Risk analysis consultants
     D. Warner North :: Overview

D. Warner North is principal scientist of NorthWorks, a consulting firm located in San Francisco, California. Until 2009 he served as a consulting professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Over the past fifty years Dr. North has carried out applications of decision analysis and risk analysis for electric utilities in the US and Mexico, for the petroleum and chemical industries, and for government agencies with responsibility for energy and environmental protection.

Dr. North has served as a member and consultant to the Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency since 1978, and as a Presidentially appointed member of the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (1989-1994). Dr. North is a co-author of many reports dealing with environmental risk for the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, including Risk Assessment in the Federal Government: Managing the Process (1983), Improving Risk Communication (1989), Science and Judgment in Risk Assessment (1994), Understanding Risk: Informing Decisions in a Democratic Society (1996), and Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making (2008).

Dr. North was a member of the Board on Radioactive Waste Management of the National Research Council from 1995 until 1999. He was the chair for the steering and advisory committees for the International Workshop on the Disposition of High-Level Radioactive Waste, held November 4-5, 1999, and leading to the report, Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: The Continuing Societal and Technical Challenges, published in June 2001.

Dr. North is a past president (1991-92) of the international Society for Risk Analysis, a recipient of the Frank P. Ramsey Medal from the Decision Analysis Society in 1997 for lifetime contributions to the field of decision analysis, and the 1999 recipient of the Outstanding Risk Practitioner Award from the Society for Risk Analysis.

Dr. North received his Ph.D. in operations research from Stanford University and his B.S. in physics from Yale University.


Dr. North with Stanford University Professor Kenneth Arrow, at the Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland on December 7, 2009. Professor Arrow received SRA's Distinguished Achievement Award to add to his Nobel Prize in Economics. Dr. North introduced him for his plenary address.

Dr. North speaking at the podium of the Belgian Senate. Behind him is Senate President Anne-Marie Lizin, presiding. Photo taken April 18, 2006 at a Conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which in that year had Belgian presidency.

Sustainable Fuel Cycle Task Force

Dr. North serves as a member of the Science Panel of this group, which was established following the Obama Administration's actions to curtail further activity on the proposed repository for high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Information on the Task Force and its Science Panel has been available on its website (sustainablefuelcyclesciencepanel.org, which should be online again soon).

The Science Panel has sent letters, most recently to Secretary of Energy Perry (letter dated November 14, 2017), and previously to him as the nominee for Secretary, (letter dated January 23, 2017) recommending that he make one of his highest priorities the restarting of the Yucca Mountain licensing process. (The links above are to these letters as pdf files.)

Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future

Warner North testified before the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, Feb 1, 2012 on the Blue Ribbon Commission's Final Report to the Secretary of Energy. A perspective article based on this testimony was published in Risk Analysis January 2013: "Can Sisyphus Succeed? Getting U.S. High-Level Nuclear Waste into a Geological Repository," Risk Analysis 33(1):2-14, 2013.

Warner North was an invited participant at the meeting of the Disposal Subcommittee of the Commission in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2010. This presentation to the Blue Ribbon Commission was as an individual invited by the Commission, and not connected with his activities with the Sustainable Fuel Cycle Task Force Science Panel. Similarly, his testimony to the House Subcommittee on February 1, 2012 was as an individual invited by the Subcommittee.

Teaching at Stanford University


MS&E 453 will again be taught in the Spring quarter on Wednesday late afternoons, 4:30 to 6:20 PM. Dr. North's participation is planned for April 12.


Dr. North guest-lectured for MS&E 453 on January 20, 2016.


Dr. North guest-lectured for MS&E on February 4, 2015.


MS&E 453. His October 3, 2012 lecture for this class in 2012 paired him with Dr. Steve Barrager on management of emerging risks. The Concept Note for IRGC that served as the basis for this lecture is now available.

Society for Risk Analysis

In April 2008 Dr. North became the Area Editor for decision sciences for Risk Analysis, an international journal, published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

Dr. North organized and wrote the introduction for a special issue published September 2016 on health risk analysis for criteria air pollutants. He has written an introductory commentary for a survey article on risk from space weather. Both the article and the introduction are in press for the February 2017 issue.

