skip to primary navigation skip to content

Rory Walshe BSc MSc PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Geographer and social scientist with expertise in disaster research, disaster risk reduction and particularly the role of local knowledge, culture and long-term processes in community vulnerability and resilience. Now researching social volcanology on the ERC project IMAGINE, working with communities and scientists to understand cultures and knowledges in volcanic areas.



  • 2020-present: Postdoctoral Research Associate, ERC IMAGINE (PI: Dr Amy Donovan) Cambridge (UK)
  • 2015-2019: PhD Studentship, NERC London DTP
  • 2014: Post-Graduate Researcher, the Indigenous Peoples Bio-Cultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative – IPCCA (Peru)
  • 2013: Science Section Intern: UNESCO Pacific sub-regional Office (Samoa / Fiji / Vanuatu)
  • 2011: Research Assistant, University of New England (Australia)


  • 2015-2019: PhD in Geography, King’s College London and University College London
  • 2013-2014: MSc Climate Change and International Development, University of East Anglia
  • 2008-2012: BSc Disaster Management (Hons), Coventry University


I am an interdisciplinary geographer by training, with a BSc in Disaster Management, and an MSc in Climate Change and International Development.

I have previously occupied a number of research positions in various roles and locations. The common thread across these projects was an effort to uncover and understand the social, cultural and political influences on vulnerability and resilience, particularly for rural communities facing natural hazards and the impacts of climate change. I am also interested in the role of local and indigenous knowledge and perspectives, and how to account for this in responses and disaster risk reduction or climate change adaptation policy.

Most recently my PhD investigated the role of memory in responses to tropical cyclones in Mauritius by adopting a long-term historical perspective to reveal the complex relationships between people and perceived risks of exposure to tropical cyclones. In so doing my PhD research uncovered certain repetitive patterns in responses to cyclones that are key to understanding vulnerability today and the role of memory in the construction of cyclone knowledge.

I also have a keen interest in island studies and small island developing states, as well as high mountain environments.

My current research at Cambridge is as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC funded project IMAGINE: Geographical Imaginations and the (geo) politics of volcanic risk: cultures, knowledge, actions (PI: Dr Amy Donovan). This multi-disciplinary research project examines the creation, use and negotiation of knowledge regarding volcanic risk (and interconnected hazards) by scientists and stakeholders (including communities) in transboundary contexts in South America.


Journal articles

  • Foley A., Brinklow L., Corbett J. Kelman I, Klöck C., Moncada S., Mycoo M.,  Nunn P., Pugh J., Robinson S., Tandrayen-Ragoobur V., Walshe R. (2023) Understanding “Islandness”. Annals of the American Association of Geographers
  • Walshe R., Rouphail R., Adamson G., Kelman I. (2022) Werewolves and warning signs: Cultural responses to tropical cyclones in Mauritius. Geoforum. 113, 56-65
  • Penney C., Walshe R., Baker H., van Soest H., Dryhurst S., Taylor ARE. (2022) Introducing stories into downward counterfactual analysis: examples from a potential Mediterranean disaster. Frontiers in Earth Science. 448
  • Walshe R. (2022) ‘Who could have expected such a disaster?’ How responses to the 1892 cyclone determined institutional trajectories of vulnerability in Mauritius. Journal of Historical Geography. 75, 55- 64
  • Gallant E., Cole L., Connor C., Donovan A., Molisee D., Morin J., Walshe R. (2021) Modelling eruptive source parameters in distributed volcanic fields. Volcanica. 4 (2), 325-343
  • Walshe, R.A., A Foley (2021) Learning from the archives of island jurisdictions: why and how island history should inform disaster risk reduction and climate action, Small States & Territories, 4 (2), 2021, 205-230
  • Walshe, R.A., Adamson, G., Kelman, I. (2020) Helices of disaster memory: How forgetting and remembering influence tropical cyclone response in Mauritius, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, v50.
  • Walshe, R., Stancioff, C.E. (2018) Small island perspectives on climate change. Island Studies Journal. 13* (1), 13-24 (*also as co-editor of this special section)
  • Shultz, J.M, Kossin, J.P, Shepherd J.M, Ransdell, J.M, Walshe, R.A, Kelman, I. et al. (2019) Risks, health consequences, and response challenges for small-island-based populations: observations from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Disaster medicine and public health preparedness 13 (1), 5-17
  • Walshe, R.A, Chang Seng, D., Bumpus, A., Auffray, J. (2018) Perceptions of adaptation, resilience and climate knowledge in the Pacific: The cases of Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu, International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 10 (2), 303-322
  • Walshe, R.A., Stancioff, C.E. (2018) Small island perspectives on climate change, Island Studies Journal 13* (1), 13-24
  • Walshe, R.A, Argumedo, A. (2016) Ayni, Ayllu, Yanantin and Chanincha: the cultural values enabling adaptation to climate change in communities of the potato park, in the Peruvian Andes, GAIA-Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 25 (3), 166-173
  • Walshe, R.A., Nunn, P.D. (2012) ‘Integration of traditional knowledge and disaster risk reduction: a case study from Baie Martelli, Pentecost Island, Vanuatu (South Pacific Ocean)’. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science. 3 (4) pp185-194.

Book chapters

  • Raška P., Walshe R. (2022) Heritigizing traditional adaptations to natural hazards: A critical perspective. in Landscape as Heritage: International Critical Perspectives, Routledge: 91-101
  • Mavrogenis, S., Theodorou, P., Walshe R. (2017) Climate Change Adaptation: A Critical Approach, in The Routledge Handbook of Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation edited By I Kelman, Mercer, J., Gaillard, JC. Routledge: London, p24-34