EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water and Waste Infrastructure Systems Engineered for Resilience (Water-WISER)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Civil Engineering


The world is changing fast. Rapid urbanisation, large scale population movements, increasing pressure from climate change, natural and man-made disasters create enormous pressures on local and national governments to provide housing, water, sanitation, solid waste (rubbish) management and other critical services. In the UK there is also an ongoing challenge associated with aging infrastructure (many sewers for example are more than 100 years old) and at the same time, calls for new investment in housing, the construction of new towns, and an urgent need to reduce reliance on expensive fossil fuels, reduce pollution and increase the recovery of valuable resources. As economic conditions improve, people naturally demand better services; twenty-four hour water piped direct to the house and convenient safe private toilets have replaced public stand pipes and public toilets as the aspiration of many families in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America (the "global south"). All of this creates both a challenge and an opportunity. In coming decades there will be a huge demand for new infrastructure investments in the global south; more than 4.4 billion people worldwide do not have a sanitation system that effectively collects and treats all the waste produced by families, while 2.4 billion people urgently need new water supply services. The UK engineering industry is poised to play a significant role in meeting both this global demand and the need for new innovations at home. But therein lies the challenge; the new generation of services and infrastructure must, by very definition, be essentially different in nature from what has been traditionally provided. In an era of increasing uncertainty from, for example, the changing climate, the traditional approach to the design of piped water supplies and sewerage networks would result in such a major over design that the investment costs alone would be prohibitive. Similarly, it is no longer acceptable to just keep adding additional treatment processes on to waste water treatment systems to meet increasingly challenging conditions and higher discharge standards, nor is it acceptable to continue to pump valuable nutrients and carbon into our rivers and streams; new approaches are needed, which recover the nutrient and energy value of human and solid waste streams, in fact turning away from the idea of waste altogether and moving towards the idea of resource management and the so-called circular economy.
What is needed to meet this demand is a new generation of research engineers and scientists trained not only in the fundamentals of 'what is known' but in the more challenging area of 'what can be re-imagined'. The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water and Waste Infrastructure Services Engineered for Resilience (Water-WISER) will train five cohorts of researchers with the new skills needed to meet these enormous challenges. Students in the Centre will have the opportunity to study at one of three globally-leading Universities working on resilient infrastructure and development. They will take a one year Masters course and then move on to carry out tailored research, in partnership with engineering consultancy firms, universities or development agencies such as the World Bank, UNICEF or WaterAid; studying how to deliver innovative, effective and resilient infrastructure and services in rapidly growing poor cities.
Water-WISER graduates will combine a solid training in the fundamental engineering and science of water and sanitation, solid waste management, water resources and drainage, with much broader training and development which will build the skills needed to collaborate with non-engineers and non-scientists, to work with sociologists and political scientists, city planners, digital designers, business development specialists and administrators, health specialists, professionals working in international development and finance.

