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Professor David Demeritt is an elected fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Professor of Geography, best known for his ability to bridge the discipline’s human-physical divide. He has extensive practical experience of senior university management, incubating and leading multidisciplinary environmental research projects, and successfully collaborating with partners in government, non-governmental organisations and industry.

An American expat, he completed degrees in history (BA) and Quaternary Science (MSc) from the University of Maine before moving into Geography and completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia. After completing a postdoctoral position on climate change policy with Environment Canada, he took up a geography lectureship at Bristol University and later joined King's in 1999.

David is a member of the Peer Review Colleges for both the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). He served a previous term on the NERC's Peer Review College (2007-10) and on the ESRC Grants Assessment Panel (2010-15). He also serves on the Steering Group for the UK Government's Natural Hazards Partnership and the Theme Advisory Group for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)/Environment Agency Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research and Development programme.

Within King’s, he has served as Head of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences & Public Policy, and as the Principle Investigator and first Director of the King's Interdisciplinary Social Science (KISS) Doctoral Training Centre.


  • Environmental politics and policy, especially the construction and management of environmental risks
  • Risk communication, regulation and governance, especially of natural hazards like flooding and climate change
  • Science studies and social theory, especially the philosophy of science and understandings of risk and science

Technical expertise in the natural sciences makes David relatively unique amongst human geographers and enables him to bridge the gulf in the discipline between human and physical approaches to the environment. A unifying theme in his research and teaching is his expertise in nature-society, including the articulation of environmental knowledge, especially scientific and technical ones, with power and the policy process.

He is one of the co-directors of the recently awarded Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society, and has previously been Principle Investigator or Co-Investigator on some 30 research grants from the UK Research Councils, European Union, leading charities and UK Government Departments worth more than £3 million.

Recent projects include:



  • 6SSG3058 Environmental Risk, Governance and Society
  • 4SSG1016 Geography in Action


  • 7SSG/5002 Practicing Social Research
  • 7SSG5165 Environmental Science and Policymaking

PhD supervision

David has successfully supervised 20+ PhD students working on topics ranging from environmental regulation to science policy. In particular, work in the following areas would fit well with his current research commitments:

  • Risk regulation and governance
  • Flood risk and its management
  • Wildfire and land use/land use cover change, particularly at the wildland-urban interface

Prospective students interested in working in these areas should contact him directly by sending a CV and the precis of a research proposal.

Further details

See David's research profile