. Phil currently works as a Research Scientist leading the Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts co-authored with Dr. William Gray. He developed both the two-week forecasts that are issued during the peak months of the hurricane season (August-October) and the Landfalling Hurricane Probability Webpage (available online at in partnership with the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State College. This webpage provides hurricane landfall probabilities for the entire US coastline from Brownsville (Texas) to Eastport (Maine) as well as the Caribbean. Phil’s other research interests include climate change and nor’easters.

Dr Christina Magill

With over fifteen years of experience in hazard science, Christina’S areas of specialty are numerical simulation of hazard events, probabilistic volcanic hazard modelling, severe storm climatology as well as the physical, economic and health impacts of natural hazard events.

Christina’s work has included the development of three widely used stochastic risk models: HailAUS – hail hazard in Australia; VolcaNZ – tephra fall hazard in the North Island of New Zealand; and KazanRisk – tephra fall hazard in Greater Tokyo.

She has also published widely in the areas of volcanic hazard and risk and works closely with graduate students. Christina completed her undergraduate and Masters studies in Earth Sciences at the University of Waikato and PhD at Macquarie University with a thesis on volcanic risk in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dr Matthew Mason

Matthew is a Lecturer in the Civil Engineering and Built Environment School at the Queensland University of Technology. Previously he worked for nearly five years as a Research Engineer and Catastrophe Risk Modeller at Risk Frontiers contributing to work on the tropical cyclone and severe storm models. His research interests span a broad range of meteorological and hydrometeorological hazards, but most specifically centre on understanding extreme wind events and their interactions with the built environment. Matthew was the 2014-15 Chair of the Australasian Wind Engineering Society.

Daryl McClure

Daryl has ten years of experience in seismic engineering and risk consulting spanning hazard analysis, engineering design and probabilistic loss estimation. He holds degrees in Structural Engineering (BEng), Earthquake Engineering (MSc, DIC) and Finance (MiF).

Daryl has an extensive understanding of the seismic design and vulnerability of structures ranging from commercial buildings to heavy industrial facilities and a comprehensive knowledge of construction practice adopted in the Americas, Asia, Middle East, Australasia, the South Pacific and Europe. His past research activities include recommendations and provisions for EC8, the European seismic design code, and the publication of a number of related technical articles in international engineering journals.

Blair Nicholls

Blair is the Co-Founder & CEO of Blue Zebra and brings over 30 years of global experience in the insurance industry. Previously he was the inaugural CEO for Berkshire Hathaway in Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia, responsible for setting the overarching strategy and starting up their insurance and local reinsurance business. Blair has also held several global and divisional executive level roles within QBE, and continues to be an active industry participant on various boards and working committees, including the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and the Actuaries Institute (Australia).

Blair is driven by a desire to build an insurance business that can meet the changing needs of intermediaries and their customers, and in particular leveraging technology to make all aspects of the insurance offering as easy as possible.

Simon Opper

Simon is an emergency management consultant with over 7 years of experience. He specialises in team leadership and facilitation, strategic disaster risk management, emergency planning and delivery of community focused disaster resilience tools.

Simon has extensive experience in managing organisational capability for emergency management and resilience. He works across a wide range of hazards but he specialises in flood, storm and tsunami.

Simon is a former Senior Planning Officer at NSW State Emergency Service where he led the design, review and implementation of the policy framework for the NSW SES Local, Regional and State emergency plans for flood, storm and tsunami, in partnership with State and Local Governments and other stakeholders. Simon also led the review of the NSW SES State Flood and Storm Emergency Sub Plans.

Simon implemented major reforms to the NSW SES organisational approach to hazard planning, risk management and community planning. These focused on an improved culture of organisational risk management and the investment in technology and systems to better manage data and collaborate with communities.

He also held the position of Senior Manager of the Mitigation, Risk Management and Planning Unit at the former NSW Ministry for Police and Emergency Services (MPES). While at MPES Simon chaired and participated in a variety of state level emergency management committees involving a range NSW government agencies, emergency services and other stakeholders. He led a review of the state wide all-hazard emergency risk management process for NSW agencies involved in emergency management and regional and local emergency management committees.

