John Stevenson

Dr John Stevenson

Senior software developer
BGS Edinburgh

John began his career as an academic geologist before undergoing a digital transformation into a professional software developer.

As a geologist he initially specialised in the field mapping of volcanic deposits from both explosive and effusive eruptions.  This expanded into volcano monitoring, remote sensing and using field data to ground-truth satellite observations and computer model predictions.  The data and processing requirements grew and the best way to handle it was by writing code.

After leaving academia, John switched to become a full-time software developer.  Continuing from his geological experience he specialised in Python and open source tools for working with spatial data (GIS).  He learned software development best practices such as collaboration via version control and test-driven development and modern cloud-style tools such as Docker and Ansible.

At BGS, John combines both geoscience and software experience and has a strong interest in applying software-development best practice to scientific computing (research software engineering) and the automation of data migration and analysis (data engineering).

John Stevenson’s biography

  • 2017 – ongoing: Senior Software Developer, Informatics, British Geological Survey
  • 2015 – 2017: Senior Developer, thinkWhere Open-Source GIS consultancy
  • 2010 – 2015: Royal Society of Edinburgh / Marie Curie Actions Personal Research Fellow (Tephra dispersal by explosive eruptions; volcanic ash cloud mapping), University of Edinburgh
  • 2008 – 2010: Postdoc (Topographic analysis and volcano remote sensing), University of Manchester
  • 2006 – 2007: Postdoc (Volcano monitoring), Universidad de Colima, Mexico
  • 2001 – 2005: PhD “Volcano-ice interaction at Öraefajökull and Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland”, The Open University / Lancaster University
  • 1996 – 2001: MSci Natural Sciences (Geological Sciences), University of Cambridge

Research interests

  • Geological mapping of volcanic deposits – Describing and reconstructing eruption processes from subglacial and subaerial eruptions (with a focus on Iceland). See publications.
  • Volcanic ash cloud modelling – Relating predictions from volcanic ash cloud dispersion models to deposits on the ground. See publications.
  • Python – Easy-to-read programming language with many applications in science, GIS and data analysis.  He is lead author of the ETL Helper package.
  • Research Software Engineering – The application of software development best practices to scientific data processing and analysis – Pyvolcans.
  • Data engineering – Automating the transfer and publication of large quantities of data – BGS Sensor Data.

ORCID: 0000-0002-2245-1334

Google Scholar profile: John A Stevenson

Key papers

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