Skip to navigation Skip to content


Water Research at the James Hutton Institute (Research Page)

The topic of water research involves staff from multiple disciplines at the James Hutton Institute who collaborate on Water Related research.  Their work, either as part of our research programme for the Scottish Government o ... Read more

Hutton water innovation up for VIBES Hydro Nation Scotland award (News)

A James Hutton Institute-led and Scottish Government-funded project to develop a novel decentralised wastewater treatment system in rural India that can be replicated in Scotland and beyond has been shortlisted for a VIBES – ... Read more

Funding boost for biodiversity restoration in the River Dee (News)

Two projects aimed at restoring biodiversity in the River Dee catchment will receive more than £350,000 from a new competitive national fund from Scottish Natural Heritage. The Aberdeenshire projects were selected alongside ... Read more

Awards for innovative CREW water research (News)

Two research projects conducted by Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) have been awarded prizes in recognition of excellence and innovation in water research. The project “Surface water flood forecasting f ... Read more

Traditional water management practices highlighted in new UN book (News)

Research by a social scientist based within the James Hutton Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS) has been featured in a book recently published by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a spec ... Read more

Fruit for the Future 2019 (Event)

Fruit for the Future is one of the James Hutton Institute’s most successful and long-running industry events and is aimed at farmers, agronomists, representatives of the food and drink industries, researchers and others inte ... Read more

Open Farm Sunday 2019 (Event)

Come and spend a fun family day at Mylnefield Farm! The Institute will be taking part in Open Farm Sunday 2019 on 9 June. ... Read more

BioSS analysis contributes to validate robustness of SEPA Fish Farm survey (News)

A detailed study of the impact of fish farm medicines on Scotland’s seabed, produced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS) - formally part of the James Hutton ... Read more

James Hutton Institute unveils Hydro Nation International Centre (News)

As part of Scotland’s continued efforts to become the world’s first Hydro Nation – one that manages its water environment to the best advantage and uses its expertise at home and internationally - the James Hutto ... Read more

Introduction to the Water Test Network (Event)

Our commercial subsidiary James Hutton Limited is hosting an event to promote participation in the Water Test Network (WTN), an Interreg North West Europe ERDF project, which aims to support and encourage small and medium enterpri ... Read more

Scottish specialists team up to unlock water industry innovation (News)

Water specialists from the James Hutton Institute and Scottish Water are at the forefront of the Water Test Network, an international drive to unlock innovation potential in the global water industry, which also involves experts i ... Read more

UnderStory - Storying woodland use, management and expansion in the Cairngorms (Project)

A digital story map will be created called the UnderStory and will provide an engaging, enduring account of perspectives on woodland use, management and expansion in the early 21st Century from the Cairngorms.It will be created ou ... Read more

Scotland-India research collaboration delivers clean water for primary schools (News)

Primary school students will benefit from wastewater treatment and clean water at their school in India thanks to a joint project led by the James Hutton Institute and funded by the Scottish Government. While visiting India, Sco ... Read more

Delineating critical zones of riparian processes and setting effective buffer areas using spatial data (Research Page)

Introduction The riparian zone occupies the critical interface between land and watercourses where processes have great potential to influence stream and river biogeochemical and ecological conditions and is a key management loc ... Read more

Hutton research reflected in Hydro Nation 2018 report (News)

Work by James Hutton Institute water researchers has been reflected in the latest Scotland: The Hydro Nation Annual Report, which provides an outline of activities carried out by the Scottish Government and partners under the Hydr ... Read more

Scottish rivers are warming, Hutton research shows (News)

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute have found that waters in Scottish rivers are reaching record-breaking warm temperatures, which may have implications for rural economies across the country. By comparing historical rec ... Read more

Indo-UK workshop on monitoring and analysis strategies for anthropogenic pollutants in environmental and waste waters (Event)

We are inviting Early Career Researchers from the UK and India to apply to attend this workshop. All economy flights and reasonable accommodation expenses will be covered. Application deadline for applications is Friday, 17th Au ... Read more

