Rebecca Wade
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Research activity per year

Personal profile

Personal profile

I’m a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science with over 20 years of experience of teaching, research, consultancy in the fields of Urban Ecosystem Services, Green Infrastructure, River Restoration, and Sustainable Stormwater Management (Natural Flood Management and SUDS).

Before joining the Urban Water Technology Centre at Abertay in 2002, I completed my doctoral training in physical geography at Dundee University, and then worked as postdoctoral researcher on stream and river processes at the University of Illinois (UIUC), USA. 

I work locally, nationally and internationally with government, industry, environmental regulators and research collaborators to address contemporary environmental management challenges and to increase our understanding of human interactions with nature. 

I’ve worked on a wide range of projects, from water and ecosystem management in urban areas in Brazil, and urban diffuse pollution mitigation in Scotland, to linking greenspace with health benefits.  I have established success in research proposal writing, consortium building and funding procurement. In the period from 2008 – 2017 I was involved in 73 submitted proposals (as PI, Co-I, or named researcher), 33 of these were successful (45% success rate).

I also coordinate the international SUDS network (SUDSnet) helping to connect researchers and practitioners within an international community of practice. With my co-organiser (Prof Sue Charlesworth at Coventry University) we have been running the network and hosting international conferences since 2004. We have sustained the network as a self-funded community of professional practice for 13 years since the EPSRC network funding finished. The network has over 800 members internationally (network membership is 75% practitioners, 25% academics). Through the network we have been instrumental in knowledge exchange and sharing of good practice during a time when the understanding and application of sustainable drainage has been developing at pace.

As a STEM ambassador and Athena Swan leader I help to promote STEM subjects and equality in STEM, working within Abertay and externally with schools. I have also been instrumental in running Café Science events, Women in Engineering day activities, Dundee Women in Science Festival, FameLab and have contributed to Pint of Science.

Research: My major research interests include: Urban Ecosystem Services, Geomorphological and Ecological effects of Stream Naturalization; Issues of urban drainage and improving urban watercourses; Stream Channel Restoration; Ecosystem-based Management; and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS).


Research interests

My Research areas:

Urban Environments: urban water and greenspace management; built/natural environment interactions; urban sustainability; multiple benefits delivery by green spaces and green infrastructure, including links to biodiversity and human health and well-being

Urban Ecosystem Services: goods and services provided by the environment which are particularly relevant in urban areas; multiple benefits.

Sustainable water management: SUDS; surface water management; Multiple benefits delivery by sustainable water management through enhanced understanding of Ecosystem Services

Rivers/Hydromorphology: river restoration, catchment science, natural flood management

I have contributed to EU and International projects and provided policy guidance to Scottish Government on diffuse pollution management, urban stormwater management and rural SuDS. I have contributed to both of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment reports (2011 & 2015). These have formed the basis of U.K. Government environment papers and policies.

I am a prolific writer of research proposals and have a track record of success in consortium-building, proposal preparation and funding procurement.

I have worked with colleagues on many European and International projects that have challenged me to work across cultures and languages and in different climates to deliver solutions that tackle water quantity and quality problems whilst also delivering additional benefits (such as; amenity, recreation, biodiversity, energy saving, aesthetic improvement, health and well-being etc).

Examples of recent International projects are: 

EU MED funded project (E2Stormed – gaining energy and carbon benefits from sustainable stormwater management);

UK-Brazil Newton funded project (ADEPT – environmental and community benefits from green infrastructure). 

More locally, I work with stakeholders and communities to help deliver impact from research.

Examples of local projects are:

Dundee Green Health Partnership, working with NHS Tayside and Dundee City Council and supported by SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) exploring Dundee's natural environment as a resource that can be used to help tackle some of our key health issues. The initiative aims to bring about a step change in the use of nature-based solutions to deliver health outcomes.

Rottal Burn River Restoration Project, working with Esk Rivers and Fisheries Trust, River South Esk Catchment Partnership and Angus Council to monitor the progressive physical environment changes to a restored river reach. As well as monitoring the movement of the river through time we have been exploring the ecosystem service values resulting from the restoration efforts and have hosted a conference show-casing 5 years of collaborative research work and multi-agency data collection at this river restoration location.

When collaborating on projects I work with colleagues in a holistic and inclusive way. I often work on projects where key stakeholders are engaged from the very early stages to work collaboratively to form ‘learning alliances’ and ‘regional working groups’ to co-design and co-deliver the storm water solutions. This approach helps regions to ‘transition’ to more sustainable storm water management. Evidence of this can be seen in the E2Stormed project ( Within the E2Stormed project, along with UWTC colleagues, we were instrumental in delivering SUDS training and advice as well assisting in development of Regional Working Groups for Energy Efficiency and production of the Transition Manual for several Municipalities across the Mediterranean.

