Professor Dave Petley

BSc, PhD

Department of Geography

Vice-President for Innovation

Professor David Petley
+44 114 222 9821

Full contact details

Professor Dave Petley
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

Dave Petley took up the role of Vice-President for Innovation in January 2020 having previously been Vice-President for Research and Innovation.

Before coming to Sheffield, he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of East Anglia.

Dave is a geographer and earth scientist with a strong interest in the development and support of research and innovation at national, regional and institutional levels.

Dave provides strategic leadership to the University's innovation, knowledge exchange, Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and regional engagement agendas.

Dave has two children, Holly and Adam, and is a keen runner. He regrets that he is a lifelong supporter of Coventry City.


Dave initially graduated with a BSc in Geography from Kings College London in 1990 before moving to UCL to study for a PhD in earth sciences.

His first two lectureships were at the University of Sunderland and then the University of Portsmouth. In 2000 he moved to the Department of Geography at the University of Durham, and then in 2014 to the University of East Anglia.

At Durham, Dave established and was Director of the Institute for Hazard, Risk and Resilience, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017. He was also the first Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in Social Sciences and Health.

In 2012 he was appointed as the first Dean of Research at Durham where he oversaw both the REF 2014 submission and the development of a new research strategy. Dave also held the position of Dean of Global Engagement.

Research interests

Dave's research focuses on landslides. He works in particular on the understanding of landslide mechanics through both state of the art monitoring of their movement using field instrumentation and the development of novel lab testing approaches.

He has also worked extensively to document and analyse patterns of landslide costs, in particular in respect to loss of life. Dave's research areas are focused mainly in high mountain areas, most notably Taiwan, New Zealand, China, Chile and Nepal.

In recent years Dave has been particularly interested in landslides triggered by major earthquakes. Dave sits on the Slope Safety Technical Review Board of the Hong Kong Government and runs a popular blog that is hosted by the American Geophysical Union.

Professional activities

Dave has held a number of external roles, and sat on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society for six years.

He has worked extensively with governments, the military, mining companies, the oil industry and the insurance sector.