Willis Research Network Adds Princeton, NCAR and University of Colorado to Expand Global Reach to North America
London, UK, June 23, 2008 –
The Willis Research Network (WRN), part of Willis Group Holdings Limited (NYSE:WSH), the global insurance broker, has strengthened its position as the world’s largest collaboration between academia and the re-insurance industry by announcing the addition of three prestigious North American members: Princeton University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado. Joining with existing WRN members, including Cambridge, Imperial College London, Reading and Durham, the newest members reinforce WRN’s focus on groundbreaking, industry-relevant research into catastrophe risk.
The new member organisations, which recently met for a two-day workshop in Boulder, Colorado, bring leading scientists and their world-class expertise to the WRN research programme: From Princeton, Professor James Smith, whose research includes the hydrology, hydraulics and hydrometeorology of extreme floods in urban areas; NCAR’s Dr Greg Holland, who specialises in hurricanes, cyclones, tropical meteorology and severe local storms; and from the University of Colorado, Dr. Keith Porter whose interests include next-generation, performance-based earthquake engineering and risk mitigation decision-making.
Each senior academic is supported by a dedicated, Willis-funded post-doctoral Research Fellow to focus on refining work to the specific needs of the insurance industry: Dr. James Done has been appointed Willis Research Fellow at NCAR; Dr. Anna Olsen has been appointed Willis Research Fellow at University of Colorado; and Gabriele Villarini will take up his post as Willis Research Fellow at Princeton University on 1 August.
Rowan Douglas, Chairman of the Willis Research Network, said, “We are delighted to have expanded into the United States with such renowned academic figures. We have already been working together for many months, but the selection and appointment of the Willis Research Fellows is major milestone in our combined mission to serve the risk management needs of our clients with the best catastrophe- risk research available.”
Dr. Greg Holland from NCAR added, “We are extremely excited to be part of the WRN, which really is at the cutting edge of this kind of research. It’s going to be a big job but I am confident that this group can have an enormous influence in supporting specialised research of use to the industry and in bringing the academic and industry groups together.”
Professor James Smith from Princeton said, “The Willis Research Network provides exciting opportunities for enhancing our understanding of natural hazards and translating this understanding into useful new tools for characterising risk. We look forward to collaborations with WRN partners on problems concerning heavy rainfall and flooding."
Dr. Keith Porter from the University of Colorado said, “To our knowledge there has never before been collected such a large, global group of leading scholars organised around a long-term program of natural-hazard risk research. We expect that WRN experts will significantly improve understanding of hazard processes (earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods), vulnerability of the people and infrastructure exposed to those hazards, and the economic consequences of physical damage.”
Julie Serakos, Executive Vice President, Willis Re Inc., said “The expansion of the WRN to include research experts from Princeton, NCAR, and the University of Colorado offers an exciting opportunity to deepen our understanding of next-generation earthquake science, the impact of extreme flooding, and the frequency and severity of hurricanes and severe local storms, all of which have impacted our country significantly in recent months. Emerging research will allow Willis to assist its clients in preparing for and managing these extreme events.”
Above: The Willis Research Network Atmospheric Group (l-r) – Dr Jane Strachan (Walker Institute/WRN Fellow), Matthew Foote (WRN Research Director), Kyle Beatty (Willis Re), Ian Cook (Willis Re), Dr Renato Vitolo (University of Exeter/WRN Research Fellow), Dr James Done (NCAR/WRN Research Fellow), Professor Julia Slingo (Walker Institute), Professor James Smith (Princeton University), Dr. Greg Holland (NCAR), Yves Provencher (Willis Re), and Brian Owens (Willis Re).
The Willis Research Network (WRN) is the world's largest partnership between academia and the insurance industry. Willis has so far teamed up with fifteen leading institutions across a full range of disciplines from atmospheric science and climate statistics, to geography, hydrology and seismology, to the impacts on the environment via engineering, exposure analysis and Geographic Information Systems.
Willis Group Holdings Limited is a leading global insurance broker, developing and delivering
professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource
consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the
world. Willis has more than 300 offices in some 100 countries, with a global team of
approximately 16,000 Associates serving clients in some 190 countries. Additional
information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.