Professor Richard Williams
- Professor of River Science (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
My research interests lie in the fields of fluvial geomorphology, remote sensing, flood risk management, geospatial science and numerical modelling. Specifically, I am interested in the dynamism of river systems at the reach spatial scale and event-to-decadal timescale. My research focuses upon enhancing and applying novel geospatial and remote sensing methods to gain insight into river morphodynamics. Such data also provide innovative parameterisations for hydro- and morpho-dynamic numerical models, and spatially-temporally explicit metrics for model assessment. My research supports fundamental insights into the controls on river planform and provides evidence for scientifically informed management of flood conveyance, and in-stream and riparian habitat.
Particular research themes include:
1. Tropical river morphodynamics;
2. Monitoring the morphology, flow dynamics, sediment transport and ecology of river restoration schemes;
3. Alluvial fan morphology and sedimentology;
4. Numerical modelling of flood risk, particularly in geomorphologically dynamic settings and in the context of evaluating natural flood risk management and climate change impacts;
5. Assessing capacity building training in development settings;
6. Environmental impacts of mining on river systems.
Recent field campaigns have involved the deployment of a range of Earth observation platforms and sensors. These have included RTK-GPS, terrestrial laser scanning, mobile laser scanning, acoustic Doppler current profilers, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to acquire imagery for Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry. Our research cluster is actively using Google Earth Engine to quantify fluvial morphodynamics at national scales.
At present, our research cluster has strong interests in the dynamics of tropical rivers systems, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia (see grants, below).
Richard has an undergraduate degree in Geography, from the University of Cambridge, and a masters degree, in Science of the Environment, from Lancaster University. After his masters, Richard worked for four years at JBA Consulting, an environmental consultancy, where he undertook research and applied projects for the UK Government, private developers, and the insurance and reinsurance industries. This industrial experience ensures that Richard’s research and teaching meets the needs of stakeholders. Richard moved to Aberystwyth University in 2009 to work as a Research Assistant on the NERC funded ReesScan Project. At this time he also commenced his doctoral work on modelling braided river dynamics. Richard was appointed to a lectureship at Aberystwyth University in 2013. He moved to a lectureship at the University of Glasgow in 2015 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019.
NERC. £216k. Sounding out the river: a new system for monitoring bedload mobilisation and transport. Co-I.
NERC. £40k. Sediment cascades: integrating hazards & mitigation strategies. Philippines hydrometeorological hazards integration project. PI.
SFC GCRF. £37k. Training in nature based river management solutions: learning, practicing and evaluatings. 2019-20. PI with Laurie.
NERC-PCIEERD. £639k. 2018-2021. Catchment susceptibility to hydrometeorological events: sediment flux & geomorphic change as drivers of flood risk in the Philippines. PI with Hoey.
Carnegie Trust. £10k. Braided river geomorphic unit assemblage: synthesising global datasets. 2018-2020. PI.
NERC CASE Studentship. £94,292. Assessing the geomorphological effectiveness of river restoration using multi-stage channels (with partner SEPA). 2018-2022. PI with Hoey.
SFC GCRF. £32,830. River channel change in the Philippines. 2017-8. PI with Hoey and Barrett.
SFC GCRF. £46,776. Visualising Violence in Malawi. 2017-8. Co-I with Dixon.
NERC Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme (ERIIIP), ODA Fund £28,291. River instability and infrastructure in Indonesia and the Philippines. 2017. PI with Hoey.
CREW. £214k. National Coastal Change Assessment 2: Enhancing the evidence base and our ability to adapt. 2017-2019. Co-I with Hansom.
SAGES+. £2,599. Postdoctor and Early Career Researcher Exchange – Development of a Geomorphic Unit Toolbox, vist to Utah State University. July – September 2017. PI.
University of Glasgow MSc(Res) studentship: £20,000. Braided river morphodynamics. 2017-8. PI.
Natural Environment Research Council Geophysical Equipment Facility: £3,000 (commercial equivalent). Verification of wearable laser scanning systems for fluvial topographic surveys. May 2017-June 2017.
Natural Environment Research Council: Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme - additional funding: £28,291. Identification of the scale of risk to infrastructure due to instabilities in river morphology in Indonesia and the Philippines. March 2017.
University of Glasgow Angus Mitchell MSc(Res) studentship: £20,000. Rainfall-to-reach, real-time modelling of braided river morphodynamics. September 2017-August 2018.
Natural Environment Research Council: Environmental Risks to Infrastructure Innovation Programme: £89,707. Decision support framework to incorporate river bank stability in pipeline crossing risk assessment. January 2017 - December2017.
Natural Environment Research Council Geophysical Equipment Facility: £2,800 (commercial equivalent). Multi-scale landslide susceptibility assessment. Oct 2016 – Nov 2017.
University of Glasgow, Energy Fund: £6,500. Assessing the impact of small high head ‘run-of-river’ hydropower on river geomorphology and habitat. August 2016 – August 2019.
