dr. Brian Dermody
Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26


Interdisciplinary Assistant Professor

Associate Member of the Centre for Complex Systems Studies (CCSS), Utrecht 


Bio My research interests are focused on unravelling the complex drivers of unsustainable water resource use.
Scientific expertise
Holocene climate
time series analysis
modelling human and natural systems
spatial statistics
Socioecological Systems
historical analysis
Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26
Curriculum vitae


2015 – 2017                      Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Utrecht University

Postdoc: Complex drivers of unsustainable water resource use

My Post-doctoral research focused on unravelling the complex processes within the global food production and trade system that lead to unsustainable water use. I developed human-environment models in an historical and contemporary setting to answer these questions. The goal of this research was to illuminate pathways towards a sustainable future for humans, ecosystems and the water they share. 

2009 – 2014                   Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Utrecht University

PhD: Holocene climate change and its impact in the Roman Mediterranean

My thesis focused on developing a mechanistic understanding of climate change during the Holocene and the impact that these changes had on past societies. I used a suite of statistical methods to reconstruct past changes using several climate records. These reconstructions formed the basis for a model of Roman food and water management, designed and built in collaboration with quantitative historians, hydrologists and demographers.  

2008 – 2009                   Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

MSc: Environmental Sciences (Grade: Distinction)

Dissertation:     The evolutionary pathway to obligate foraging in Gyps vultures

2001 – 2005               Dept. of Built Environment, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

BSc: Geomatics (Grade: 1st)

Dissertation:     An Investigation into the Performance of Predictive GIS Archaeological Models in an Irish Context


Other Experience

2007-2008                  Zhejiang University of Technology and Jiangshan Middle School, Zhejiang Province, China

English Teacher

Teaching oral and written English at high school and university level

2005-2007                UPC Communications, Ireland

Geospatial analyst

Drafting maps and schematics using GIS and AutoCAD software

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26
All publications
  2018 - Scholarly publications
Nooren, K., Hoek, W. Z., Dermody, B. J., Galop, D., Metcalfe, S., Islebe, G. & Middelkoop, H. (2018). Climate impact on the development of Pre-Classic Maya civilisation. Climate of the Past, 14 (8), (pp. 1253-1273) (21 p.).

Nooren, K., Hoek, W.Z., Dermody, B.J., Galop, D., Metcalfe, S., Islebe, G., Middelkoop, H., 2018. Climate impact on the development of Pre-Classic Maya civilisation. Climate of the Past 14, 1253–1273. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-1253-2018


Dermody, B.J., Sivapalan, M., Stehfest, E., van Vuuren, D.P., Wassen, M.J., Bierkens, M.F.P., Dekker, S.C., 2018. A framework for modelling the complexities of food and water security under globalisation. Earth Syst. Dynam. 9, 103–118. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-103-2018


Dekker, S.C., de Boer, H.J., Dermody, B.J., Wagner-Cremer, F., Wassen, M.J. & Eppinga, M.B. (2015) Holocene peatland initiation in the Greater Everglades. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, p.p.2014JG002806.


Dermody, B.J., van Beek, R.P.H., Meeks, E., Klein Goldewijk, K., Scheidel, W., van der Velde, Y., Bierkens, M.F.P., Wassen, M.J. & Dekker, S.C. (2014) A virtual water network of the Roman world. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18 (12), p.pp.5025–5040.


Dermody, B.J., de Boer, H.J., Bierkens, M.F.P., Weber, S.L., Wassen, M.J. & Dekker, S.C. (2012) A seesaw in Mediterranean precipitation during the Roman Period linked to millennial-scale changes in the North Atlantic. Clim. Past, 8 (2), p.pp.637–651.


Dermody, B.J., Tanner, C.J. & Jackson, A.L. (2011) The evolutionary pathway to obligate scavenging in Gyps vultures. PLoS ONE, 6 (9).