Hydro Nation scholar presents research at international water, food, energy and climate conference (News)

A Hydro Nation scholar carrying out research on common challenges across water, energy and food and their connections to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) presented her PhD research during a session on ... Read more

Partnership to develop run-off tool app (News)

The James Hutton Institute has partnered with Syngenta and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to develop and test a run-off tool app. The tool will advise land managers on the best management practices to reduce r ... Read more

Aberdeen and the Dee to benefit from more trees (News)

Popular green spaces in Aberdeen are set to become even greener with the planting of almost 5,000 trees, in an initiative co-ordinated and delivered by the River Dee Trust and the James Hutton Institute-supported Dee Catchment Par ... Read more

Natural Flood Management Network launched (News)

A new website aiming to become a sharing platform for policymakers, researchers, scientists and anyone interested in the use of landscape features to reduce flood risk has been launched today. ... Read more

Small scale combined wastewater polishing and biomass production: a case study (Project)

The overarching aim of this project was to establish a site to demonstrate the application of combined Willow short rotation coppice constructed wetland technology at a small scale within an existing rural wastewater treatment sys ... Read more

Forecasting coastal erosion and mapping the effects of climate change (News)

The damage that climate change could cause to nearly one-fifth of Scotland’s coastline, and the steps that could be taken to mitigate it, will be forecast in a new two-year research project funded by the Centre of Expertise ... Read more

Hutton expertise supporting Scotland-India links (News)

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute took part in the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation delegation in support of a visit by Scotland's Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, to India from the 4th to the 7th of D ... Read more

Space technology and Hutton expertise to provide clean water in Pakistan (News)

Technology used on early space missions is being revived by two Fife companies to provide clean water for 100,000 people in Pakistan, with help from the James Hutton Institute and National University of Science and Technology in I ... Read more

Hutton evidence review helps improve flood risk and coastal erosion management (News)

Researchers from the James Hutton Institute and partners have produced an evidence review on river and floodplain management, as part of an Evidence Directory recently launched by the Environment Agency. The Directory aims to prov ... Read more

Isotopic analysis capabilities boosted by new high-spec instrument (News)

The James Hutton Institute celebrated reinforcing its extensive analytical chemistry capabilities for research and commercial work with a launch evening and ribbon cutting for their new Thermal Ionisation Mass Spectrometer. The &p ... Read more

Monitoring and Evaluation for Ecosystem Management (MEEM) - Comparing theory and practice across Europe (Project)

Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) is an essential part of the process of adaptive management, the process of learning from our actions in order to update and improve future ecosystem management.  Across Europe we have a n ... Read more

WWT Drinking Water Quality Conference (Event)

The second WWT Drinking Water Quality Conference, presented in association with Northumbrian Water Group and supported by the James Hutton Institute, is an essential event for water quality professionals seeking innovative solutio ... Read more

RD 1.2.4 Effectiveness of water management (Project)

This project contains several strands of research that focus on how can enable and implement improvements in water management.  It draws on a mixture of disciplinary skills and expertises, particularly the social sciences.&nb ... Read more

RD 1.2.1 Water and its ecosystem functions (Project)

RD 1.2.1: Water and its ecosystem functions will address the questions: ... Read more

RD 1.2.3 Water environment, resilience and adaptation to change (Project)

RD 1.2.3: Water environment resilience and adaptation to change considers components of natural and managed water systems (and their interactions), their responses to multiple stressors, aspects of risk vs resilience and control m ... Read more

New online service to support management of water quality and ecosystems in the UK (News)

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute have been involved in a three-year community research project to deliver a new online service to help better manage the quality of water and ecosystems in the UK. The service, recently ... Read more

Work Package 1.2: Water (Project)

The work package combines evidence from catchment sites and experimental studies, catchment-scale modelling (assessing current water quantity and quality responses to pressures and predictions of future change), case studies of wa ... Read more

Banned pollutants found in deepest reaches of our oceans (News)