Planned Impact

Water-WISER will train a cohort of 50 British research engineers and scientists and equip them to work in challenging environments both in the low-income settings of rapidly growing poor cities and in the changing urban environment of the UK, Europe and other regions with a historic endowment of aging infrastructure. The vision is for a generation of engineers with the skills to deliver the trans-disciplinary innovations needed to ensure that future water, waste and sanitation infrastructure is resilient to the stresses posed by rapid urbanisation, global climate change and increasingly extreme natural and man-made disasters. Our alumni will address the urgent need to re-imagine urban spaces as net contributors to ecological and environmental well-being rather than being net users of vital resources such as energy, nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon. These new leaders will be an essential resource if the UK is to deliver on its commitment to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 6 which calls for universal access to safely managed water and sanitation services, within planetary and local ecological boundaries. This next generation of research engineers will enable UK-based engineering consultancies, manufacturers, and utility companies to grow their share of the expanding global market for water and waste services, for example; in the water services industry from 3% to 10% (an increase of £33 billion per annum) by 2030, and attract significant inward investment.
The research which Water-WISER cohorts enable will form the basis of new innovations in the design and delivery of resilient infrastructure and services. Innovations developed by Water-WISER graduates will inform how growing cities are designed and built in the global south and will be used to inform the re-engineering and replacement of the aging infrastructure on which the UK's water and waste services are currently reliant. Our alumni will form the new generation of leaders who will play a central role in securing a larger share of the international water and waste management consultancy market to UK consultancies. The network of expertise and skills created by Water-WISER will enhance potential for collaborations between major UK players (for example strengthening links between UK consultancy, the Department for International Development, and leading UK water agencies such as WaterAid and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor) and between UK companies and partners in the global south including international investors such as the World Bank, European Investment Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Graduates of Water-WISER will enter industry, academia and development agencies having spent a substantial period (minimum of six months) embedded in an industry or development partner organisation delivering their field-based research. Water-WISER students will thus gain a unique combination of trans-disciplinary training, field experience and cohort networking; they are destined for leadership roles in UK and international engineering and development consultancies, academia, international development banks, international agencies such as the United Nations and international non-governmental organisations.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022066/1 01/06/2019 30/11/2027
2294177 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/11/2023 Rebecca Lewis
2297619 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Hannah Ritchie
2308770 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/11/2023 Alun Pinder
2272067 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/04/2021 Harriet Twine Roberts
2426134 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 31/10/2024 Grace Phiri
2293669 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 03/12/2019 Abdelkawy ABDOU
2277272 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Mst Sufia Sultana
2272011 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Hannah Robinson
2271859 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2024 Leonie Hyde-Smith
2272084 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2019 30/11/2023 Jonathan Wilcox
2466166 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2025 Ayan Hujaleh
2438975 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Chimamaka Amala
2438967 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Georgia Hales
2439258 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Ruth Sylvester
2443527 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Bushra Hasan
2439037 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 31/05/2022 Alexander Rodger
2451240 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 31/07/2022 Lucy Whitley
2438953 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/04/2025 Katie Allen
2465438 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Hannah Brown
2465487 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Bartholomew Hill
2439179 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Jemma PHILLIPS
2634708 Studentship EP/S022066/1 27/09/2021 26/09/2025 Renjitha Haridasan
2634734 Studentship EP/S022066/1 27/09/2021 26/09/2025 Ratidzaishe Mupinga
2634513 Studentship EP/S022066/1 27/09/2021 26/09/2025 Claire Grisaffi
2634636 Studentship EP/S022066/1 27/09/2021 26/09/2025 Elizabeth Cullen
2611846 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Benjamin Pearson
2868063 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2026 Miles Folkes
2596624 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2027 Jamie Myers
2867937 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2026 Miles Folkes
2867118 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2026 Miles Folkes
2596559 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Virginia Roaf
2596642 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Lais Dos Santos
2611777 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Alpha Koroma
2596562 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Karl Jones
2748507 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Dirk Westensee
2764980 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Hannah Leigh
2764027 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Ali Jahanbakhshi
2744505 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Spurthi Kolipaka
2767430 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 24/01/2027 Nhyoumila Tuladhar
2746004 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Mary Wambugu
2764057 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Syeda Kadri
2750095 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Benedict Smeaton-Russell
2748603 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Eric Cowan
2888828 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 Joycelyn Bempong
2888662 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 Olivia Lochrie
2883399 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 James Wallace
2890962 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 Sifiso Dhlamini
2883388 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 Madison Wright
2883293 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 Vincent Moran
2883386 Studentship EP/S022066/1 01/10/2023 30/09/2027 Jack Dalton
2881975 Studentship EP/S022066/1 02/10/2023 24/09/2027 Amy TAYLOR
2881954 Studentship EP/S022066/1 02/10/2023 25/09/2027 Reuben DUNCAN
2881963 Studentship EP/S022066/1 02/10/2023 24/09/2027 Matthew KOUFIE-JACKSON
2881988 Studentship EP/S022066/1 02/10/2023 24/09/2027 James MANU