Professor Louise Heathwaite FRSA, FRSB, FRSE


Research Overview

Expertise and published research

Louise’s expertise is in nutrient biogeochemistry. She is an active scientist with >150 international peer reviewed publications. Her research is especially focused on characterising the impact of nitrogen and phosphorus loss from agricultural land on freshwater quality. Since joining Lancaster in 2004 she has won research grants totalling over £6.3m, mainly from the UK Research Councils (BBSRC, NERC, ESPRC and ESRC). Her applied expertise in catchment science and water quality management has been funded by Defra and the Environment Agency.

Louise was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2015 in recognition of the distinguished contribution she has made to understanding the sources and hydrological pathways of diffuse pollution from agricultural land. This built her earlier established contribution to the discipline of hydrology through election in 2004 as Vice-President of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), which has over 7,000 members drawn from nearly 200 countries worldwide. Louise is credited with advancing the Critical Source Areas concept that forms the cornerstone of many models of diffuse pollution risk (e.g. scimap) that are used widely in policy (e.g. Water Framework Directive river basin characterisation process; Defra's Catchment Sensitive Farming project), and at a practical level (e.g. through the The Rivers Trust).

Louise’s research interests are strongly interdisciplinary and constantly evolving. She has continued to grow her early interests in microbial diffuse pollution, and led a major (£800k) project on the strategic control of animal disease risk, working at the natural-social science interface to build the evidence base to inform decision-support systems to ensure the uptake of science into policy. She has published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation on waterborne pathogens (Bridge et al. (2010) WHO 88:873–875), in PLoS ONE on uncertainty in infectious disease modelling (Christley et al., PLoS ONE 8(10): e76277), on nutrient cycling in rivers (Lansdown et al. (2014) ES&T 48(8) 4425-34, Heppell et al. (2014) Biogeochem. 117(2-3): 491-509, Lansdown et al. (2015) J. Geoph. Res. 120: 1093-1109) and the use of the citizens’ jury to evaluate environmental risk (Fish et al. (2012) Environmental Management & Planning 57(2)). Current research projects include the investigating phosphorus dynamics in groundwater-fed rivers (Bieroza & Heathwaite (2015) J. Hydrol. 524:333-347, Bieroza & Heathwaite (2016) Sci. Total Envt. 572: 1520-1533) and examining innovative ways to bridge science and decision-making to reduce microbial pollution at the catchment scale (Oliver et al. (2014) Env. Int. 64:124-128).

Selected Publications Show all 237 publications

Characterization of the key pathways of dissimilatory nitrate reduction and their response to complex organic substrates in hyporheic sediments
Lansdown, K., Trimmer, M., Heppell, C., Sgouridis, F., Ullah, S., Heathwaite, L., Binley, A., Zhang, H. 03/2012 In: Limnology and Oceanography. 57, 2, p. 387-400. 14 p.
Journal article

Multiple stressors on water availability at global to catchment scales: understanding human impact on nutrient cycles to protect water quality and water availability in the long term
Heathwaite, A.L. 01/2010
Literature review

Measurement of colloid mobilization and redeposition during drainage in quartz sand.
Bridge, J.W., Heathwaite, A.L., Banwart, S.A. 1/08/2009 In: Environmental Science and Technology. 43, 15, p. 5769-5775. 7 p.
Journal article

Increases in lake phytoplankton biomass caused by future climate-driven changes to seasonal river flow
Jones, I.D., Page, T., Elliott, J.A., Thackeray, S.J., Heathwaite, A.L. 05/2011 In: Global Change Biology. 17, 5, p. 1809-1820. 12 p.
Journal article

Modelling and managing critical source areas of diffuse pollution from agricultural land using flow connectivity simulation
Heathwaite, A.L., Quinn, P.F., Hewett, C.J.M. 10/03/2005 In: Journal of Hydrology. 304, 1-4, p. 446-461. 16 p.
Journal article

Characterising phosphorus loss in surface and subsurface hydrological pathways
Heathwaite, A.L., Dils, R.M. 5/05/2000 In: Science of the Total Environment. 251-252, 1, p. 523-538. 16 p.
Journal article

A conceptual approach for integrating phosphorus and nitrogen management at watershed scales
Heathwaite, L., Sharpley, A., Gburek, W. 2000 In: Journal of Environmental Quality. 29, 1, p. 158-166. 9 p.
Journal article

Phosphorus management at the watershed scale: a modification of the phosphorus index
Gburek, W.J., Sharpley, A.N., Heathwaite, L., Folmar, G.J. 2000 In: Journal of Environmental Quality. 29, 1, p. 130-144. 15 p.
Journal article

Modelling the impact of land use change on water quality in agricultural catchments
Johnes, P.J., Heathwaite, A.L. 15/03/1997 In: Hydrological Processes. 11, 3, p. 269-286. 42 p.
Journal article