His book review of five more books of interest to the risk analysis community was published in the February 2014 issue of Risk Analysis: Marc Gerstein, Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental, Nancy G. Leveson, Engineering a Safer World: Systems Thinking Applied to Safety, Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail but Some Don't, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, James Owen Weatherall, The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable. (At the Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting in December 2014, Dr. North was given an award as "best book reviewer.")

The July 2012 issue of Risk Analysis features a profile of Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. Dr. North's review of Professor Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (plus two other related books on risk from the viewpoint of cognitive psychology) is in this issue.

Dr. North's comments on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill appear in the SRA RISK Newsletter, 3rd Quarter 2010, page 6, as part of a series of comments by SRA past presidents.

National Research Council, The National Academies

Dr. North is a member of the committee that has organized workshops in 2013 on risks and improving governance for shale gas development. See the home page for links to workshop materials.

Dr. North is a member of the National Research Council committee that reviewed, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the risk assessment work done by NIH contractors for the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory (NEIDL) at Boston University. The committee's report, dated November 5, 2010, is available (without charge) on the National Academy Press website, as are the previous reports from this committee. (Links to these reports are in the text of this most recent report.) The Committee met again in Washington, D.C. on November 2, 2011, and its latest letter report, dated December 6, 2011 is now available.

Dr. North served on the Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making of the National Research Council. The report, Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making, is now available through the National Academies Press and its website.

International Risk Governance Council (IRGC)

From March 2006 to June 2012 Dr. North served on the Scientific and Technical Council of the International Risk Governance Council. He authored two chapters in the book Global Risk Governance: Concepts and Practice Using the IRGC Framework. He has served as review coordinator for IRGC Policy Briefs on Regulation of Carbon Capture and Storage and Risk Governance Guidelines for Bioenergy Policies, and the Opinion Piece for IRGC by M. Granger Morgan and Katharine Ricke, Cooling the Earth Through Solar Radiation Management: The need for research and an approach to its governance. In 2011 Dr. North led the development of a Concept Note, Improving the Management of Emerging Risks.

Other Professional Activities and Interests

Risk from Toxic Substances: NS3, Symposia Presentations

Dr. North served as a member of the planning committee and speaker for the Naphthalene State of the Science Symposium October 8-12, 2006 in Monterey, California. The proceedings of this symposium were published in 2008 in a supplementary volume of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.

Dr. North gave the "State of the Science" paper on decision analysis, multicriteria decision analysis, and cost-benefit analysis at the Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology (CCT) Workshop on Probabilistic Risk Assessment, "Bridging Components Along the Exposure-Dose-Response Continuum," sponsored by the Society of Toxicology, Washington, D.C., July 25-27, 2005.

SRA Symposium, 2006

Dr. North participated in a Public Forum May 23-24, 2006 at the Cafritz Conference Center at George Washington University in Washington D.C., organized by the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA), on the Risk Assessment Bulletin giving guidance for Federal Agency practice on risk assessment, proposed by the Office of Management.

Energy Security, especially in the Baltic Region

Dr. North chaired a session on energy security in the Baltic Region at the International Association of Energy Economists (IAEE) Meeting in Vilnius August 27, 2010.

NATO Workshop, 2009

Dr. North participated in this one-day Workshop, in Vilnius, Lithuania on October 16, 2009. Copies of the presentation materials may be requested by e-mail to northworks@mindspring.com.

OSCE, 2006

Dr. North gave an invited presentation, "Energy Security in the Baltic Region: Issues Motivating Improvement in International Cooperation on Risk Governance" as part of a Conference, Security and Risk Management in Europe, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)) in association with the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), in the Senate of the Kingdom of Belgium, Brussels, April 18-19, 2006.

Russia, 2006

Dr. North was an invited speaker for the Risk Management Conference in Moscow March 1, 2006 organized by the Russian electric utility joint stock company, RAO-"United Energy Systems." Dr. North gave a paper on energy security for Lithuania at the SEIF-IV Conference in Brussels November 16-18, 2005. He presented a similar paper more focused on analytical tools at the VNIIGAZ-GAZPROM meeting on risk management in Moscow February 1-2, 2006.

Phytosanitary Risk

Dr. North gave the keynote address at the First International Symposium on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Risk Methodology, organized by Tuskegee University under sponsorship from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and the Society for Risk Analysis, Washington D.C., August 11-13, 2005.