Contact Dr Heather Smith

Areas of expertise


Heather holds a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Science from the University of Alberta (Canada). After completing her degree, she worked as a researcher for a Canadian NGO, where she was involved in a multi-stakeholder process for developing and implementing watershed (catchment) planning in Ontario.

She then obtained her MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management from the University of Oxford, for which she studied how a growing understanding of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) could help remote mountain communities in Nepal reduce their vulnerability to these catastrophic events.

Heather completed her PhD at the University of Aberdeen, where her research focused on the Scottish land use planning system, and on developing recommendations to improve its emerging relationship with river basin management planning, as required under the European Water Framework Directive. She joined Cranfield University in August 2011.

Current activities

Dr. Smith’s research focuses on the governance of the water sector, and the intersections between technological innovation, policy, and social drivers around water services. In general terms she seeks to understand if and how water services can be made more resilient. This centres on the role of water service providers (private or public) and understanding how they relate to their political, social, economic and environmental contexts.

Specific research interests include understanding:

  • The role of customers in shaping the plans and priorities of the UK water sector;
  • User perceptions of, and reactions to, emerging water technologies (such as water reuse); and
  • How governance frameworks can support and/or hinder emerging water technologies.


  • FP7, Horizon 2020
  • Thames Water
  • Scottish Water
  • Ofwat
  • WRF
  • Yorkshire Water


Articles In Journals