Contact Dr Alison Parker

Areas of expertise

  • Carbon, Climate and Risk
  • Environment and Health
  • Water Science and Engineering


Dr Parker completed a four year Masters degree at the University of Oxford in Earth Sciences.This was followed by a PhD at the University of Leeds studying the hydrogeology of the chalk aquifer of East Yorkshire. Dr Parker  started as a Research Fellow at Cranfield University in January 2009 and was progressed to Senior Lecturer by October 2019.

Research opportunities

Managed aquifer recharge in drylands

Many rural communities in semi-arid areas experience highly seasonal rainfall which is mostly lost as run-off. As the dry season progresses their water sources dry up and they have to travel further to collect water which often has poor water quality.   By retaining water and encouraging aquifer recharge, water sources can remain sustainable throughout the dry season. Structures are being built by both local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The use and variety of these structures is growing as organisations seek to respond to increasingly irregular rainfall, and regulators are becoming increasingly worried about the impact on water quality. For example in some states in India it is a requirement to install managed aquifer recharge structures on any new building, but these are being implemented without any proper understanding of their impacts on water resources and groundwater contamination. I research different structures all over the world, I can share knowledge between different stakeholders globally.

The circular economy for sanitation

Providing universal access to sanitation is still a major challenge.   The circular economy model uses the nutrient or energy value of waste and is being implemented as a way of shifting the paradigm of waste management to resource production. The circular economy focuses on the whole sanitation chain which includes the provision of toilets, the collection of waste, treatment and transformation into sanitation-derived products. As well as potentially reducing the cost of toilet provision, it also has the potential to enable positive environmental and health impacts, unlike other systems where waste may be discharged untreated into the environment, as wastewater treatment plants are overloaded or faecal sludge is dumped directly into watercourses The implementation of a system level transformation is not simple, considering operator capacity, lack of funding, slowly growing acceptance by local communities, and a policy landscape which can be inconsistent in its support for the circular economy.  There is a growing cohort of NGOs and entrepreneurs who are keen to implement circular economy for sanitation models, and I am keen to support their operations through research.    

Current activities

- PI on NERC grant: Impact of Rainwater harvesting on groundwater quality in India with specific reference to fluoride and micropollutants, studying a fieldsite in Rajasthan, collaborating with NIH, IIT Ropar and IIT Jodphur
- PI on ERSC grant: Scaling Up Off-grid Sanitation, focussing on Contained Based Sanitation in Peru, Haiti, Kenya and South Africa
- PI on Royal Society grant: Enabling the Circular Economy for Sanitation, collaborating with Meru University of Science and Technology (Kenya) and the University of Malawi.
- Co-Director and Partnerships Manager in the EPSRC Water WISER CDT
- CoI on ERSC grant: Rural to Urban Sanitation Transformations, collaborating with the University of Hyderabad
- CoI on ESRC grant: Water security and the Emotional response of Ethiopian Pastoralists (WEEP), collaborating with IRC Ethiopia and IWMI
- Course Director for the MSc in Water and Sanitation for Development
- Associate Editor at Frontiers in Water


  • ESRC
  • NERC
  • Royal Society
  • Oxfam
  • Excellent Development
  • People in Need
  • Bill & Melinda gates Foundation


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers

  • Adams RJ, Barrington D, Collins M, Hutchings P, Ihasz O, Kolios A, McAdam E, Moreno M, Parker A, Tyrrel S, Vyakarnam, S & Williams L. (2018) A scoping review of business model configurations for diffusing high-tech innovations at the bottom of the pyramid. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Annual Conference 2018, University of the West of England, 4-6 September 2018.
  • Anastasopoulou A, Kolios A, Somorin T, Sowale A, Jiang Y, Fidalgo B, Parker A, Williams L, Collins M, McAdam EJ & Tyrrel S (2018) Probabilistic life cycle assessment of the nano membrane toilet. In: ICWERS 2018: 20th International Conference on Waste-to-Energy Technologies and Sustainability, Rome, 5-6 March 2018.