Employment history

Date: 2019–current
Job title: Research Fellow (Researcher Co-I)
Supervisor: Prof B. Wingate
Location: University of Exeter (UoE), Centre for Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics (CGAFD)
Project title: On the way to the limit: mathematics of fast-slow coupling in PDEs
Description: Research focused on demonstrating that nonlinear resonance causes the persistence of layer-type structures in fluids. Research methods include mathematics (e.g. solving PDEs, asymptotics, nonlinear resonance analysis) and computer coding (e.g. Shell script, Python, R) including setting up and running spectral methods and finite element methods models on the Isca High Performance Computer (HPC) system. Duties include publishing peer-reviewed research papers, presenting work at international conferences, developing new science collaborations, teaching, data/risk management, helping to secure new research funding, completing training courses, managing project finances. See for some examples of this work.

Date: 2016–2019
Job title: Research Fellow
Supervisor: Prof B. Wingate
Location: UoE, CGAFD
Project title: Nonlinear resonance in the persistence of layers in stably-stratified fluids
Description: As above.

Date: 2015–2016
Jon title: Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Supervisor: Dr J. Yearsley
Location: University College Dublin, Ireland
Project title: Assessing Ireland's risk to airborne spread of ash dieback disease with Lagrangian stochastic models
Description: This work focused on using Lagrangian atmospheric modelling; the NAME (Numerical Atmospheric-dispersion Modelling Environment) model, developed by the UK Met Office, was used for the work. NAME was compiled and run on the UCD Sonic HPC system. The model setup used observations of pathogen distributions requiring statistical skills. Model results were analysed (using Python, IDL and R) and presented to Irish policy makers and forest management officials.

Date: 2004–2009
Job title: Hydrographic/Geomatic Surveyor
Description: I worked as a team member and independently when required, to capture the shape and composition of the ocean floor (e.g., using ship-mounted and towed sonar arrays) and land surface.


Date: 2010–2015
Qualification: PhD (Doctor of Philosophy, Physics)
Project title: Interactions between downslope flows and a developing cold-air pool
Supervisor: Dr C. Chemel
Location: University of Hertfordshire (UH), School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics (PAM)
Description: Eessential work for the development of a parameterisation scheme to account for cold-air pooling processes in operational weather prediction models. Research included Eulerian atmospheric modelling using the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF). The WRF model was compiled and run on the UH Star HPC system with observations used to set model initial conditions. I attended the PAM MSc course Geophysical Fluid Dynamics.

Date: 2009–2010
Qualification: MSc Meteorology
Location: University of Reading
Award: Distinction
Modules: Mathematics, Atmospheric Physics (thermodynamics, cloud physics, boundary-layer physics, radiative transfer), MATLAB & Fortran, Boundary-Layer Meteorology & Micrometeorology, Measurements & Instrumentation, Remote Sensing, Oceanography, Climate Change, Mid-latitude and tropical weather systems. Dissertation title: Convectively-generated internal gravity waves.

Date: 2000–2004
Qualification: BSc (Hons) Marine Science
Location: Southampton Solent University
Award: Upper Second Class (2:1)
Modules: Meteorology, Oceanography, Statistics, Marine Navigation, Hydrographic Surveying, Geographical Information Systems & Remote Sensing, Law of the Sea.

Teaching & supervision

Lecturer for the MSc course `Waves, Instabilities and Turbulence' within the Mathematics Department at UoE. I delivered the first part of the module (entitled `Waves') and gave 12 lectures in total to a class of around 25 students. I helped to define the module coursework and exams and marked the student `Waves' coursework. We received excellent student feedback and were invited to present out teaching methods to the other academic staff within the college. Before this work I completed the teacher training course Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE), stage 1. I also contributed to the teaching during my PhD and whilst at UCD in Ireland.

I assisted in the supervision of the following MSc student projects:
J. Reji, Investigating heat transport in resonant stratified layer formation, UoE, 2019–2020
M. Juniper, Resonance in the formation of stratified layers, UoE, 2018–2019
S. Jones, Chaotic energy-conserving convection models at atmospheric Reynold numbers, UoE, 2016–2017
S. Lawrence, Chaotic energy-conserving convection models at atmospheric Reynold numbers, UoE, 2016–2017
N. Loureiro, Developing a quality control and analysis system for meteorological observations in southwest Angola, UCD, 2015


Climate group, UoE, 2020
CGAFD, UoE, 2020
UK Fluids Network conference Dynamics of Rotating Fluids, University of Oxford, 2020
The 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD), Seattle, USA, 2019 (Session chair)
Firedrake Workshop, Imperial College London, 2018
CGAFD, UoE, 2018
CGAFD, UoE, 2016
FP1103 COST Action FRAXBACK Final Conference, Riga, Latvia, 2016
NAME User Workshop conference, UK Met Office, Exeter, 2015
School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics (PAM), UH, 2014
European Meteorological Society (EMS), Reading, 2013
International Conference on Alpine Meteorology (ICAM), Slovenia, 2013

Awarded research grants

Prof B. Wingate (PI), Dr C. Cotter (Co-I), Dr B. Cheng (Co-I), Dr D. Acreman (Co-I), Dr P. Burns (Researcher Co-I), Dr J. Shipton (Researcher Co-I), On the way to the limit: mathematics of fast-slow coupling in PDEs, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), 1,043,224 GBP @ FeC, 2019.

Dr P. Burns, Dr J. Yearsley, Understanding plant-pathogen dispersal using numerical atmospheric modelling and data assimilation, Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, 80,360 GBP, 2016

Membership of professional bodies

Member of the Institute of Physics (IOP), since 2021
Committee member for IOP Nonlinear and Complex Physics group, since 2021
Member of the University and College Union (UCU), since 2020
Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society (FRMetS), since 2020
Member of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), since 2020
Member of the Challenger Society for Marine Science, since 2020
Member of the American Physical Society (APS), since 2019
Reviewer for the journal Computers and Fluids, 2018


Burns, P., J. Shipton, D. Acreman and B. Wingate. 2020. Nonlinear resonance in the persistence of layers in stably-stratified fluids.

Burns, P., V. Timmermann and J. Yearsley. 2020. Meteorological factors associated with the timing and abundance of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus spore release. International Journal of Biometeorology. (Under Review)

Prat-Guitart, N., C. M. Belcher, D. K. Thompson, P. Burns and J. M. Yearsley. 2017. Fine-scale distribution of moisture in the surface of a degraded blanket bog and its effects on the potential spread of smouldering fire. Ecohydrology. 10(8):1-11

Chemel, C., and P. Burns. 2015. Pollutant Dispersion in a Developing Valley Cold-Air Pool. Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 154(3):391-408

Burns, P., and C. Chemel. 2015. Interactions between Downslope Flows and a Developing Cold- Air Pool. Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 154(1):57-80

Burns, P., and C. Chemel. 2014. Evolution of Cold-Air-Pooling Processes in Complex Terrain. Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 150:423-447