Professor Joseph Holden

Professor Joseph Holden


Potential PhD applicants from around the world: Please contact me if you have already secured, or will be able to secure from a sponsor, an international scholarship to come to the UK to study and are interested in undertaking a PhD in one or more topics including peatlands, hydrology, catchment management, soil science or agriculture. I would be very happy to speak with you about supervising your PhD and to discuss and design a suitable project with you.

Organisations with funding who need some research or hydrological monitoring undertaken for them: Please contact me at any time - I will be happy to discuss your needs. My research funders include businesses, government research agencies, government departments, charities and trusts, and philanthropists.

Brief biography:

  • 1994-1997 BA and MA Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 1997-2000  PhD in peatland hydrology, Durham University
  • 1998-2002  Part-time lecturer, Earth Sciences Stockton extension, supporting widening participation and mature students, Durham University
  • 2000-2002  Teaching Fellow, University of Leeds
  • 2002-2005  Independent NERC Research Fellowship, University of Leeds
  • 2005-2006  Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Leeds
  • 2006-2007  Reader / Associate Professor in Physical Gepgraphy, University of Leeds
  • 2007-now  Full Profesor, Chair of Physical Geography (I was the youngest full Professor in the UK at the time)
  • 2008-now  Director of water@leeds
  • 2013-2019  Pro-Dean for Research & Innovation for the Faculty of Environment
  • 2022-2027 UK Freshwater Quality Research Programme Champion
  • I received the 2007 Philip Leverhulme Prize and the 2011 Gordon Warwick Medal from the British Society for Geomorphology, both for outstanding contributions to science.
  • I am Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society


  • Director of water@leeds
  • Director of the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme
  • NERC UK Freshwater Quality Champion

Research interests

In my own research I seek to understand the processes associated with the hydrology and carbon dynamics of peatlands under environmental change. I also seek to understand how land management, including agriculture, impacts flowpaths through soils and into watercourses, and also how it impacts on hazard cascades such as flooding, wildfires, pollution, slope stability and drought risk.

I currently have ~£30 million of active grants on which I am a named investigator. I lead the £6M integrated catchment solutions programme (iCASP). I am Champion of the £8.4M NERC Freshwater Quality Research Programme. Follow my latest publication releases and grant information on Threads @profjholden or Mastodon . Since Twitter has changed to X, I don’t use that much @geojho

My research funders include businesses, government research agencies, government departments, charities and trusts, and philanthropists.

Example current projects include:

I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society.

I edit and write for several major textbooks:

PhD studentships

I currently supervise 13 PhD students from a wide range of countries including China, Indonesia, Oman, Chile, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the UK. I am happy to supervise talented research postgraduates in my research field. If you would be interested in sponsoring a PhD project to allow talented researchers to fulfil their potential and undertake a PhD then please contact me.

Current students include:

Advisory Boards

I am a member of several advisory or executive boards including:

  • Yorkshire West Local Nature Partnership, Director Board
  • Natural Environment Research Council, College
  • SENSE Centre for Doctoral Training management board
  • Chair of the Shetland Windfarm Environmental Advisory Group
  • Soil Association Exhange Science Advisory Group

Grant panel reviewing

I am available to be hired onto funding assessment panels. I have recently completed panel work for agencies in Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the UK. 

Ignore the garbage in the next project list and the list of PhD students below as I have no control over them as they involve an auto-populate design by the marketing and communications people at the university which does not work and is out of date.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MA Geography, University of Cambridge
  • PhD, University of Durham
  • Chartered Geographer, Royal Geographical Society

Professional memberships

  • Royal Geographical Society
  • Royal Meteorological Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • European Geosciences Union
  • British Hydrological Society
  • British Society for Geomorphology

Student education

I teach hydrological topics and have produced several textbooks

Research groups and institutes

  • water@leeds
  • River Basin Processes and Management

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//">Hydrological connectivity in peatlands: the impact of planted woodlands on adjacent peatlands</a></li>