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Dr Matthew Brain

Associate Professor

BA (Oxon), MA (Oxon), PhD (Dunelm)

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the Department of Geography320+44 (0) 191 33 43513
Associate Professor / Cluster Convenor , Hazards and Surface Change320+44 (0) 191 33 43513
Associate Professor , Sea Level, Ice and Climate320+44 (0) 191 33 43513


  • 2020 - present: Associate Professor.
  • 2018 - 2020: Assistant Professor.
  • 2014 - 2018: Independent Research Fellow & Proleptic Lecturer.
  • 2010 - 2014: Postdoctoral Research Associate. COastal Rates of Behaviour and Activity (COBRA) funded by Cleveland Potash Ltd. Durham University, UK.
  • 2009 - 2010: Postdoctoral Research Associate. Boulby Geoscience Project funded by ONE NorthEast. Durham University, UK.
  • 2006 - 2009. Environmental Consultant. Golder Associates (UK) Ltd., Maidenhead and Leeds, United Kingdom.
  • 2002 - 2006: NERC-funded PhD: ‘Autocompaction of Mineralogenic Intertidal Sediments’. NERC Studentship Reference: NER/S/A/2002/10353. Department of Geography, Durham University, UK.
  • 1998 - 2001: BA (Hons) & MA Geography. St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford, UK.
Research Interests

My research focuses on the geotechnical properties of soils and rocks and how understanding deformation processes in Earth materials. In particular, I am interested in developing understanding of deformation mechanisms, styles and rates through detailed laboratory testing, informed by field measurements of stress and environmental conditions.

I work with a range of Earth materials obtained from geomorphic settings that vary in lithology, from soft estuarine muds and peats to the strong, regionally metamorphosed rocks of active orogens. My research has applications in low- and high-energy coastal geomorphology, rock-slope stability, landslide risk assessment and Quaternary science.

Research Projects

  • Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA)

Awarded Grants

  • 2019: Cleveland Potash Ltd. COastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA). 2019-2022. PI.
  • 2015: Cleveland Potash Ltd., COastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA). 2012-2014. Co-I.
  • 2015: NERC/CONIYCT (Newton Fund). Seismically-induced landslides in Chile: New tools for hazard assessment and disaster prevention. £156,011. 2015-2018.
  • 2014: Cleveland Potash Ltd., COastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA). 2014 - 2019. Co-I.
  • 2013: British Society for Geomorphology. What makes landslides fail catastrophically during earthquakes? An innovative laboratory simulation of dynamic loading of hillslopes. £3,640. 2013. PI.


Chapter in book

Doctoral Thesis

  • Brain, M.J. (2006). Autocompaction of Mineralogenic Intertidal Sediments. Department of Geography. Durham University. PhD.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Brain, M.J., Eppes, M.C., Leith, K. & Rinehart, A. (2023). Penrose Conference Report - Progressive Failure of Brittle Rocks (PRF2022). GSA Today 33(2): 14-16.
  • Brain, M.J. (2022). History Matters When Gauging Hillslope Susceptibility to Failure. Eos,
  • Brain, M.J., Eppes, M.C., Leith, K. & Rinehart, A. (2021). PRF2022 — Progressive Failure of Brittle Rocks. GSA Today 31(9): 38-40.

Supervision students