Colin Packham

Colin is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (London).

Until he retired at the end of 1998, Colin was Product Manager, Property for Swiss Reinsurance Co, Sydney. In this and his previous role as Underwriting Manager of Mercantile & General Reinsurance Co of Australia, he was particularly active in the areas of Natural Perils underwriting, Crop Reinsurance, and Reinsurance Training. He was lecturer in Reinsurance at the University of Technology, Sydney from 1991 to 1994.

He is author of various publications on Natural Perils, Reinsurance and Crop Insurance. In 2000, “Natural Perils in Australia and New Zealand”, was published by Swiss Re, written by Russell Blong, David Sinai of Swiss Re, and Colin. This is a completely revised and expanded work following “Natural Perils in Australia, a Reinsurer’s Perspective”, published by Mercantile & General in 1991, written by John Woodward and Colin.

As an associate of Risk Frontiers, Colin is able to give advice to the team on the way reinsurers approach the pricing of natural perils, insurance industry practice regarding PML assessment, as well as crop hail insurance and reinsurance.

Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr

Roger has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado since 2001 and is a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). At CIRES, Roger served as the Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research from 2001-2007. Roger’s research focuses on the intersection of science and technology and decision making. In 2006 Roger received the Eduard Brückner Prize in Munich, Germany for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research. Before joining the University of Colorado, from 1993-2001 Roger was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Roger is a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. His most recent book is The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell you About Global Warming (September, 2010, Basic Books).

Prof. Andy Pitman

Andy is co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW. He has research interests in climate change, climate modelling and what can trigger abrupt changes in the climate. His main expertise is terrestrial processes including how changes at the Earth’s surface affect regional and global climates.

He has worked recently on climate model evaluation, changes in temperature and rainfall extremes, and the impact of land cover change on global climate. He was a lead author on the IPCC, is a member of the IGBP, is a member of the National Committee for Earth System Science and he convenes the ARC Research Network for Earth System Science.

Dr George Walker

George began his academic life studying civil engineering at what is now the University of Auckland. This was followed by an ME and a PhD at the same university. His PhD, awarded in 1966, was the first by a New Zealand university in Earthquake Engineering. It set the pattern for a life specialising in the effects of disasters. In 1968 he joined what is now James Cook University in Townsville, and after experiencing Cyclone Althea in Townsville in 1971, began his studies in Wind Engineering with a particular focus on the performance of houses in tropical cyclones. Following the devastation of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day 1974 he led the investigation of damage commissioned by the Australian Government on which the reconstruction of Darwin was based. In 1976 he became an Associate Professor and over the next 15 years or so played a major role in the development of wind resistant building standards in Australia. In 1989 he resigned from the University to become Assistant Chief of the CSIRO Division of Building Construction and Engineering, in charge of their North Ryde laboratory, and in 1994 joined what is now Aon Re Australia as Head of Strategic Development.

In the early 1980s George became involved in the estimation of PMLs for the reinsurance industry and, while at CSIRO, played a key role in the development for Suncorp of one of Australia’s first catastrophe loss models. This led to his move to Aon where, until his recent retirement from full-time work, he has played a major role in the development and application of reinsurance related catastrophe insurance loss modelling expertise in Australia and New Zealand. This work has led to international recognition as a leader in the field of disaster insurance.

George was recently inducted into the Queensland Engineering Hall of Fame. Click here for a copy of the citation on the plaque he received, along with a brief biography.

Dr Stephen Yeo

Stephen is an independent flood risk management consultant based in Sydney. Prior to his current employment he worked at Bewsher Consulting, with special responsibility for preparing Floodplain Risk Management Plans across NSW.

Stephen is a graduate of Risk Frontiers, gaining his doctorate for his investigation of flood risk management in Fiji. He has also worked in the South Pacific as a disaster mitigation adviser with the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

Stephen has lectured in natural hazards, climate change and fluvial geomorphology at Macquarie University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Sydney and the University of the South Pacific.

Stephen’s research interests include exploring the causes of historical disasters, the construction of warning systems and community education.