Professor Anne Robertson awarded major grant from the Leverhulme Trust to study human interaction with freshwater ecosystems

Professor Anne Robertson, from the University of Roehampton, London’s School of Life and Health Sciences and Dr Robert Grabowski from the Centre for Water, Environment and Development at Cranfield University, have been awarded a prestigious grant of over £2 million by the Leverhulme Trust under its doctoral scholarship programme to study the interactions between humans and freshwater ecosystems

The Leverhulme Trust’s grant will support the Connected Waters Leverhulme Doctoral Programme (CONNECT), a collaborative effort between The University of Roehampton, London and Cranfield University, funding master’s and PhD studentships to develop a deeper, holistic view of the interaction of human agency and freshwater ecosystems.

The CONNECT programme aims to foster a new generation of scholars equipped to tackle the challenges facing freshwater ecosystems. It seeks to unravel the intricate connections between freshwater environments and human society through a comprehensive interdisciplinary lens.

Professor Anne Robertson said: 'Freshwater ecosystems play a pivotal role in our ecological and social landscapes, acting as vital connectors that support biodiversity and ecological productivity. However, these face unprecedented challenges due to human actions and unintended consequences, potentially pushing them beyond ecological thresholds.'

'Our goal is to advance the academic understanding of human-environment connections. By doing so, we aim to contribute to and counteract the collapse of freshwater ecosystems. We are committed to developing sustainable and effective solutions to pressing environmental challenges, ensuring they benefit both people and nature.'

Dr Robert Grabowski said: 'I am excited to be co-leading the Connected Waters Leverhulme Doctoral Programme with Professor Anne Robertson at the University of Roehampton, London. Freshwater ecosystems are in decline worldwide. Urgent and collaborative action is needed to reverse this trend. Through innovative, multidisciplinary approaches, our PhD researchers will explore the interactions between humans and freshwater ecosystems that affect how we value, manage, and restore them.'

Professor Ted Vallance, Director of Research and Doctoral Study at The University of Roehampton said: ‘Roehampton is very proud to be collaborating on this vital research partnership. The CONNECT programme will not only make a major contribution to our understanding of urgent environmental issues but will also help foster a more inclusive research community through providing dedicated funding opportunities for students from under-represented backgrounds.’

Professor Leon A. Terry, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Cranfield University said: “It has never been more vital to explore connections between people and our natural environments, to help address the climate change challenges we all face. As a leader in sustainable innovation, this project aligns with Cranfield University’s continued commitment to developing high-impact research that will have a positive effect on our society and our world.’

For more information about the project and how to apply for a scholarship, click here.