Lecture Tonight! Syria/Türkiye Earthquakes: Science, Responses, and Aftermath

The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have had catastrophic impacts across a large area, resulting in more than 50,000 recorded deaths and counting, leaving millions of people on both sides of the border homeless or dislocated, and heavily damaging the key infrastructure in the region.

This lecture takes a holistic approach to help us understand what happened; starting deep inside the ground by addressing what earthquakes are, and taking us all the way to the lived experience of the communities affected.

The speaker line-up is comprised both of natural and social scientists. The Chair is Ilke Boran, a third year undergraduate student reading Biology at Somerville College.

A poster advertising the lecture, with titles and speakers' names

The Speakers

| Richard Walker
| Professor of Tectonics
| What are earthquakes, and how can the Syria/Türkiye earthquakes be contextualized?

Richard Walker is a Professor of Tectonics in the Department of Earth Sciences. He leads the Active Tectonics and Earthquakes Research group, and is the Oxford lead of COMET, a UK-wide consortium of researchers using earth observation satellite measurements to study earthquake and volcanic hazards. His research combines remote sensing, seismology, fieldwork, and laboratory analysis of samples to study active tectonics, faulting, and earthquakes within the continents. He currently has collaborative field programs including the Tien Shan of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the Caspian Sea region (Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan), and the Pamirs of Tajikistan. He has also worked in many other tectonically active parts of the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

| Martin Williams
| Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Education
| Professor of Civil Engineering
| How do engineers design buildings, especially with reinforced concrete, to withstand large earthquakes?

Martin Williams is Oxford’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Education. He studied civil engineering at Bristol University in the 1980s and spent several years working in industry before joining the University of Oxford in 1989. For most of the last 30 years he has been an academic in the Engineering Science Department and a Tutorial Fellow at New College, where he is now a Professorial Fellow. Over the years he has performed numerous governance roles, including Senior Tutor of New College, Deputy Head of Engineering Science, an elected member of Council, and Senior Proctor. Prior to taking up his current post, he was Associate Head (Education) of the Division of Mathematical Physical and Life Sciences. He took up the office of Pro-Vice-Chancellor in January 2018.

| Karabekir Akkoyunlu
| Lecturer in the Politics of the Middle East
| How was Türkiye affected by the earthquakes and how did the disaster response unfold?

Karabekir Akkoyunlu is Lecturer in the Politics of the Middle East at the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS. He previously lectured in Brazil at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and between 2014–2017 was a post-doctoral research and teaching fellow on Modern Turkey at the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz, Austria. He is author of the forthcoming volume, Guardianship and Democracy in Iran and Turkey: Tutelary Consolidation, Popular Contestation (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).

| Amr Shayah
| Syrian Refugee and Human Rights defender
| How was Syria affected by the earthqakes and how does humanitarian aid reach those affected in Syria?

Amr Shayah studied mechanical engineering with a focus on aviation, and worked for the Aleppo International Airport before 2011. In 2011, like many young Syrians, he joined the demonstrations, and in 2013 was elected into the first local council for Aleppo city in the non-regime controlled areas. He then worked in the humanitarian and development sector in his roles at the GIZ (the German Agency for International Cooperation), Adam Smith International, the Catholic Relief Services, and the Syria Campaign. Following the earthquakes, he was also part of a consortium that hosted the ‘Syria House’ at Trafalgar Square which was visited by HM The King. He recently moved from Turkey to London and is now volunteering with the Action for Sama and the Lewisham Refugee & Migrant Network.

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