My main research interests lie at the interface between hydrology and ecology. I focus on the water needs of aquatic ecosystems, including rivers and wetlands. I recently led the definition of UK river requirements to meet the European Water Framework Directive. As leader of the World Bank Environment Flow advisory panel, I have been supporting the development of environmental flow allocations in Tanzania and China and advising on global programme. I coordinated the definition of guidelines on environmental flow releases from reservoirs as the UK contribution to the World Commission on Dams.
My other major research area is the hydrological functions of wetlands. Recent work has included the development of methods to assess the vulnerability of wetlands in the Himalayas and restoration of wetlands through reinstallation of surface topography. As a member of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the International Convention on Wetlands responsible for water programme, I have developed guidance for Contracting Parties groundwater and water quality issues of wetlands.
I am now a CEH Fellow. I was a researcher at CEH and its predecessor, the Institute of Hydrology, since 1984. My early work involved the development of rainfall and runoff models for flood risk assessment. In recent years my research interests have moved to environmental issues, particularly the water needed to maintain healthy aquatic and wetland ecosystems.
In the early 1990s, I was seconded to IUCN-The World Conservation Union in Switzerland, where I acted as Freshwater Management Adviser, working on a range of aquatic ecosystem projects and helping to develop IUCN's freshwater policy. I remained chair of the IUCN Wetlands Programme Advisory Committee.
I have been involved with other international organisations, as leader of the World Bank advisor panel on environmental flows, reviewer of environmental flow assessment strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Australia and lead on water issues for the International Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar). I was a member of the World Meteorological Organization's task force on environmental aspects of flood management and made major inputs in the work of the World Commission on Dams.
From 1989 to 1991 I was seconded to the headquarters of the Natural Environment Research Council in Swindon, UK, as a coordinator of research in the terrestrial and freshwater sciences. Since January 2007 I have managed around 40 scientific staff working in freshwater biology, hydrochemistry, pollution, wetlands and catchment processes. I led CEH's Natural Capital science area until 2017 and I am a visiting Professor at University College London.
- PhD, University of St Andrews: Estimating flood statistics from basin characteristics in Scotland
- Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management British Hydrological Society