The website of James Shaw, a PhD student researching numerical methods for the atmosphere at University of Reading

James Shaw


2015–2018University of ReadingPhD Atmosphere Ocean and Climate

I am improving numerical methods for simulating atmospheric flows over mountains, supervised by Hilary Weller (UoR), John Methven (UoR) and Terry Davies (UK Met Office)

  • Designed a new finite volume advection scheme for flows over steep slopes represented by arbitrary meshes
  • Contributing my advection scheme code upstream to the OpenFOAM CFD project
  • Performed numerical analyses to ensure numerical stability of the scheme on highly-distorted meshes
  • Quo Vadis presentation runner-up 2016

The project is funded by NERC with CASE sponsorship from the UK Met Office

2013–2014University of ReadingMSc Atmosphere Ocean and Climate (Distinction)
  • Wrote object-oriented Fortran 2003 code to implement an idealised numerical models of an ocean basin
  • Post-processed HDF5 satellite data in Python to retrieve Arctic sea ice age and extent
  • Dissertation prize for Representation of mountains in atmospheric models (86%), supervised by Hilary Weller

  • Introduction to numerical modelling (76%)
  • Numerical modelling of atmospheres and oceans (84%)
  • Atmospheric physics (77%)
  • Fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans (70%)
  • Global circulation of the atmosphere and oceans (78%)
  • Introduction to weather systems (71%)
  • Professional skills (74%)
  • Field course (65%)
  • Extra-tropical weather systems (75%)
  • Remote sensing (82%)
  • Oceanography (85%)

2002–2005University of SouthamptonBSc Computer Science (1st)
1994–2001Torquay Boys’ Grammar SchoolA Level Mathematics (A), Physics (A), Music (A)


I have worked with a range of software companies to develop systems for commercial and government applications.

2011–2013ShazamJava server developer
  • Practised end-to-end test-driven development, pair programming and continuous deployment
  • Developed REST microservices and core infrastructure components using Amazon DynamoDB, redis, MySQL, Lucene/Solr
  • Designed and conducted technical interviews with prospective team members
2007–2011NetDespatchSoftware developer
  • Refactored workflow system to allow automated testing of individual components
  • Extended MySQL database schemas to support new track-and-trace logistics software
2006–2007AniteSoftware developer
  • Added indexes and tuned PostgreSQL database queries to improve performance and prevent web application failures under concurrent load
  • Deployed new software releases to production servers
  • Regular contact with our customer service desk to prioritise bug fixes and manage customer expectations
2005–2006BuildOnlineJunior software developer
  • Documented production software using flow diagrams which became popular references for other team members
  • Identified and refactored large areas of code duplication to eliminate more bugs and simplify ongoing development
2001–2002ActernaIndustrial trainee
  • Learned Python programming in order to develop a desktop application for auto‑generating boilerplate C++ components




Autumn 2016AssistantFluid dynamics MSc module
Autumn 2015AssistantAtmospheric physics MSc module
September 2015AssistantNCAS climate modelling summer school
  • Helped PhD and post-doctoral researchers analyse numerical schemes and implement them in Python
September 2014Course teacherMathematics for Planet Earth

I have also cosupervised two masters students between 2015 and 2016


September 2017ApplicantInternational conference on scientific computation and differential equations, University of Bath
July 2017SpeakerGungHo network meeting, University of Exeter
June 2017ParticipantDocker containers for reproducible research, Software Sustainability Institute, University of Cambridge
April 2017SpeakerPDEs on the sphere, École normale supérieure, Paris
March 2017AttendeeOpen in practice: Inspirations, strategies and methods for open research, University of Reading
March 2017ParticipantEffective quadratures, University of Cambridge
February 2017Invited speakerNumerical methods for geophysical fluid dynamics, Imperial College London
January 2017ParticipantResearch software management, sharing and sustainability, Software Sustainability Institute/JISC, British Library
December 2016Invited speakerSouth-East local centre meeting, Royal Meteorological Society
October 2016SpeakerNumerical and computational methods for simulation of all-scale geophysical flows, ECMWF
May 2016ParticipantPeer review: the nuts and bolts, Sense about Science
November 2015AttendeeGungHo workshop on next generation weather and climate prediction, UK Met Office
June 2015AttendeeHoskins@70, University of Reading
June 2015ParticipantSCENARIO Doctoral Training Programme conference, University of Surrey
March 2015SpeakerGalerkin methods with applications in weather and climate forecasting, ICMS
April 2013AttendeeAWS Summit, London
March 2013ExhibitorDevoxx London
November 2012ParticipantRewired State: Parliament 2012 hack weekend
June 2012ParticipantJava 8 lambda hack day, London Java Community
October 2011AttendeeOracle JavaOne

Informal talks



July 2016Organised a visit from Simon Clark, a PhD researcher on stratospheric theory, and YouTube vlogger. Simon delivered a departmental seminar and filmed a weather balloon launch outreach video.
July 2016Spent one week visiting NCAR, hosted by Ram Nair, to discuss my research with WRF model developers.
November 2015Arranged a meeting with UK Met Office heads of department and dynamics research staff to discuss progress and future PhD research plans.



I have engaged with parents, and children of all ages, in several scientific outreach activities: