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

EPSRC project delivering automated, efficient, accurate flood forecast modelling, led by Georges Kesserwani

  • Invited a new collaborator, Per Pettersson, to co-develop a stochastic Galerkin model for efficient probabilistic flood mapping
  • Integrating robust shock-capturing solvers into the University of Bristol lisflood-fp flood model
  • Validated a multiwavelet-based adaptive discontinuous Galerkin shallow water model: the adaptivity method simultaneously achieves a ~50× speed-up without losing accuracy
2015–2018University of ReadingPhD Atmosphere Ocean and Climate

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

The project was funded by NERC with CASE sponsorship from the Met Office.

2013–2014University of ReadingMSc Atmosphere Ocean and Climate (Distinction)
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
2006–2007AniteSoftware developer
  • Added indexes and tuned PostgreSQL database queries to improve performance and prevent web application failures under concurrent load
  • 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
2002–2005University of SouthamptonBSc Computer Science (1st)
2001–2002ActernaIndustrial trainee with the Year in Industry scheme
1994–2001Torquay Boys’ Grammar SchoolA Level Mathematics (A), Physics (A), Music (A)


Associate Editor for Monthly Weather Review. Reviewer for Journal of Hydrology and Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics. My reviewer profile is available on Publons.


Leadership roles

2020Co-organiserFlood modelling and forecasting challenges in industry workshop
2019FounderSheffield ReproducibiliTea journal club
2017Co-organiserNERC Frontiers in Natural Environment Research Conference


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


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


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

Informal talks



July 2016Hosted 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 2016One week visit to NCAR, hosted by Ram Nair, to discuss my research with WRF model developers.
November 2015Arranged a meeting with Met Office heads of department to discuss PhD progress and future research plans.