A research collaboration featuring scientists from the James Hutton Institute, Newcastle University and the University of Aberdeen has uncovered evidence that man-made pollutants have now reached the most remote habitats of our pl ... Read more

Behaviours in relation to rural diffuse pollution (Research Page)

Significant efforts and resources have been deployed to mitigate rural diffuse pollution through regulatory, guidance and voluntary measures. Despite these ongoing efforts, rural diffuse pollution remains a persisten problem. In S ... Read more

New report on river restoration and biodiversity launched (News)

A new report on river restoration and biodiversity, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and by Scotland's Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), describes the importance of rivers in the UK a ... Read more

Exploring how to integrate goals for water management (Project)

There have been decades of calls for more integration in water and catchment management.  Many academic and policy documents state that improving integration should aid us in improving water management, particularly to effici ... Read more

Flooding: time for a pro-active, joined-up approach (News)

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have backed calls for the implementation of a long-term strategy to tackle flood prevention. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have today published their “Flooding: C ... Read more

Water ecosystems reference book now available from UNESCO (News)

The potential of ecosystem services-based approaches for sustainable water resource management has been highlighted in a book co-edited by researchers from the University of Leeds, the James Hutton Institute, the James Cook Univer ... Read more

Hutton expert contributes to parliamentary discussion on water management (News)

The latest research on water suggests that global demand will increase by 55% by the 2050s and the world could suffer a 40% shortfall in 15 years unless dramatic changes are made in water use and managing water resources. However, ... Read more

Hydro Nation: Business Growth Agenda and Innovation Service (Event)

The Water Resources Act (Scotland) 2013 placed a requirement on Scottish Ministers to report to the Scottish Parliament on what steps they were taking to protect and grow Scotland’s ‘water assets’. These assets i ... Read more

Mining legacy springs hope for greener future (News)

An old coal mine in Lanarkshire could soon be springing back into life and once again provide heating for people’s homes thanks to geothermal power. A joint effort by North Lanarkshire Council and the James Hutton Institute ... Read more

Innovative Applications of Materials Chemistry in Water Treatment - Part 1: Removal of Contaminants from Drinking Water (Event)

This conference is the first in a planned series, the aim of which is to discuss current and possible future innovative applications of materials chemistry in water and wastewater treatment by bringing together problem holder ... Read more

Tay Estuary Forum 2016 Conference: Seascape, a coast of contrasts (Event)

As east-central Scotland's Local Coastal Partnership, the Tay Estuary Forum puts together a conference each year to reflect current issues within the coastal and marine environments at both a regional and national scale, ... Read more

UK-China science to policy dialogue on water security and resources (News)

Leading UK and Chinese environmental scientists are taking part in a Science to Policy Roundtable in Beijing this week to discuss issues surrounding water resources and governance for water security. ... Read more

Flood resilience best gained when solutions come together (News)

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have welcomed the announcement made by the Scottish Government of an action plan worth £235 million to protect 10,000 properties from flooding in Scotland. However, Dr Marc Stutter, r ... Read more

iDee: help us record the conditions of the River Dee (News)

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute are asking residents of communities in Aberdeenshire to contribute their records and photographs of the River Dee as part of the iDee project, to help measure parameters such as w ... Read more

New Hydro Nation International Fellows Programme launched in India (News)

As part of the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation International Programme, which promotes Scotland’s response to key global water challenges, The Scottish Government and The Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) have a ... Read more

Dinnet Constructed Wetland Open Day (Event)

The James Hutton Institute will host this one-day seminar on constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. The morning session will consist of a series of short talks on various aspects of constructed wetlands including overall e ... Read more

New reference book in water ecosystem services (News)

The potential of ecosystem services-based approaches for sustainable water resource management has been highlighted in a new book co-edited by researchers from the James Hutton Institute and UNESCO. The book is published by Cambri ... Read more

‘Waterman of India’ wins 2015 Stockholm Water Prize (News)

Rajendra Singh, the ‘Waterman of India’, has been named the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his innovative river restoration efforts, improving water security in rural India, and for showing extraordinary coura ... Read more

