The website of James Shaw, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Sheffield developing mathematical methods for flood simulators

James Shaw

Education and employment

2018–University of SheffieldPostdoctoral research associate

The project is funded by EPSRC and led by Georges Kesserwani

  • Validated a multiwavelet-based adaptive discontinuous Galerkin shallow water model: the adaptivity method simultaneously achieves a ~50× speed-up without losing accuracy
  • Invited new collaborator, Per Pettersson, to co-develop stochastic Galerkin shallow water models for probabilistic flood mapping
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
  • The advection scheme code is available as an open source OpenFOAM CFD extension
  • Performed numerical analyses to ensure numerical stability of the scheme on highly-distorted meshes
  • Quo Vadis presentation runner-up 2016

The project was 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 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
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
2002–2005University of SouthamptonBSc Computer Science (1st)
2001–2002ActernaIndustrial trainee with the Year in Industry scheme
  • Learned Python programming in order to develop a desktop application for auto‑generating boilerplate C++ components
1994–2001Torquay Boys’ Grammar SchoolA Level Mathematics (A), Physics (A), Music (A)


Reviewer for Monthly Weather Review and Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics. My reviewer profile is available on Publons.



Spring 2019Guest lectureComputational methods in water engineering
  • Lectured on shock-capturing finite volume methods for computational hydraulic modelling with MATLAB
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

Invited talks


June 2019Speaker3rd international conference on uncertainty quantification in computational sciences and engineering, Crete
July 2018Speaker13th international hydroinformatics conference, Palermo
September 2017SpeakerInternational conference on scientific computation and differential equations, University of Bath
March 2015SpeakerGalerkin methods with applications in weather and climate forecasting, ICMS


September 2019ParticipantNext generation land-surface and hydrological predictions, Royal Society
September 2018SpeakerWorkshop on moving and adaptive meshes for global atmospheric modelling, University of Reading
January 2018SpeakerRCUK cloud working group workshop, Francis Crick Institute
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
January 2017ParticipantResearch software management, sharing and sustainability, Software Sustainability Institute/JISC, British Library
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
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 the general public, parents, and children of all ages, in several scientific outreach activities: