A rising research star from the University of Exeter has secured a coveted national award, for his innovative work on more accurately simulating natural hazards, such as windstorms and flooding.
Dr Ben Youngman, a Willis Research Network fellow in mathematics at Exeter, has been awarded the 2016 Lloyd’s Science of Risk prize, at a special awards ceremony held in the City of London on Tuesday, 29 November.
The prestigious prize was bestowed on Dr Youngman for his research paper co-authored with Professor David Stephenson entitled A geostatistical extreme-value framework for fast simulation of natural hazards events, which was published earlier this year in the highly-respected scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A.
The research uses state-of-the-art statistical modelling techniques to simulate the severity of potential naturally-occurring hazard events, such as the windstorm that led to the destruction of the Dawlish rail network in 2014.
The researchers believe that this new approach could act as a benchmark for existing hazard simulation models, and help communities, businesses and government to better manage the impact of such events.
Speaking after receiving the award, Dr Youngman said: “Such recognition for this work is a real honour. It’s been fascinating working with the Willis Research Network on this project over the last couple of years. This prize, however, is a huge bonus. Essentially, the research provides alternative new methods for fast simulation of possible hazard events, which allows communities and businesses to better plan how to cope and survive when these potentially financially damaging, and life-threatening, events occur.”
Professor Stephenson, Head of Statistical Science and Director of Exeter Climate Systems, said: “Overcoming so many other nominees to win this award is a magnificent achievement that demonstrates the benefit of our longstanding and successful collaboration with the Willis Research Network. As well as confirming Ben’s innovative research skills, it is also a testament to the world-class storm risk research we are carrying out in the department here at the University of Exeter.”
Trevor Maynard, Head of Exposure Management for Lloyd’s said: “The Science of Risk prize is about connecting the specialist insurance market with the academic community.
“Dr Youngman’s submission perfectly encapsulated what we are seeking to achieve as the need to understand and evaluate risk is vital for insurers was met with his use of analysis and research as well as modelling.
“The judges believed his work could be used for benchmarking and validation, whilst increasing the understanding of risk.”