Research funding:
I have established success in research proposal writing, consortium building and funding procurement. In the period from 2008 – 2017 I was involved in 73 submitted proposals (as PI, Co-I, or named researcher), 33 of these were successful (45% success rate). A total of £16,250,000.00 in funding requested, translating to £4,900,500.00 in successful funding (31% of total requested) and bringing £750,000.00 to Abertay.



Civil & Environmental Engineering BEng/MEng : Environmental Science & Technology BSc/MSci

ENV101 - Introduction to Environmental Science

EEM103 - Landscape Processes and Surveying (Module Tutor)

EEM201 - Surveying and Construction

EEM203 - Water Resources and Fluid Dynamics

ENV309 - Food and Water Security and Sustainability (Module Leader)

ENV315 - Stakeholders in the Environment (Module Leader)

ENV316 - Environmental Science in the field and lab

ENV409 - Climate and Environmental modelling

FOR411 - BSc Honours project (Module Tutor)



ELE007 Smart Cities 

ELE021 Success through Failure



Professional Activities:

Director (non-executive), Dundee Science Centre, since 2019

Director (executive), SUSTAIN Dundee, since 2018

Trustee, Esk Rivers and Fisheries Board, since 2018

Fellow, Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce

Steering Group Member, Dundee Green Health Partnership, since 2018

Advisory Board Member, WaterCity H2020 (UK-China) project

Member, International Working Group on WSUD (Water Sensitive Urban Design) since 2014

Member, SAGES (Scottish Alliance for Geoscience Environment and Society) since 2012

SAGES Theme leader (Landscape Form, Use and Change: a Dynamic Earth) since 2018

Member Scotland’s Landscape Alliance (and SLA working group member for WG1 Landscape and Healthy Communities; WG3 Landscape Land Use and Economy)

Committee Member, Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum

Committee Member, Scottish Universities Green Infrastructure Research Group

External Examiner at Dundee University (MA Environmental Sustainability) 2013-16

External Reviewer for MSc modules at Coventry University

External Reviewer for training course at Middlesex University

Invited Panel Interviewer for NERC (Droughts and Water Scarcity) from 2013

Invited member of ESRC Peer Review College from 2010

EPSRC Reviewer 2009 – present

NERC Reviewer 2011- present

Editorial Advisory Board Member World Water: Stormwater Management

Guest Editor for the Journal CLEAN –Air, Soil, Water (2013)

Peer Reviewer for the following publications: ICE (Institute of Civil Engineers) Journals; Science of the Total Environment (SOTON); the International open-access journal Water; Soil Science Society of America Journal; International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; Journal of Ecological Economics; Water, Air and Soil Pollution; Journal of Environmental Management; Journal of Water and Climate Change; Land Use Policy; European Journal of Engineering Education & others.

Paper Reviewer for 11th International Conference on Urban Drainage

Coordinator of paper contributions to SUDSnet Conferences 2004-present

Knowledge Exchange

Knowledge Exchange and Community Activities

Athena SWAN Award institutional self-assessment team (SAT) member for Abertay
Athena SWAN Award Departmental SAT Chair for School of Science Engineering and Technology at Abertay University.
Café Science Dundee, Committee Member (2009- present)
Women in Science representative for Abertay (2011 – present)
STEM Ambassador (2017 – present)
Scottish Crucible participant (2009) and active SC alumni (2009 – present)
Dundee Women in Science Festival Committee member (2011- present)
Coordinator AMCE (Abertays Most Civil Engineers) Cancer Research UK ‘Race for Life’ team (2013 & 2014)
British Geomorphological Research Group (BGRG) Member (1993 - 2004)
Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) Member (1993 – 1999)
British Hydrological Society (SHG member 2004 - ).
River Restoration Centre (presenter at national networking conferences 2006-present).
Invited participant NERC Green infrastructure workshop, Glasgow 2016.
Invited speaker SNH green infrastructure fund workshop, Edinburgh 2016
Invited Speaker Dundee Association of University Women (2016)
Invited Speaker Dundee Afternoon Lectures (2015)
Invited Speaker Royal Tay Yacht Club (2014)
Invited Speaker at Royal Scottish Geographical Society (2011)
Invited Speaker Café Science Extra Dundee (2009)
Invited Speaker Abertay Rotary Club (2009)


I am a STEM Ambassador, actively working with schools and stakeholders in scotland to promote, inspire and engage young people in STEM, and particularly to encourage and support women in science and engineering.

I am Abertay Universitys' 'Women in Science' Representative for: Dundee Women in Science Festival  (

and Athena SWAN Award self-assessment team (SAT) member for Abertay ( and SAT chairperson for the School of Science Engineering and Technology (SET) at Abertay.

