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Environment Research Group

What is the Environment Research Group?

The Environment Research Group (ERG) addresses important topics in the physical, biological and social sciences, within a global context of rapid environmental change and the need for sustainable solutions to support human wellbeing. Staff within this research group have a commitment to tackling important and significant questions in their fields, and to inform national and international policies. The results for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 indicate that a significant amount of the research published by members of the group was rated either 4* or 3*.

Areas of interest

The Environment Research Group has research interests in six areas:

  • Degradation and urbanisation of landscapes
  • Flooding and water resources
  • Management of wastes and resources
  • Geomorphology and geology
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Radioactivity in the natural and built environment

Recent projects

The Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area Project

Nene Valley logo

In 2012 The Nene Valley was chosen as one of 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) for England. Government funding was provided to make the Nene Valley better for wildlife, people and the economy. The Nene Valley NIA project was led by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, together with a wider partnership including more than 20 other organisations such as the Environment Agency, Northamptonshire County Council, and the RSPB.

The ERG’s role was to assess the benefits that people derive from the natural environment, which are known as ecosystem services. They are critical to our wellbeing and economic prosperity, yet are consistently undervalued in decision making. By identifying, mapping and valuing ecosystem services in the Nene Valley we improved our understanding of the importance of the natural environment for people and the economy. Our overall assessment was that that ecosystem services in the Nene Valley are worth £118.7M each year.

Current projectsDEFRA logo

Professor Ian Foster and his research students are looking at how to increase the benefits of field-scale soil protection measures, in order to understand their impact at the landscape level. The main aim is to develop a toolkit that assesses the strategies that farmers might use to reduce the input of sediment and nutrients to rivers. The project is based in the Hampshire Avon Demonstration Test Catchment, one of four catchments being researched in this way in England and Wales, and is funded by Defra.

External partners

ERG works with a range of external partners locally, nationally and internationally.

RSPB logo

Worked with the RSPB on the Nene Valley NIA project

North Wyke logo Hampshire Avon logo

Collaborators on a Defra-funded PhD studentship being undertaken by Matilda Biddulph based in the Hampshire Avon

Northamptonshire County Council logo

Working with the Northamptonshire County Council on the Nene Valley NIA research and various wastes management projects

DEFRA logo

Funding a research project based in the Hampshire Avon and research project coded: Defra SP1318. Collaborators include North Wyke Rothamsted Research, ADAS, Anglia Ruskin University and Cranfield University.

Major collaborators on a long-term and on-going project researching erosion and land degradation in the karoo region of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Funding for a range of projects has derived from the UK Natural Environment Research Council, British Academy and the South African National Research Foundation. Sediment Pressures and Mitigation Options for the River Rother (The SMART Project). The South Downs National Park funds a current project run in collaboration with the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust and Oxford University (Prof. John Boardman) studying erosion and sediment transport in the River Rother.

Wildlife trust logo

Worked with the Wildlife Trust on the Nene Valley NIA project.

National Institute of Health Research logo

This project examined the nature of the link between the management of waste within the National Health Service and the risk of the spread of healthcare associated infections.


Leverhulme trust

This project, which was conducted with the Universities of Kingston, Portsmouth and Exeter, examined the impact of a range of socio-psychological factors on the lifestyles and life courses of households in London.

Life logo

Led by WRAP and working in conjunction with other partners from the UK and the Netherlands, including Rijkswaterstaat, the Knowledge Transfer Network, and the Aldersgate Group, this project aims to demonstrate how businesses and their supply chains can implement resource efficient business models.

ERG Staff

Staff working with the ERG include:

Prof. Jeff Ollerton, Professor of Biodiversity and Research Leader, ERG

Prof Jeff Ollerton
01604 893365

Prof. Ian Foster, Professor of Geomorphology

Prof Ian Foster
01604 893348

Prof. Margaret Bates, Professor of Sustainable Wastes Management

Prof Margaret Bates
01604 893352

Prof. Ian Livingstone, Professor of Physical Geography, Head of the Graduate School

Prof Ian Livingstone
01604 893362

Prof. Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor
Professor Nick Petford
01604 893300

Prof. Emeritus Paul S. Phillips

Paul Phillips
01604 893366

Dr Duncan McCollin, Associate Professor in Ecology

Duncan McCollin
01604 893364

Dr Robin Crockett, Reader in Data Analysis

Dr Robin Crockett
01604 893107

Dr Janet Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Management
01604 893361

Dr Terry Tudor, Senior Lecturer in Wastes Management, Visiting Professor at University of Brescia, Italy

Dr Terry Tudor
01604 893372

Dr Greg Spellman, Senior Lecturer in Geography

Greg Spellman
01604 893368

Dr Chris Holt, Senior Lecturer in Geography
01604 893360

Christopher John Groves-Kirkby, Visiting Fellow in Radon and Health Data Analysis

Christopher John Groves-Kirkby

Prof. Tony Denman, Emeritus Professor of Medical Physics

Professor Tony Denman

Environment Research Group Students

ERG currently has 11 research students, Mattie Biddulph, Ruth Copeland-Phillips, Jen Evans, Louise Maxwell, Kathryn Harrold, Muzafar Hussain Sirohi, Chinedum Okezie, Emily Howard-Williams, Alex Laws.


Ruth Copeland-Phillips

Ruth Copeland-Philips

Ruth’s research focuses on the sources, transport and fate of heavy metals and radionuclides within urban drainage systems. Based in a developing Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDs) at Upton in Northampton, Ruth is investigating the fate of fallout and primordial gamma-emitting radionuclides, together with a range of heavy metals, in a drainage system intended to minimise the transport of many contaminants from urban surfaces to water courses. The aim is to identify key areas where management interventions will likely be required in order to sustain SUDs functioning in the long term.

Louise Maxwell

Louise Maxwell

Louise’s research project aims to examine how higher educational institutions in England engage with and embed the principles of carbon management within their policies and practices.

Kathryn Harrold

Kath’s project will assess how pollinators interact with different landscapes and how these landscapes provide the resources that the pollinators require. The study will be carried out throughout the Nene Valley catchment area incorporating areas of agricultural land, urban areas, woodlands, grasslands and other habitats.

Muzafar Hussain Sirohi

Muzafar Hussain Sirohi

Muzafar’s project is focusing on solitary bees as important wild pollinators, examining the diversity of solitary bees in an urban core and understanding the effects of urbanization on solitary bees by comparing different variables associated with urbanization such as buildings, impervious surfaces, open areas, and road traffic.

Matilda Biddulph

Matilda Biddulph
Mattie’s is trying to develop a toolkit that allows assessment of mitigation options that might be used by farmers to reduce the input of sediment and nutrients to rivers. Mattie’s project is based in the Hampshire Avon Demonstration Test Catchment; one of 4 catchments being researched in this way in England and Wales.

Jennine Evans

Jen’s research aims to understand some of the sediment pressures in the River Rother (West Sussex). Jen has established a network of monitoring and sampling sites in the Rother catchment. Here she monitors water quality and collects river transported suspended sediment and bed sediment and is testing a number of methods for establishing where in the catchment the sediment came from.

Emily Howard-Williams

Emily’s research is concerned with the conservation and reintroduction of rare harvest mice. She is based at Moulton College.

Chinedum Okezie

Chinedum’s research aims to understand the policies and practices employed in the management of healthcare waste in Abuja, Nigeria, and using the World Health Organization’s ‘Blue Book’ as best practice, identify recommendations for improvement in practice.

Working with ERG

If you are interested in working with ERG please contact


Select a recent output below or view all research outputs on NECTAR.