Natural Environment Research Council: £51,967. Quantifying the Delivery & Dispersal of Landslide-Derived Sediment to the Dart River, New Zealand. April 2014 - July 2015.
British Society for Geomorphology Early Career Researcher Grant: £3,500. Quantifying sedimentological, geomorphic and habitat adjustment following river restoration. October 2014 – October 2015.
Discretionary Research Fund, Department for Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University: £1,200. Alluvial Fans Conference, Christchurch.
Royal Geographical Society 30th International Geographical Congress Award: £750. Funding to attend Gravel Bed River Conference, Japan. September 2015.
British Society for Geomorphology, Full Member Research Project: £940. Reconstructing the Kea Point glacier lake outburst flood, Southern Alps, New Zealand. 16 April – 30 September 2014. Co-Investigator with Dr T. Irvine-Fynn (PI; Aberystwyth) and Dr R. Carr (Co-I; Newcastle).
Discretionary Research Fund, Department for Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University: £425. British Society for Geomorphology Annual Conference 2013.
Discretionary Research Fund, Department for Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University: £250. 8th International Association of Geomorphologists Conference on Geomorphology.
Research grants with industry partners
Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment: £27,084. Engineering river freedom for resilience, with CBEC. September 2016 - August 2017.
Strategic Insight Programme (SIP): £2,500. Placement with Prof Rob Lamb (JBA Trust): Two-dimensional flow modelling to analyse river bar reworking. November 2014 – February 2015.
MPhil Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship: £20,000. Development of low-cost approaches to monitor river restoration schemes. September 2014 – September 2015. PI with Dr K. Young (Aberystwyth) and P. Jones (WaterCo, Mold).
MSc Access to Masters Scholarship: £10,000. Flood monitoring using low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles. PI with Dr P. Brewer (Aberystwyth) and P. Jones (WaterCo, Mold).
Learning and Teaching Development Fund, University of Glasgow: £2,644. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in fieldwork teaching and learning. August 2016 - July 2017.
Climate Change Consortium for Wales: £18,423. “Little River”: simulating climate change impacts on flooding, sediment transport and river channel change. December 2014. PI with Prof S. Tooth (Co-I, Aberystwyth).
Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, Aberystwyth University: £1,900. Is the sky the limit?: Increasing student engagement and learning through novel aerial monitoring of natural riverine landscapes. PI. July 2014 – June 2015. PI with Prof S. Tooth (Co-I, Aberystwyth).
Current research associates
Dr Rich Boothroyd
Dr Doug Mitchell
Current PhD candidates
Eilidh Stott: primary supervisor
Qing Li: primary supervisor
Mirijami Henni Lantto: second supervisor
Chris Masafu: second supervisor
Danjuma Joro Kwetishe: second supervisor
Octria Prasojo: second supervisor
Peng Gu: second supervisor
Niantang Liu: second supervisor
Completed postgraduate research students
2020 Ben Martin: MSc (Res) "Predictive fluvial facies models: Huesca distributive fluvial system, Spain" (Glasgow, second supervisor)
2019 Dr Charlie Gilles (Glasgow, second supervisor)
2019 Eilidh Stott: MSc(Res) (Glasgow, primary supervisor)
2018 Dr Da Liu "Assessing the role of riverbank vegetation on stream hydrodynamics with implications for the transfer of solids" (Glasgow, second supervisor)
2015 John Hart MPhil (Aberystwyth, primary supervisor)
Former research associates
Dr Lizzie Dingle
Dr Crystal Smiley
Dr George Maniatis
- Li, Qing
Geographic Object Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) with Machine Learning to classify channel pattern in tropical rivers
- Liu, Niantang
A Deep Convolutional Neural Network-based framework for Crop Classification on High-Resolution Radar & Multispectral Imagery
- Masafu, Christopher Kusimba
A novel approach for flood hazard mapping
- Suprayogi, Andri
Temporal monitoring and modeling of tropical flood dynamics using SAR and deep learning
- Tolentino, Pamela Louise
Influence of catchment characteristics on hydrologic regimes
I direct our MSc in Sustainable Water Environments.
Courses that I convene and teach:
GEOG4057 Managing River Catchments
GEOG4111 GIS A: Applied spatial analysis
GEOG4112 GIS B: Theory & pracitce
GEOG5117 Modelling Water Environments
GEOG5025 Topographic mapping and landscape monitoring
GEOG5021 Research and professional issues in geomatics
GEOG5051 Sustainable water environments MSc Project
Course that I contribute to:
GEOG5114 Monitoring water environments
GEOG3010 Geography research skills: geomatics practicals
GEOG4052P Geography dissertation: supervision
GEOG5040P Geomatics MSc Project: supervision
Professional activities & recognition
Professional & learned societies
- 2017 - 2020: Secretary, Research Committee, British Society for Geomorphology