John Downer is a Senior Lecturer in Risk and Resilience at the School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies at the University of Bristol. He holds degrees from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Cambridge, and Cornell University. Downer's research interests lie at the intersection of science, risk, and governance, with a focus on the role of experts in debates about environmental and technological risk. He has studied engineering debates about testing, safety, and regulation in the aviation and nuclear industries, and his current research focuses on the risks of complex technological infrastructures, particularly nuclear power, and the technopolitics of environmental debates, particularly radiological pollution.
Downer has published extensively on the subject of nuclear safety and risk assessment. His research has focused on the evaluation and reliability of reactor safety, the occurrence and management of accidents, and the credibility of nuclear risk assessments in the wake of disasters such as Fukushima. In his work, Downer has argued that current methods of assessing and mitigating risk in the nuclear industry are fundamentally flawed and have led to a false sense of security. He has also explored the role of experts and institutions in shaping public perceptions of nuclear risk and the ways in which disasters can be made "invisible" by authorities.
You can read an excellent article by John Downer, 'On Foreseeable Failure' on pages 6 and 7 of the special 'Close Calls, Near Misses and Early Warnings' issue of 'Risk&Regulation'.