Our Vision‌

Protecting and improving surface and ground water resources.

Improving our understanding of human interaction with the water environment to underpin decision making in the area of water governance.

To become the preeminent knowledge hub in Scotland on the interface between people and water, in terms of both contributing to science and informing policy.

Our Aim  

To develop the evidence base to support healthy water resources, water resource protection and efficient water treatment.
Water resources play an essential part in human and environmental health, whilst being subjected to increasing anthropogenic demand, contamination and effects of climate change.

We focus on the protection and improvement of water resources and answer research questions of importance in supporting communities, policy and businesses to protect ecosystems and to increase circularity in our water economy.

Our strength lies in adopting multi- and trans disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches, drawing on technology, social science, chemistry and biology.

Our workstreams focus on:

  1. Behavioural and lifestyle interventions to develop awareness and protect watercourses.
  2. Understanding community and stakeholder perspectives on water management issues.
  3. Methods to improve water quality monitoring and analysis with chemical and biological techniques.
  4. Advanced techniques for fresh and waste water treatment, using physical, chemical and micro-biological approaches.
  5. Application of the above to emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceutical residues.


We aim to develop research capacity externally through national and international collaboration, and internally through close integration of research students and peer support in all Water Research Group activities.

The Water Research Group is co-ordinated by Dr Ania Escudero.

Key Projects

CREW: A Review of Small Sewage Systems: Guidance on Small Sewage Systems in Scotland and Approaches to these systems in other Countries, 2021.

CREW: How to effectively communicate flood risk and climate change projections in the context of flood risk. 2021.

Phos4You: PHOSphorus Recovery from waste water FOR YOUr Life, Interreg NWE, 2016-2021

CREW: Private water supplies: Are they inhibiting growth and flexibility of the rural economy, or impacting population distribution? 2018.

noPILLS: Pharmaceutical residues in the aquatic system, Interreg NWE, 2012-2015.

WEMSI: Water Environment Micropollutant Science Initiative, British Council Newton Fund, 2015-2017. A GCU UFABC Collaborative to Explore Emergent Pollutants in Brazilian Watercourses


Recent Publications

Aderemi, A. , Roberts, J. , Hunter, C. and Pahl, O. (2021) Microalgal Exposure to Human Antibiotics Triggers Similarities in Growth and Photosynthetic Responses. Journal of Environmental Protection, 12, 509-525. doi: 10.4236/jep.2021.128032.

Alenzi, A., Hunter, C., Spencer, J., Roberts, J., Craft, J., Pahl, O., Escudero, A., 2021. Pharmaceuticals effect and removal, at environmentally relevant concentrations, from sewage sludge during anaerobic digestion. Bioresour. Technol. 319, 124102. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2020.124102

Escudero, A., Hunter, C., Roberts, J., Helwig, K., Pahl, O., 2020. Pharmaceuticals removal and nutrient recovery from wastewaters by Chlamydomonas acidophila. Biochem. Eng. J. 156, 107517. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bej.2020.107517

Frascaroli, G., Reid, D., Hunter, C., Roberts, J., Helwig, K., Spencer, J., Escudero, A., 2021. Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater Treatment Plants: A Systematic Review on the Substances of Greatest Concern Responsible for the Development of Antimicrobial Resistance. Appl. Sci. . https://doi.org/10.3390/app11156670

Henderson, F., Steiner, A., Farmer, J., Whittam, G., 2020. Challenges of community engagement in a rural area: The impact of flood protection and policy. J. Rural Stud. 73, 225–233. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2019.11.004

Ikebe Otomo, J., Araujo de Jesus, T., Gomes Coelho, L.H., Rebelo Monteiro, L., Hunter, C., Helwig, K., Roberts, J., Pahl, O., 2021. Effect of eight common Brazilian drugs on Lemna minor and Salvinia auriculata growth. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 28, 43747–43762. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-13795-9

Kirste, K.G., McAulay, K., Bell, T.E., Stoian, D., Laassiri, S., Daisley, A., Hargreaves, J.S.J., Mathisen, K., Torrente-Murciano, L., 2021. COx-free hydrogen production from ammonia – mimicking the activity of Ru catalysts with unsupported Co-Re alloys. Appl. Catal. B Environ. 280, 119405. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apcatb.2020.119405

McAulay K, Thomson L, Porcar L, Schweins R, Mahmoudi N, Adams D J, Draper E R , 2020. Using Rheo-Small-Angle Neutron Scattering to Understand How Functionalised Dipeptides Form Gels. Organic Materials 2020; 02(02): 108-115 DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1708832

Procopio, Z.S.D., Roberts, J.B., Hunter, C., Pahl, O., 2021. Multifactorial Evaluation of Atenolol, Caffeine, Carbamazepine and Ibuprofen on Raphidocelis subcapitata and Chlorella vulgaris. Biol. . https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10090926

Group Members & Research Students


Dr Ania Escudero 

Dr Karin Helwig

Dr Colin Hunter

Professor JiaQian Jiang

Dr Anita Meldrum

Dr Moyra McNaughton

Prof Ole Pahl 

Kaitlin Ramsay

Dr Joanne Roberts

Dr Xinhua Shu

Dr Janice Spencer

Dr Paul Teedon

Research Students:

Julius Cesar Alejandre
Julze is a health promotion and policy specialist with interest in the intersection of human health and natural/built environments. He is a Scottish Governement Hydro Nation scholar investigating the adoption of blue-green prescribing in Scotland using behaviour change models and implementation science. 

Rahma Alharbi
Rahma’s study aims to investigate and identify cellulolytic bacteria found in agriculture waste in a state of anaerobic digestion in order to improve the degradability of wastes with a high cellulose content.

Gabriele Frascaroli
Gabriele is working on a green solution to reduce harmful antibiotics in wastewater by using microalgae. His project is focused on understanding the processes occurring in microalgae while potentially removing the most worrying antibiotics commonly found in wastewater.

Jamie Douglas Rupert Harrower
Jamie’s project investigates the chemical fate and behaviour of antibiotics in urban river environments using fugacity modelling approaches and utilising Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS) for monitoring purposes to assess spatial behaviour.

Williams Joshua
The general focus of William’s PhD project is to investigate the impact of climate change on water accessibility and quality in rural areas in Nigeria and to understand the coping mechanism used by rural people to adapt.

Deborah Reid
Deborah is a Medical Research Scotland microbiologist-Chemist-PhD student presently utilising phycoremediation to reduce concentrations of antibiotics and heavy metals in wastewater to subsequently control the dissemination of AMR genes in the aquatic environment.

Shaoquing Zhang
Shaoquing’s PhD project investigates the removal of micro pollutants with oxidation processing techniques including ferrates and other AOPs.


Sustainable Development Goals