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in academia.

I am a Café Science Dundee committee member and organiser, (,

I have been invited to present my work to the public at Cafe Science Dundee, at Abertay Rotary Club, at The Royal Tay Yacht Club, in the Dundee Afternoon lecture series and in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society public lecture series and to the Scottish Crucible Forum (2017).

Personal profile

Brief Biography: I gained my PhD (conferred 1998) at the University of Dundee. My thesis title was “A Quantitative Study of Waterborne Soil Erosion on Agricultural Land in Eastern Scotland - Towards Erosion Prediction”. Not long after completing my PhD I took up a Post Doctoral Research position in the USA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Whilst in Illinois I worked on river channel dynamics. My main research project was a US EPA-funded ‘Star Project’: “Development of an Integrated Scientific and Technological Framework for Stream Naturalization”. I was responsible for interdisciplinary project management, coordination of research focus and logistics and coordination of annual reporting.

I have been working at the Abertay University since returning from the USA in October 2002. During which time I have been involved in teaching, research, consultancy, and contract work and professional training (CPD).

My background is physical geography but I teach collaboratively with civil engineers and work in interdisciplinary teams on research projects that contribute to our understanding of human interactions with nature, and natures' interaction with the built environment. I work in both urban and rural settings and have extensive experience of working with the public and with stakeholders in relation to decision-making for multi-functional/ multi-benefit use of urban greenspace and rural environments. I have a track record of linking research to engineering and planning requirements and an successful in bringing together teams from diverse disciplines and backgrounds.
I have been awarded funding from AHRC to conduct 3 cross-disciplinary, community enagement projects within the Cross-ResearchCouncil 'Connected Communities' programme. I have worked with the James Hutton Institute on Scottish Government projects related to Urban Diffuse Pollution mitigation and Rural SuDS. I have contributed to EU projects: an EU Regional Development project on low-carbon initiatives (LoCalNet: and an EU MED programme dedicated to improving energy efficiency through sustainable stormwater management (E2Stormed: More recently I have contributed to Global Challenge research projects (Via Newton Fund) exploring possibilities for gaining multiple benfits from urban green space in Brazilian cities.

I am currently conducting research on fluvial geomorphic change at a river restoration site in Glen Clova, Angus and am working in collaboration with NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council and SNH on connecting people with nature for the good of their health.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Climate emergency summit III: nature-based solutions report

    Robinson, M., Pepper, J., Caldwell, A., Gibb, L., Toteva, G., Mitchell, C., Marrs, S., Loades, K., Payne, C., Young, T., Firth, A., Valluri, C., Smith, C., Claridge, H., Taylor, R., Midgley, A., Wade, R., Bestwick, C., Buckingham, S., Williams, M., & 25 othersBader, E., Dawson, L., Somervell, D., Muschamp, H., Jeorrett, C., Naylor, L., Hardie, A., Reay, D., Leatham, S., Campbell, D., Seal, L., Dutton, K., Revell, P., Cook, G., Brand, A., Morrison, A., Reid, A., Avis, K., Everett, N., Lilley, R., Tilbrook, C., Gillibrand, H., McBride, A., Haszeldine, S. & Robertson, H., 4 May 2020, Perth: Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS). 31 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

    Open Access
    196 Downloads (Pure)
  • Position statement on landscape, land use and economy

    Miller, D., Thomson, J., Barron, S., Bate, B., Brooks, S., Campbell, G., Crofts, R., Dawson, L., Hawkins, M., Hearns, D., Hughes, R., Macfarlane, A., Pretence, P., Rankine, D., Thomson, L., Wade, R., Younie, S. & Saunders, G., 28 Sept 2020, Edinburgh: Scotland's Landscape Alliance. 17 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

    Open Access
    89 Downloads (Pure)
  • Position statement on landscape and health and wellbeing

    Lowther, M., Evans, S., Wade, R., Procter, J., Lumb, A., Jones, R., Tennant, R., Ballantyne, J., Willey, H., Todd, H. & McCall, I., 28 Sept 2020, Edinburgh: Scotland's Landscape Alliance. 12 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

    Open Access
    90 Downloads (Pure)
  • Scotland's Natural Health Service: local green health partnerships

    Wade, R., 24 Oct 2019, Scotland field guide for the future. London: RSA, p. 32-33 2 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access
  • Urban pollution and ecosystem services

    Wade, R., Jan 2019, Urban pollution: science and management . Charlesworth, S. M. & Booth, C. A. (eds.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 199-209 11 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

    Open Access
    4 Citations (Scopus)
    219 Downloads (Pure)