Dr Sarah Halliday

Reader in Environmental Sciences

Energy Environment and Society, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

Sarah Halliday
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Water is our most precious natural resource and critical to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I am a hydrologist, and my research interests lie in the field of environmental monitoring and modelling with a particular interest in the application of novel technologies and analysis approaches. My work focuses on understanding how our freshwater environments function and how they respond to different drivers of change (land-use, climatic) and pressures (pollution, abstraction). I am an associate member of the Dundee UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science.


My interdisciplinary research is interested in providing critical understanding about how our freshwater environments and their associated ecosystems, can be managed to deliver the many, and sometimes conflicting, ecosystem services and functions needed by society.

Pollution is a significant threat to our freshwater environments. My research is focused on understanding and quantifying pollution risk and impacts, considering known and emergent pollutants and how pollution can be prevented and mitigated. I am also interested to understand the vulnerabilities of the Scottish freshwater resources to hydrological extremes (droughts/floods) and how these events impact freshwater quality, ecosystem function, and service provision (drinking water/key industries). I am interested in topics such as drinking water security, and how this links to the One Health agenda. My historic research has also looked at the role of in situ high-frequency hydrochemical monitoring, in developing new understanding of catchment biogeochemical processing and the role of instream processes. I am also interested in how the new process understanding gained from this work, can be used to inform and improve the development and implementation of effective water quality legislation.

I am interested in collaborations and/or postgraduate projects relating, but not limited, to the following topics:

  •  Controls on freshwater quality
  • Role of legislation in addressing freshwater pollution
  • Emergent contaminants within the freshwater environment
  • Drinking water security
  • Influence of drought on freshwater ecosystems
  • Understanding climate driven land-use change impacts on freshwater ecosystems
  • Public communication on sustainable water use and water scarcity

Current postgraduate students:

  •  Sayali Pawar (PhD). HydroNation Scholar. Future-proofing Scotland’s water security: delivering safe and resilient water supplies
  • Emrah Acaroz (PhD). The significance of hydromorphological alteration to aquatic ecosystem function in lakes

Research Projects:

  •  2020 - 2021: GCRF project - Tackling water security-health connections in rural Malawi
  • 2020 - 2021: CREW project - Scoping the Development of a Model to Estimate Phosphorus (P) Loads to Water from Septic Tanks
  • 2017 - 2019: Scottish Government Funded - River Health Project, Ramganga, India
  • 2012 – 2016: NERC Macronutrients project Turf2Surf
  • 2014 – 2016: DEFRA Developing more effective models for managing water from the local to the national scale from a risk and pollution perspective (LM0308)
  • 2014: DEFRA Understanding the implications of climate change on the quality condition of water environment in the UK (WT1540)
  • 2010 – 2014: EU FP7 project REFRESH
  • 2009 – 2012: EPSRC Novel technologies for in situ environmental monitoring: linking sensor development to improved pollutant transport models
View full research profile and publications


Module Lead:

  • EV21001 - Management and Monitoring
  • EV22002 - Mechanisms and Measurements
  • GE32021 - Data Handling and Statistics

Module Contributor:

  • EV11001 - The Physical Environment
  • EV12002 - Environments for Life
  • GE22003 - Geography Field Course (UK)
  • GE31019 - Research Methods in Human Geography
  • GE31004 - Hydrology and Water Resources
  • GE41007 - Advance Hydrology and Water Resources
  • GE52024 - Applied GIS and Geospatial Data Analysis
  • GE52033 - Climate Change: Processes and Impacts

Environmental Science Tutor:

  •  Second Year

Media availability

I am available for media commentary on my research.

Contact Corporate Communications for media enquiries.

Areas of expertise

  • Clean water/sanitation
  • Climate change
  • Environment
  • Natural disasters
  • Water
  • Weather


Dr Kieran Baxter observes some technical equipment in front of an expansive landscape
View Global crisis, global impact


Ranked as the top university in the UK for climate action – and in the top five in the world – the University of Dundee was compelled to play its part in the landmark COP26 summit, contributing its expert insight and research to the two-week event.

Published on 5 August 2022