Conferences, presentations and awards_________________________________________

2018 Awarded travel grant to join workshop on Socio-hydrological Systems  at Santa Fe Institute

2018 SENSE Master Class on Grasping Sustainability, Wageningen

2017 Invited presentation at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany

2017 SENSE Master Class on Grasping Sustainability, Wageningen

2017 Workshop on Agent-based Modelling, Complexity Laboratory, Utrecht

2016 Oral presentation at Conference on Complex Systems, Amsterdam

2016 Winner of the Martinus van Marum Prize from the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities for my PhD thesis. The prize of €12,500 is awarded every 5 years for a thesis focusing on the topic of environmental sciences

2016 Press conference at European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria

2016 Two oral presentations at European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria

2015 Invited presentation at Utrecht University Sustainability Symposium, the Netherlands

2015 Invited presentation at workshop on Complexity: a new framework to interpret ancient economic proxy data, Sagalassos, Turkey

2015 Invited lecture at UNESCO Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands

2015 Invited presentation at Inter-University Attraction Poles meeting, Brussels, Belgium

2015 Invited presentation at the Geohuis, Utrecht, the Netherlands 

2015 Oral presentation at European Geosciences Union, Vienna, Austria

2013 Two Poster Presentations at American Geophysical Union meeting, San Francisco, USA

2013 Invited lecture at Centre for Spatial and Textual Analysis, Stanford University, USA

2011 Invited presentation at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany

2011 Invited lecture at Aosta Summer School on Regional Climate Dynamics in the Mediterranean and beyond: An Earth System perspective

2011 Oral presentation Darwin centre of Biogeosciences Congress, the Netherlands

2010 Poster Presentation at International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), London


2018  'Cities drive food and water security', Evan Davies, Nature Sustainability

2017/18 Teaching Sustainability to Primary School Students

2016 Coordinator of Complex Systems Studies Workshop, part of Utrecht University focus area

2016 ‘Keeping 60 million Romans fed as climate changed’ L. Kalaugher, IOP Science

2016 ‘Kingdom-busting volcanoes linked to the rise of the Roman Empire’ A. Coghlan, New Scientist

2016 Coordinator of the Copernicus Institute Sustainability Blog

2015 Featured Early Career Scientist of the American Geophysical Union Hydrology section

2015 ‘Rome’s hidden water trade led to glory, maybe ruin’, J. Rosen, Earth Magazine

2015 ‘Aufstieg und Fall des Römischen Reiches hing vom Wasser ab’ B. Ferreira, Der Standard

2014 ‘Ancient Roman Water Networks Made the Empire Vulnerable’, F. Diep, Smithsonian

2014 ‘The food-water-energy nexus defeated the Romans. It could defeat us too’, J. Bridge, The Conversation

2014 'What did the Roman's ever do for us?They left a water warning', J. Bridge, The Conversation

2014 ‘Water’s role in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire’, B. Ferreira, Science Daily

2014 ‘Hoe het Romeinse succes omsloeg na klimaatverandering’, K. de Vre, Trouw

2014 ‘The Roman Method of Water Management’, D. Jolivet, Archaeology Magazine

2014 ‘Romeinen kampioenen watermanagement’, R. Fransen, Nederlands dagblad

2014 ‘L'empire romain est-il tombé à l'eau?, B. Ferreira, L’Obs

2014 ‘Roman Empire's downfall could have been caused by a breakdown in trade and food supply’, M. Russon, International Business Times

2014 'Acqua e grano alla base del destino dell'Impero Romano' B. Ferreira, Le Scienze

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Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26

My research interests are focused on unravelling the complex drivers of unsustainable water resource use. To answers these questions, I have developed a novel research approach which has emerged from my wide ranging experience on topics such as socio-environmental systems, water resources, global environmental change, network analysis, complex systems and historical analysis. I apply my expertise in methods such as multi-agent systems, GIS, and spatial and temporal statistics to answer these questions. 

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26


Sustainability Consultancy course (bachelors course)

Implementing Sustainability (bachelors course)

Sustainability (bachelors course)

Earth and the Environment (bachelors course)


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (BSc Lab course)

Environmental Impact Assessment (BSc course)

Sustainability Modelling and Indicators (MSc course)

Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26
Full name
dr. B. Dermody Contact details
Vening Meineszgebouw A

Princetonlaan 8a
Room 7.18
The Netherlands

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Gegenereerd op 2018-09-20 00:52:26
Last updated 22.08.2018