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Dr Carina Fearnley
Department of Science and Technology Studies
22 Gordan Square
Dr Carina Fearnley profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Dept of Science & Technology Studies
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Carina is Director of the UCL Warning Research Centre, and UCL Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies at the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies, and an Honorary Research Associate at the UCL Hazard Centre.

Carina is an interdisciplinary researcher, drawing on relevant expertise in the social sciences on scientific uncertainty, risk, and complexity to focus on how natural hazard early warning systems can be made more effective, specifically alert level systems. She also has interest in the transdisciplinary potential of art and science collaborations around environmental hazards. Carina established the UCL Warning Research Centre, the worlds only dedicated centre to researching and practicing warnings for all hazards and threats in 2020, the World Organisation of Volcano Observatories Volcano Alert Level Working Group, and edited the first publication dedicated to Volcanic Crisis Communication (Observing the Volcano World: Volcanic Crisis Communication). 

Carina studied Geology and Mining at Imperial College London prior to working in London City’s financial sector. She completed her PhD at the UCL Hazard Research Centre before lecturing at Aberystwyth University. Carina is a regular consultant for Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre, and frequently appears on national and international media following significant hazard events.

Research Groups
Research Summary

My research focuses on Science Communication and Warning Research. I have developed a body of research in four distinct fields; (i) developing Warnings as an interdisciplinary field globally and building a community around it; (ii) the field of Volcano Alert Level Systems (VALS) creating a new academic debate around the use and implementation of these systems globally; (iii) Art/Science projects involving significant public engagement around environmental hazards, and (iv) developing new innovative research methods and approaches around wicked, real-world, complex problems where it has been necessary to push the boundaries and pioneer inter / trans disciplinary methodologies such as using mind maps to analyse large sets of multi-sited qualitative data.

I have published over 35 peer reviewed academic publications, and conceived and published the book Observing the Volcano World: Volcanic Crisis Communication, the first book on the topic obtaining 991k downloads to date. As director of the World’s only dedicated warning research centre with 60 members and affiliates globally, I lead/led several significant research related enabling activities including as Co-I for a €6million EU Horizons Project ‘The HuT’, and as PI and Co-I for AHRC projects, and consulting work. I have contributed to key UK and EU government policy inquiries, have 2 policy advisory roles, and am advisor to 5 different global organisations (including Risk and Early Action Partnership (REAP) secretariat, ALLFED, CUAMM, and Fahr Beyond). 

Internationally, I am special project coordinator on the Cities and Volcanoes commission, and I founded and lead the World Organisation of Volcano Observatory Volcano Alert Level Systems Working Group. I was invited to edit Routledge’s Environmental Hazards textbook (forthcoming) and am Editor of two ground-breaking research journals (Journal of Applied Volcanology, and UCL Open Environment). I also provide sustained roles, advice, and training to international governments (Oman), UK government agencies (UKFCO, Cabinet Office), and international NGOs and global partnerships (REAP, CUAMM). Through STS and the WRC I have a growing and sustained stream of six PhD students, funded by a wide range of agencies reflecting the diverse and interdisciplinary field I work within.

Teaching Summary

My teaching experience and reputation is entwined with my career aims to create a consolidated field of warnings via research-led teaching to train future generations, expand educational boundaries around warnings, and generating training and educational resources on warnings for different stakeholders including: CPD courses, invited teaching and training, and new modules on warnings (BSc and MSc).

I came to UCL with a strong pedagogical grounding from Aberystwyth University where I completed my PGCTHE became an HEA Fellow, and received two teaching awards. Throughout my career I have been a champion of inclusive teaching practices by providing a range of feedback using different sensory needs to address different learning styles, and I also acted as an institutional champion for education reform in my role as UG Admissions Tutor at STS.

On an international scale my educational impact has also enabled several firsts for STS. I developed two CPD courses delivered to NGOs, and led collaborative education projects via an Erskine Teaching Fellowship in 2017 at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand that enabled the sharing of teaching methods, particularly on simulation exercises, and curriculum consultation. I have taught across several universities and regularly teach at schools, and conduct diverse public engagement activities to generate educational impact. 

Teaching, whether in a small group, a large lecture theatre, or in the field, has been, and remains, an enjoyable, interesting, and valuable experience for me. To inspire students to engage with cutting-edge research issues remains a key focus in my teaching, along with encouraging interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary understanding and approaches. I strongly believe that students need to understand the context of what they are learning and its relevance. Subsequently, my teaching ethos is to involve the students fully in the subject of natural hazards and disasters through practical-based teaching, adopting a problem-based learning approach. Additionally, I like to engage with new pioneering research and technologies and consequently many of my practical sessions and lectures are research-led. By adopting this approach, students tend to respond with enthusiasm and understand the relevance and importance of what is being taught.


I have taught of a wide range of courses: from Geohazards and Volcanology, to Environmental Management, Global Environmental Issues, Key Skills and Methodologies (at all levels), Revealing Science, Engaging the Public with Science, Science Communication, and Science Policy in the Era of Risk Uncertainty. I also supervise numerous BSc and BA dissertations, MSc dissertations, and Ph.D. students.

01-SEP-2020 Director UCL Warning Research Centre STS UCL, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2015 Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies Department of Science and Technology Studies UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2010 – 31-AUG-2015 Lecturer Geography and Earth Sciences Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom
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