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Member Biographies

Mike Bickle

Mike Bickle is based in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University. His research focuses on tectonics and geochemistry, with his most recent work related to the long-term security of geological carbon sequestration. He is Director of the Cambridge Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage.

John Black

Following a degree in Geology and a Masters degree in Hydrogeology John Black was employed by the British Geological Survey for seventeen years before resigning to start an office of Golder Associates in Nottingham. Nuclear repository work first appeared on his list of projects just over 35 years ago with field work at Dounreay, Altnabreac and many potential research sites across Britain.  He designed integrated test campaigns for the UK programme in the 1980s, for three European national programmes and for two commercial repository developments.  More recently, he has reviewed the hydrogeology of both the Swedish and Finnish national repository projects.  

Over the years, his speciality has become the hydrogeology of low permeability rocks and fractured crystalline rocks in particular.  He has resolved the groundwater flow regimes at Drigg, Dounreay and most recently deep below the West Cumbrian Coast by understanding head variations.  Current research concerns sparse channel networks and their impact on fractured rock safety cases that are based on discrete fracture network models.  He became an independent consultant in 2000 and has about eighty publications available to the public.

Robert Chaplow

Dr Robert (Bob) Chaplow has 48-years of post-graduation experience as an engineering geologist.  Initially he specialised in the investigation, design and construction of major projects, including dams, reservoirs and tunnels.  Since 1986 he has specialised in radioactive waste management.  Bob worked first with a management consultant.  He was Project Manager for the characterisation of a potential near-surface disposal site at Fulbeck, before becoming Project Director for the characterisation of potential geological disposal sites at Sellafield and Dounreay. 

In 1993 he joined Nirex as Manager for Site Characterisation and was responsible for the management of the scientific and geotechnical investigations at Sellafield.  From 2004 to 2009, working with Nirex and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Bob managed the Geosphere Characterisation Project to develop generic approaches for the characterisation of potential sites in the UK for deep geological disposal facilities.  He subsequently provided specialist advice to the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate of NDA until 2012.  Bob has been a member of an international panel reviewing the Finnish waste disposal programme. 

From 2004, he has been a member, and sometimes team leader, of 14 expert missions on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency advising on the siting, characterisation and management of radioactive waste disposal projects in seven countries, including China, Romania and Jordan.  Bob is a Chartered Geologist and Chartered Scientist.  He is also a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Chartered Engineer.  He is an Honorary Visiting Professor at Kingston University.

Chris Hawkesworth (Chair)

Chris Hawkesworth is an isotope and trace element geologist who has worked at the Open University and the Universities of Bristol and St Andrews. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, with a D.Phil from Oxford University, much of his research has been concerned with the generation and evolution of the continental crust. He has been particularly interested in how rates of natural processes can be estimated from the geological record. He has supervised 60 PhD students, and worked on projects with the base metal and hydrocarbon industries, as well as those funded by UK Research Councils and the ERC. 

He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and he has served as Science Secretary for the Geological Society of London. He was Deputy Principal at the University of St Andrews (2009-2014), and he currently holds emeritus positions at the Universities of Bristol and St Andrews.

Karin Högdahl

Karin Högdahl is a hard rock geologist. Her research is focused on the tectonic evolution of the central part of the Svecofennian, or Svecokarelian, orogen - in the general area of the orogen where the nuclear waste repositories are planned to be constructed in both Sweden and Finland. She is a member of the Swedish Council for Nuclear Waste since 2009 and from 2014 the Deputy Chairperson. The Council assesses the RD&D programmes and applications by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB), submit a yearly report on the state of the art in the nuclear waste field and follow the work of international organisations in the nuclear waste field.

Zoe Shipton

Zoe Shipton is a Professor of Geological Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Strathclyde University. She works on the link between faulting and fluid flow in applications such as hydrocarbons, radioactive waste storage, CCS and geothermal energy, as well as the structure of modern and exhumed earthquake faults. She also conducts research into quantifying geological uncertainties and the perception and communication of risk and uncertainty.

She is chair of the Tectonic Studies Group of the Geological Society of London and a member of the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering working group on "Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of the scientific and engineering evidence". She is also part of the Scottish Government’s expert group on unconventional gas and the Institute of Civil Engineering Scotland’s Steering Group for their 2015 “State of the Nation” report.

Shipton has co-supervised a EPSRC CASE PhD student in collaboration with NDA (completed 2014). She is currently co-supervising two PhD students, funded by RWM and the University of Strathclyde, working at the Grimsel Test Site under the auspices of the LASMO project. She was one of the co-investigators on the EPSRC-funded consortium grant: SAFE Barriers - a Systems Approach For Engineered Barriers (EP/I036427/1, 2012-2015).

Richard Smith

Richard Smith received a BSc and MSc from the University of Adelaide, Australia and an MSc and PhD (Physics) from the University of Toronto, Canada. He has worked as a Research Geophysicist at Lamontagne Geophysics in Toronto, Canada, and he held an ARC post-doctoral fellowship at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.  For two years, he was the Principal Geophysicist at Pasminco in Melbourne, Australia, where he participated in mineral exploration programs, using and interpreting data from a large variety of geophysical techniques.  He then moved to CGG-Geoterrex-Dighem, in Ottawa, Canada, where he was research coordinator, working on tools to process and interpret airborne geophysical data, primarily electromagnetic and magnetic data.  This company was acquired by Fugro and Richard was the R&D manager in Fugro’s Ottawa office where he worked on the development and deployment of airborne electromagnetic methods. 

In May 2009, Richard took up an Industrial Research Chair in Exploration Geophysics at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada.  Since 2012, Professor Smith has been a member of the Adaptive Phased Management Geoscience Review Group (APM-GRG), a group that meets regularly to advise the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (Canada) on processes and procedures they are using to find a site for a geological repository for nuclear waste.  His contribution to the review panel primarily involves advice on the role that geophysical methods can take in the process.