Professor Woods studied Mathematics at St Johns College, University of Cambridge, followed by a PhD in DAMTP, Cambridge on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. He spent 2 years as a Research Fellow at St Johns College and as a Green Scholar at the IGPP, USCD, San Diego before taking up a lectureship for 5 years at the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics, Cambridge. After 3 years as Professor of Applied Mathematics at University of Bristol, he was appointed BP Professor and Head of the BP Institute, University of Cambridge.
His work is characterised by the development of simplified mathematical and experimental models of complex fluid flow processes covering a wide range of phenomena from the dynamics of explosive volcanic eruptions, to geothermal power generation, carbon sequestration and oil recovery in heterogeneous porous rocks. His work on the dynamics of mixing in turbulent buoyant plumes and gravity currents has led to new insights about the ascent height of volcanic eruption columns and the run-out distance of ash flows, as well as constraints on the dynamics of hydrothermal and oil plumes in the deep sea.
He has also developed fundamental understanding of ventilation flows in buildings, developing strategies to minimise heat loss associated with low-energy natural ventilation, as well as exploring the controls on the dispersal of air-borne infection. Other work has included modelling the dynamics of traffic flows, to elucidate controls on the collective behaviour of individual vehicles and strategies to regulate the flow.