Contact Dr Robert Grabowski

Areas of expertise


Dr Robert (Bob) Grabowski is an interdisciplinary scientist specialising in the interactions between physical processes, ecological communities and humans within river-floodplain systems. He joined Cranfield as Lecturer in Catchment Science in 2014. In his previous post, he was a Research Fellow on the EU-funded project REFORM (Restoring rivers FOR effective catchment Management), where he helped develop an open-ended, pan-European framework to assess and monitor river hydromorphology in line with the Water Framework Directive. The REFORM website and wiki are an excellent resource of information on river restoration, hydromorphological assessment, and the ecological effectiveness of restoration (;

Bob’s background lies in quantitative aquatic ecology. He received a BSc in Biology (Illinois Wesleyan University) and an MSc in Marine Biology (University of Maine – Orono). His interest in biological-physical interactions, particularly for organisms living within and on the sediment bed), led him to fluvial geomorphology and a PhD investigating fine sediment transport processes in vegetated chalk streams (Queen Mary, University of London).

Current activities

Bob leads a variety of pure and applied research projects in fluvial geomorphology, aquatic ecology, and integrated land and water management. His expertise lies in fine sediment transport, for which he uses a broad range of tools and approaches to quantify erosion from land surfaces, transport fluxes and dynamics through river networks, and ecological impacts in rivers and floodplains, including remote sensing data, field surveys and monitoring, laboratory experiments, and hydrological and hydraulic modelling. Bob is primary investigator on a current NERC Towards a Sustainable Earth project, entitled ‘Social, economic and environmental trade-offs in managing the land-river-interface’, investigating how land and river management can be harnessed to achieved sustainable development goals. His research students are working on a range of topics in fluvial geomorphology, aquatic ecology and catchment science. Details of current and recent projects can be found in the research pages (links to the right).

Bob is on the editorial board of River Research and Applications. He is the course director for the Environmental Water Management MSc, a long-standing course known for its excellent ties to the water industry, consultancy, and environmental management.

Current research students

  • Cameron Ray - Improved characterisation of bed sediment in shallow water environments using wide swatch, interferometric bathymetric sonar (PhD, EPSRC DTP &ITER Systems, 2017-2020)
  • Selena Zang - Hydrological and contaminant transport modelling of permeable paving sustainable urban drainage systems (PhD, 2017-2020)
  • Emily Dowdeswell - Feedback mechanisms on soil susceptibility to erosion processes in a changing climate (PhD, STARS CDT, NERC/BBSRC, 2016-2020)
  • Charles Mazivanhanga - Near real-time correction of flood forecasting using high-resolution satellite data for multi-hazard risk assessment in lowland tropical regions (PhD, DREAM CDT, NERC/ESRC, 2016 – 2019)
  • Mickaël Dubois - Eco-hydromorphology applied to fish communities of chalk stream and management perspectives (PhD, Affinity Water and Environment Agency, 2016-2019)

Previous research students

  • Chiara Magliozzi - Hydroecological investigations on the hyporheic zone to support river management from reaches to catchments (PhD, Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN, 2015 – 2018)
  • Kim Vercruysse - Processes controlling the sources and transport dynamics of suspended sediment in rivers (PhD, Arup and Leeds City Council, 2014 – 2017)


  • Affinity Water
  • Anglian Water
  • Canal and River Trust
  • Cefas
  • Environment Agency
  • Heathrow
  • Leeds City Council / Arup
  • Luton Borough Council
  • NERC (Advanced Training Short Course)
  • European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN)


Articles In Journals