Sustainable Coasts: Balancing socio-economic drivers whilst preserving coastal amenity & habitat (Event)

As east-central Scotland's Local Coastal Partnership, the Tay Estuary Forum puts together a conference each year to reflect current issues within the coastal and marine environments at both a regional and national scale, ... Read more

Innovative forecasting trial could help flood risk communities (News)

CREW, Scotland's Centre of Expertise for Waters, has today (12 March 2015) published a report commissioned by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), on the successful delivery of an innovative pilot project to impr ... Read more

MAJI: More Action for Just Initiatives for Climate Change Adaptation in Southern Africa (Project)

The James Hutton Institute helps to support effective and equitable water management that will be sustainable in the long-term (and in the face of climate change), through its role in supporting a VSO-led project called “&qu ... Read more

Books and Book Chapters (Research Page)

Water Ecosystem Services - A Global Perspective ... Read more

Soils@Hutton - Soils and water security (Research Page)

Soil and water security ... Read more

Soils@Hutton - Soil and Climate Change (Research Page)

Learn more about soils & climate change ... Read more

Exploring barriers to natural flood management (Project)

This project aims to provide a better understanding of barriers to the adoption and implementation of natural flood management (NFM) in Scotland.  ... Read more

Review of the economics of sustainable land management measures in drinking water catchments (Project)

Project aim The aim of this project was to review the economics of sustainable land management measures in catchments where abstraction for the provision of drinking water takes place. Funding was provided by CREW (Scotland&rsqu ... Read more

Piloting a Water Restoration Park in Scotland (Project)

The aim of this project was to support Scottish Water pilot a restoration park to reclaim waste water and market it to non-household water users. Funding was provided by CREW (Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters) and t ... Read more

Developing a method to provide data on culverts for the Scottish Detailed River network initiative (Project)

The aim of this project was to assist in producing a Detailed River Network as required by the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. Funding was provided by CREW (Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters) and it ran fr ... Read more

Water, health and wellbeing (Blue Health) (Project)

Project aim This aim of this project was to aid consideration of thinking of policy and practice linked to well-being and water. Funding was provided by Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) and it ran from ... Read more

Improving implementation and increasing uptake of measures to improve water quality in Scotland (Research Page)

Guidance and advice for improving implementation and increasing uptake of measures to improve water quality in Scotland The Scotland River Basin Management Plan (2010) requires implementation of programmes of measures to support ... Read more

Information and Computational Sciences
Information and Computational Sciences
Senior Catchment Modeller
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


I am an integrative catchment scientist whose research (Google Scholar profile) is focussed on three nested areas (see Figure 1 below):

Current research interests

PhD student supervision


Bob Surminski (University of Abertay). Developing and testing geovisualisation approaches for understanding multiple-benefits from Scottish agricultural systems.


Sabine Peukert (University of Exeter). Impacts of farm-scale ecosystem management on water quality in intensively managed grasslands. NERC CASE.


Allan Puttock (University of Exeter). Developing an understanding of vegetation change and carbon budgets in semi-arid environments.

Current research projects


NUTCAT2050 Hydrology-phosphorus interactions under changing climate and land use overcoming uncertainties and challenges for prediction to 2050

2013-2016 NERC NE/K002392/1. The systems evidence based assessment methodology (SEBAM) that I recently developed and published forms the basis of this project.

wikiRivers- exploiting digital technologies for the effective communication of river water levels

2011-2014 RCUK Digital Economy, DR-PP-RVD. My role in this project is to provide hydrological expertise and to develop an integrative approach that links the natural, social and computer science components for working with stakeholders.

Valuing Nature Network, BRIDGE: From values to decisions

2012 NERC. In addition to be invited to the interdisciplinary VNN workshop. I was involved in the BRIDGE project.  At the start up workshop, I gave an invited overview on ‘Including natural science valuation evidence in decision-making’ and led the natural science break out group. 

