Contact Dr Robert Grabowski

Areas of expertise

  • Natural capital
  • Sustainable Land Systems
  • Water Science and Engineering


Dr Robert (Bob) Grabowski is an interdisciplinary scientist specialising in the interactions between physical processes, ecological communities and humans within river-floodplain systems.

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). Later, Bob was a Research Fellow on the EU-funded project REFORM (Restoring rivers FOR effective catchment Management), where he helped to 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 (; He joined Cranfield as Lecturer in Catchment Science in 2014.

Research opportunity

For funded research opportunties, please see the University's current listing (

The Water Science Institute welcomes visiting students and academics. If you are interested in a short intership or secondment, and have funding to cover your travel and living expenses, please get in touch by email. We have hosted numerous students and researchers as part of their university studies or research projects.

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 and his research students are working on a range of topics in fluvial geomorphology, aquatic ecology and catchment science. Current and recent projects include:

  • Social, economic and environmental trade-offs in managing the land-river-interface (PI, NERC, Towards a Sustainable Earth, 2019 - 2021) - The project is investigating how land and river management can be harnessed to achieve sustainable development goals.
  • Improved prediction of cohesive sediment erosion based on inter-particle forces (PI, EPSRC, 2020-2022)

Current research students

  • Ben Exton - Transport, fate and aquatic ecological impact of airport de-icers (PhD CENTA2 DTP, NERC, 2019-2023)
  • Katy Wiltshire - Tracing the origin of sediments and carbon across the terrestrial-aquatic continuum (PhD, STARS CDT, NERC/BBSRC, 2018-2022)
  • 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)

Previous research students

  • Dr Mickaël Dubois - Eco-hydromorphology applied to fish communities of chalk stream and management perspectives (PhD, Affinity Water and Environment Agency, 2016-2019)
  • Dr Chiara Magliozzi - Hydroecological investigations on the hyporheic zone to support river management from reaches to catchments (PhD, Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN, 2015-2018). First position: National Research Council of Italy CNR-Pisa
  • Dr Kim Vercruysse - Processes controlling the sources and transport dynamics of suspended sediment in rivers (PhD, Arup and Leeds City Council, 2014-2017). First position: Postdoctoral research, University of Leeds


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


Articles In Journals