Katy Willis

Katy Willis


I worked in the oil and gas industry before reading for an undergraduate Masters in geology at Cardiff University. I graduated in 2015. Currently I am a PhD student at the University of Leeds working with Professor Greg Houseman in modelling strain localisation mechanisms in the crust.

In 2014 I completed a 3 month intern position at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Here I worked alongside Prof. Dave Clauge to devise and implement a project using high-resolution bathymetric data to look at the contribution of faulting to extension at mid-ocean ridges.

I am involved with NERC’s Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes and Tectonics, COMET, a collaboration between geoscientists in Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, UCL, Glasgow, and Reading.

I am involved in Diversity in Geosciences, UK, a chapter of the International Association for Geoscience Diversity. This organisation has a remit to create access and inclusion for persons with disabilities in the Geosciences. https://theiagd.org/

Outside academia I train in Japanese martial arts, (Aikido and Kenjutsu) and spend my weekends hill-walking. I am a field volunteer at Whixal Moss, the UK's third largest lowland peatbog, which is managed by Natural England.

My linked in profile can be viewed at: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/katherine-willis-1230b664

I demonstrate for the following modules.

  • SOEE1580: Structural Geology
  • SOEE2050: Deformation Processes (including residential fieldwork on Anglesey)

Research interests

I am interested in the mechanisms of fault development and propagation.  I use numerical solutions to viscous deformation problems and incorporating these feedback systems in order to develop understanding of when and how shear zones are likely to develop in the lithosphere. I also aim to explore the depth to which localised strain can develop. Model results can be compared to specific fault zones, such as the San Andreas, or to wider regions of deformation, such as the Tibetan Plateau.

Previous research projects have looked at fault development at mid-ocean ridges, and the the distribution of fracture networks in fault damage zones.


  • MESci, Geology. Cardiff University.
  • HND Marine Engineering. South Tyneside College

Research groups and institutes

  • Geodynamics and Tectonics
  • Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics
  • Planetary Exploration