Environmental Virtual Observatory (pilot): National scale work package

2010-2013 NERC NE/1002200/1.  Following successful participation at the NERC sandpit, I am working with colleagues at University of Bristol (Freer), University of Reading (Johnes), Durham University (Reaney) and BGS (Bloomfield) to demonstrate the potential of the environmental virtual observatory for national scale modelling of hydrology and associated biogeochemistry. I am also leading demonstration and evaluation of cloud cyber-infrastructure in the Dyfi catchemnt.


WaterCAP: Clustering the results from water and climate related projects (Water, Cluster, Adapt, Promote)

2011-2013 Interreg IVB.  My role was to design a structure to analyse projects and structure workshops based on integrating DPSIR and final ecosystem services in relation to climate change, water quantity and water quality. 

SEPA/ Scottish Government

Water and Renewable Energy Theme: Multiple benefits of water quality and quantity

2011- Scottish Government.  I lead on taking an ecosystem services approach to understand the multiple benefits of the James Hutton Institute catchment science from the plant to catchment scales.

DICE: Developing an interdisciplinary culture of excellence

2012-2014 Scottish Government/James Hutton Institute.  I initiated and lead this mixed methods social science inquiry into how Institute staff are carrying out interdisciplinary research and what are the barriers to greater levels of interdisciplinary working.

Scotland Rural Development Programme 2014-20- assessing potential water and soil quality options, their evidence base and potential to deliver multiple benefits research

2013-2013 SEPA/CREW.  I lead this project.  This involves working with a broad range of experts to elicit their opinion on the ability of these measures to deliver multiple benefits.

Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW)

2011- Scottish Government.  As part of the core CREW team I have helped apply for and establish this important science-policy boundary spanning initiative.

Past research


SuperGRaSS: Selecting genes for function

2006-2009 BBSRC BB/D011612/1. I initiated and led the writing of this BBSRC responsive mode award. The key to SuperGRaSS was the bringing together of plant scientists, soil scientists and hydrologists to improve our systems understanding of how novel multifunctional grasses can be used to reduce the risk of flooding. 

Achieving Sustainable Catchment Management: Developing integrated approaches and tools to inform future policies

2004-2005 RELU RES-224-25-0081. I was leader of WP7 Achieving Sustainable Catchment Management: spatial data and spatial technologies- progress and scope in developing integrated approaches and tools to inform future policies.

SEPA/ Scottish Government

Applying an ecosystem services approach to the production of the second River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) – identifying indicators of key ecosystem services and pressures

2011-2012 SEPA/CREW. I led this project. This involved working with stakeholders and researchers through one to one sessions and facilitated workshops. I have developed structured facilitation methods based on a conceptual model linking an ecosystem service approach and WFD objectives.   


GRaSP Grassland Mobilisation of Sediment and Phosphorus

2006-2009 Defra PE0120. I led integrative activities, involving linking experimental work with the modelling for a more ‘systems’ based approach. 

Diffuse Pollution User Manual

2006-2008 Defra ES0203. I helped produced the phosphorus component of a desk based expert assessment to assess the current level of scientific understanding on the effectiveness of a wide range of mitigation measures for phosphorus, nitrogen, faecal indictor organisms and sediment for several model farm systems in the UK.

Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Environmental and Biochemical Sciences
Senior Research Scientist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Current research interests

Rachel is currently working with the Water Industry Team at the Scottish Government to develop the Hydro Nation International programme, an initiative geared towards the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030). She is responsible for projects in India and Malawi and currently coordinates a decentralised waste water treatment project, designed with a local community for a rural school in India.

Rachel is particularly interested in co-designing her research with stakeholder groups to ensure it is relevant, fit for purpose and the translation of scientific information is effectively communicated to regulators, policy makers, industry and the general public. She is currently focusing on the development of new initiatives to build capacity in her area of work and ensure a sustainable legacy of projects beyond the period of funding.

