Areas of expertise

  • Environmental Policy
  • Monitoring and Environmental Informatics
  • Natural Capital
  • Water Science and Engineering


Dr Rivas Casado is recognised as a leading expert in the use of UAVs as a data acquisition platform to improve flood risk management in the UK and internationally. She is a Reader in Environmental Systems Engineering at Cranfield University. Her academic career has been built around the development of systems engineering solutions for the design of robust environmental monitoring strategies. Monica's research has been funded by EPSRC, NERC, BEIS, the Environment Agency and a vast range of industrial sponsors.

Monica has an MSc in Environmental Water Management and a PhD in applied geostatistics from Cranfield. She is a Chartered Engineer (CEng), Chartered Water and Environmental Manager (C.WEM), Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv), a Chartered Scientist (CSci), a Chartered Forestry Engineer, a Fellow member of CIWEM (FCIWEM) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She holds a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in teaching and learning and a National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) qualification. Monica is a fully qualified RPQs (drone) pilot.

Current activities

Monica is currently leading UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) and industry funded projects on systems engineering solutions for robust environmental monitoring. This includes the use of drones for marine ingress detection near coastal nuclear power plants (EPSRC/EDF Energy), the development of tools to better respond to climate disasters in Africa (EPSRC/Belmont), the combined use of drones and artificial intelligence to better identify the impacts of flooding to infrastructure (EPSRC/Atkins) and the use of drones to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment plants. She closely works with the insurance and re-insurance (Flood Re) sector on the development of data collection and management strategies for increased urban flood resilience. Further research activity includes underwater vehicles for coral reef habitat identification and ecosystem service quantification and their application for the recovery of the MV Wakashio oil spill in Mauritius (July 2020; EPSRC/Reef Conservation Mauritius).

Previously, she has led research activity on drones for flood and catastrophe extent mapping and damage assessment (NERC/EPSRC), autonomous on-water vehicles for robust hydromorphological characterisation (EPSRC) and floodplain forest restoration monitoring (EPSRC). She was the Cranfield lead for the Building Resilience Into Risk Management (BRIM) EPSRC Grand-Challenge network (2015-2019). She has successfully contributed and delivered UKRI research on ecosystem services science (EnergyScapes, NERC) and collaborated with a vast array of user organisations on: (i) the design of biodiversity monitoring programmes within Integrated Biodiversity Delivery Areas, (ii) the quantification of the effect of forest management practices on soil carbon sequestration and (iii) the assessment of land use dynamics in Europe, amongst others. Her work has been used as a reference for best practice guideline development and policy implementation.

During her 10 month secondment with Government (Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Government for Science, 2014-2015) she advanced knowledge on the opportunities that two of the Eight Great Technologies (Robotics & Autonomous Systems and Big Data) presented to four UK Government Departments (MoD, HO, DEFRA, DH) and one Government Agency (TSB-Innovate) over a period of 10 to 15 years. She directly informed the cross-Whitehall EmTech COI, comprising 29 government organisations and numerous external experts, as part of the HM Government Horizon Scanning Programme. she also informed Cabinet Office on the disruptive potential and benefits of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UAVs) and Big Data.


  • Flood Re
  • AtkinsRéalis
  • Scottish Water
  • Severn Trent PLC
  • Reef Conservation
  • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
  • Government Office for Science
  • Cabinet Office
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • Satellite Applications Catapault Ltd
  • Électricité de France SA
  • Environment Agency
  • The Douglas Bomford Trust
  • The Parks Trust
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Yorkshire Water
  • Natural England
  • Forestry Commission
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee
  • European Forest Institute
  • Institute for European Environmental Policy
  • Joint Research Centre (European Commission)
  • Sniffer
  • Food Standards Agency
  • RSK ADAS Ltd


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers