Our Researchers

Dr. Rob Brown
Research Scientist
(709) 778-0422
Research Areas:
Maritime and Offshore Rescue and Evacuation, Sea Survival, Human Factors & Lifesaving Appliance Design, Oil Spill Response, Fire Safety Engineering, Probabilistic Modelling

Dr. Rob Brown is a research scientist whose primary focus surrounds human factors and equipment performance in maritime and offshore emergency situations – particularly through the processes of evacuation, survival and rescue. His research is conducted both in laboratory environments and at full scale during field trials. Results collected are disseminated through peer-reviewed publications, academic conferences, media interviews and workshops.  Dr. Brown is regularly engaged with development of regulations at the International Maritime Organization and is involved with standards development through the Canadian Standards Association and the International Standards Organization.

Some specific research areas of Dr. Brown include:

  • Evacuation for Maritime and Offshore
    • Measurement, modelling and validation of passenger evacuation behaviour on cruise ships and ferries
    • Quantifying stretcher movement during mustering and abandonment from passenger ships
    • Technology solutions for emergency tracking of evacuees
    • Measurement of forces and accelerations experienced by evacuees using chutes and slides
    • Human performance during helicopter underwater escape
  • Sea Survival, Human Performance and Lifesaving Appliance Design/Operation
    • Arctic cruise ships and extended survival requirements
    • Thermal performance (life rafts, lifeboats, personal protective equipment) during survival in cold regions
    • Ventilation requirements for life rafts and lifeboats for extended survival situations
    • Maneuverability of lifeboats in pack ice and operational performance of life rafts in realistic conditions
    • Anthropometrics of evacuees and lifeboat design
    • Fire resistance of totally enclosed lifeboats at full scale
  • Maritime and Offshore Rescue
    • Quantifying rescue processes at sea
    • Prediction of rescue response capabilities in the offshore sector
    • Probabilistic modelling of “vessel of opportunity” and rescue in the Arctic
    • Testing novel rescue concepts
    • Medical preparedness for ships in remote regions

Recent/Current research projects:

DescriptionNature of
Total Project/
Portion Allocated
Probabilistic modelling of rescue
processes in the offshore sector
PI $83k / $83k Early
Measurement of rescue performance in the
offshore sector
PI $75k / $75k Ongoing 2022
Characterizing performance of personal locator
beacons in heavy sea conditions
PI $267k / $267k Late
Human behaviour assessment for historical fires
and development of a behaviour notation
Collaborator N/A Ongoing 2020
Arctic and North Atlantic Security and Emergency
Preparedness Network
Collaborator $5.3M / $40k Ongoing 2023
Field exercises to test and assess preparedness of
procedures, equipment and regulations for
emergency evacuation for passenger ships in the
Collaborator $1.56M / $20k Early
Closing the gap between incident and response:
using personal locator beacons in the fishing industry
Collaborator $1.9M / $130k Early
Inter-organizational Coordination of Mass Rescue
Operations in Complex Environments
Collaborator $1.6M / $75k Ongoing 2020
Arctic Summer School in Nuuk Greenland: The
Politics of Maritime Security in the Arctic
Collaborator $132k / $70.3k Ongoing 2019

Summer School in Nuuk, Greenland “The Politics of Maritime Security in the Arctic” (collaboration between University of Greenland, University of Copenhagen and Memorial University (Marine Institute). Information is available online.

Funded graduate student opportunities exist – please email for details.

Significant Publications:

Solberg, K. E., R. Brown, E. Skogvoll & O.T. Gudmestad (2017). Risk Reduction as a Result of Implementation of the Functional Based IMO Polar Code in the Arctic Cruise Industry. In The Interconnected Arctic—UArctic Congress 2016 (Chapter 26, pp. 257-268). Springer, Cham.

Brown, R., Galea, E.R., Deere, S. & Filippidis, L. (2015). Using Infra-Red Technology to Track People Moving in the Built Environment – Accuracy of Automatically Measuring Walking Speed and Crowd Congestion.  Proceedings of the 6th international symposium on Human Behaviour in Fire, Cambridge, UK, Sept 28-30, 2015.

E. Galea, S. Deere, R. Brown & L.Filippidis (2013). An Experimental Validation of an Evacuation Model Using Data-Sets Generated from Two Large Passenger Ships.  Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Journal of Ship Research, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp 155-170, Sept 2013.

Brown, R. K. Evely, G. Small & S. MacKinnon (2013). On the use of the Dacon Scoop to Recover Loaded Liferafts at Sea.  Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering, June 2013.

Brown, R., Galea, E., Deere, S. & Filippidid, L. (2013). Response Time Data-Sets for Large Passenger Ferries and Cruise Ships Derived from Sea Trials.  Transactions Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Vol 155, Part A1, International Journal of Maritime Engineering, Jan-Mar, 2013.