As part of her commitment to the Scottish Government's Strategic Research Programme, Rachel is leading a project on river temperatures in Scotland. The research has shown evidence that Scottish rivers are warming. Increases can be attributed to rising air temperatures in spring, less snow accumulation during winter, and earlier snow melt. A factsheet has been disseminated amongst estate managers, policy makers and regulators, to highlight the root of the problem and demonstrate management options to enhance the resilience of rivers to change. A number of positive actions to keep rivers cools are recommended.

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Qualitatitve Social Scientist
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Current research interests

My research focuses on governance, particularly public and stakeholder participation in environmental policy making and implementation. I have an associated interest in the use of 'tools' as deliberative boundary objects in decision making and evaluation processes. I generally favour mixed qualitative methods such as interviews, focus groups and participant observation. Threading through my research is an interest in reconciling critical approaches to policy making and implementation with constructive engagement in knowledge exchange with policy actors. This reflects my interest in ‘studying up’ – using the politics and practices of participatory research to work with people in positions of power and authority.  Currently, I am considering how systemic approaches co-exist with, conflict with or shape existing policies shaping Scottish land and water management, and moving into the study of reconciling living within planetary boundaries with social, environmental and geographical justice.


Ongoing projects

  • I am part of the Hutton team contributing to the H2020 project “Moving Towards Adaptive Governance in Complexity: Informing Nexus Security” (MAGIC - see also here) led by Mario Giampietro at Autonomous University of Barcelona (2016-2020).  My focus is to work on the 'semantic' phase of the quantitative story telling cycle - elicting and analysing narratives about the Common Agricultural Policy and its interaction with the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Climate Change and Sustainable Develoment Goals; and discussing with EU stakeholders whether the outcomes of the social metabolism accounting are feasible, viable and/or desirable.
  • I coordinated the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme WP1.4 on “Integrated and Sustainable Management of Natural Assets“ from April 2016 to April 2018. I contribute to several aspects of the research, including supporting our consideration of how adaptive management is practiced in Scotland (WP1.4.3) and participating in the Scottish Forum for Natural Capital's working group on Future Land Manager Business Models. My substantive contributions are focussed on how policy implementation can better support the delivery of multiple benefits and protect our natural assets. The focus is on the coordination or integration of policy instruments and the role of monitoring in developing a more systemic approach to management.
  • I work closely with two Macaulay Development Trust Fellows - Jessica Maxwell with reference to linking planning to ecosystem services; and Paola Ovando-Pol with reference to Natural Capital. I also supervise a Macaulay Development Trust funded PhD studentship on Natural Capital Accounting: Distribution of Benefits. Oliver Zwiner is co-supervised by myself and Julia Martin-Ortega (University of Leeds).
  • Past Projects

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Principal Researcher in Catchment Management & Water Quality
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Andy Vinten is a principal catchment scientist, with over 20 years background in applied research in soil and water management. After graduating from Oxford University with a BA in Agricultural and Forest sciences, and a PhD in soil science, he worked on irrigation and water quality issues in the Volcani Center Israel for four years. Thereafter he was a lecturer and senior lecturer on soil science at Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh, and managed a Masters Course in Environmental Protection and Management  for 10 years. He joined the Institute in 2005. 

Current research interests

Andy has worked on modelling and measurement of the transport of pollutants (nitrates, phosphates, micro-organisms, pesticides etc.), for many years and contributed to the growing appreciation of the role that agricultural activities play in contributing to bathing water pollution issues in SW Scotland. 

Recent work includes assessment of cost effectiveness and proportionality of diffuse pollutant mitigation measures. This has shown support for SEPA’s targets for restoration of standing waters to Good Ecological Status, but demonstrates that for many lochs where mitigation is likely to be costly, costs can exceed society’s willingness to pay.

He has also sought to identify the responses of stream benthic microbial communities to aquatic pollution using molecular methods, and carried out modelling on the risk of microbial pollution from livestock influencing human health through bathing water and drinking water pollution; A recent interest is in the development of a new technique, filter fences, for erosion control in the aftermath of potatoes.

On-going and recent projects

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social Researcher
+44 (0)1224 395313

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


Current research interests

Kerry's main ongoing research projects

Her research is motivated by the following research questions:

  • When might it make sense to adopt new concepts and instruments for environmental management? How can we best understand the challenges and consequences of implementing such new concepts, especially those (such as the 'Ecosystem Approach') that encourage a systemic approach to connect multiple issues?
  • How are different knowledges produced and used in collaboration and decision-making for environmental management? If and how do concepts (such as ecosystem services) or tools (such as scenario-planning) influence processes of knowledge co-production, including in science-policy interfaces?
  • How can we better enable stakeholder participation in environmental management, including Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) ?  What are the social and environmental consequences of doing so?

Kerry's current work predominantly uses qualitative research methods, e.g. collecting data from semi-structured interviews, workshops, participant observation, analysed using both inductive and deductive approaches.  She also has expertise in quantitative methods e.g. design, deployment and quantiative analysis of paper and online surveys for primary data collection, design and deplyment of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to analyse secondary data. To communicate and discuss research she uses varied methods, from short written briefings, longer reports and academic papers, through to videos, oral presentations and blog posts. She also has an established track record in project management, line management, student supervision, data management and research ethics.

Kerry currently co-supervises 1 PhD student: Kirsty Holstead, who is building understanding of community water governance, funded by a Hydronation scholarship, with Dr Shona Russell at the University of St Andrews. She previously co-supervised Sam Poskitt, who is exploring the potential of scenario-planning to support learning for sustainable development, joint funded by ESRC and the James Hutton Institute, with Dr Andrew Ainslie at the University of Reading. Sam obtained his PhD in March 2018 and now works at the University of Reading on the participatory extension work in developing countries.

Kerry is a trustee of the Orskov Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports students and communities to develop sustainable land use to support livelihoods in lower-income countries. She is also a research associate of CECHR, the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at Dundee.   Within the Institute, Kerry has led the 'Society Institutions and Governance' sub-group of SEGS, and she also founded the SEGS blog.

Past research

She jointly led research with Kirsty Blackstock to understand the potential and challanges of implementing the Ecosystem Approach, funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016. Click here to visit the webpage of the Ecosystem Approach Review. This and several other projects have explored multi-level constraints on adopting more systemic and/or participatory approaches to environmental management, including: exploration of the barriers to implementing natural flood management in Scotland; analysing the first round of River Basin Management Planning for implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Scotland; and appraising the factors that can act as barriers to improving water quality.

She has explored the potential of scenario-planning to support natural resource management: she first explored scenarios of future change environmental, social and policy change for FP7-project REFRESH, then for COMET-LA (an EU FP7 project on Community-based Management of Environmental Challenges in Latin America) she explored if and how scenario-planning can assist communities to identify and develop sustainable community-based management. From 2012-16 Kerry used this knowledge to support Malawian villages and district-level planning for integrated natural resource management in two projects called "Water Futures: Towards Equitable Resource Strategies" aimed to improve the resilience of Malawi'sn water management, whilst successor project 'MAJI' focused on how to take account of climate change.

Kerry also has expertise on knowledge co-production processes relating to environmental management: she co-led WP2 for the FP7 project ‘SPIRAL’ (Science Policy Interfaces for Research Action and Learning, for biodiversity). She has used this expertise to help support practical science-policy connections in later projects such as MAGIC. For example, she helped designed the ESPPI:CREW project to evaluate science-policy and practice links for the Scottish Centre of Expertise in Waters and was involved in CATCH II, an initiative which aimed to try to better connect policy, practitioners working in and for integrated catchment management.

Prior to working at the James Hutton Institute Kerry's PhD research, carried out at Imperial College London 2006-2009, examined how combinations of individual views, culture and local institutions could influence the outcomes of community-based conservation in developing countries. In addition to policy-relevant work with NGOs, her prior experience included social research into attitudes towards nature resources in Trinidad, as part of an MSc from Imperial College. Her first degree is a MA in Natural Sciences, from Cambridge University.

Printed from /category/tags/water on 25/08/19 07:44:03 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.