Dr David Werner
Reader, Environmental Systems Modelling


I'm a Reader in Environmental Systems Modelling, Principal Investigator of environmental engineering and water quality related research grants, and Degree Programme Director of the Environmental Engineering MSc. 


My research focus is the use of sorbents for the in-situ remediation of polluted soils and sediments. Over the past ten years, this Environmental Engineering innovation has rapidly progressed from bench-scale trials to full-scale remediation applications. This innovative remediation approach seeks to minimize the uptake of persistent organic pollutants at the bottom of the aquatic and terrestrial food-chains, and to lastingly protect sensitive ecosystems and their services from a legacy of anthropogenic pollution. My main contribution to this area has been the development of the underpinning theoretical framework. My related work is for example cited in a 2013 Directive of the US EPA's Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, and in a 2015 US EPA commissioned Focused Feasibility Study for a Superfund Site near Richmond, California. As ultimate step towards a comprehensive theoretical framework, my research group is currently investigating the complex interlinkages between sorbent-based geochemical manipulations and the pollutant biodegradation in soils and sediments.

I am broadly interested in environmental protection and water quality. Exemplary research strands of my group include the use of metal impregnated, magnetic or reactive sorbents for water treatment, the use of passive samplers for environmental monitoring, and the protection of groundwater resources from point and diffuse pollution originating from sources such as fuel spills, pit latrines, soak-aways, or the use of chemicals in agriculture.

As an environmental scientist working in a School of Engineering, I strive to develop and verify theories and models which are readily applicable to the optimization of environmental engineering designs.

As EE MSc Degree Programme Director I am proud to continue the success of a well-respected programme which has been running since 1963. 


PhD/Docteur es Sciences (Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne)

BSc/Dipl. Umweltnaturwissenschafter (Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule in Zuerich)


Member of the American Chemical Society, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy  

Previous Positions and Industrial Collaborations

Postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University (2002-2004)
Environmental Consultant for UCW in Rafz, Switzerland (1998-1999)

My consulting experience includes writing technical reports, proprietary data review for the agrochemical industry and noise pollution modelling (for a railroad overpass in Zurich, Switzerland). I have hosted a visiting researcher from Nihon Nohyaku Co. Ltd in my laboratory and was the academic partner for knowledge transfer schemes with Enviresearch Ltd and Geneius Laboratories Ltd. I am co-investigator on a grant led by Professor Luthy at Stanford University sponsored by Chevron Co. I work with Scottish Water/Northumbrian Water/Severn Trent Water.

Esteem Indicators

I lead a Global Innovation Partnership connecting Newcastle University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the United States, IIT Dehli and CSIR-NEERI in India and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil. I also lead the STREAM-ReNUWIt network which connects Newcastle University, Cranfield University, Sheffield University, Imperial College London and the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom with Stanford University, the University of California at Berkely, the Colorado School of Mines and New Mexico State University in the United States. Previously, I was the leader for the International Network for Sediment Research (INSR) which connected Newcastle University with Stanford University and the University of Maryland in the United States, Peking University in China, the Institute of Technology and Applied Sciences in Cuba, the University of Tuebingen in Germany, the University of Eastern Finland and the University of East Anglia in the UK. I was editor for a special issue of the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology on "Sorption and Transport" member of the Scientific Steering Committee for SIDISA Milano 2012, and of the 4th International Symposium on sediment remediation (I2SM 2014) in Ferrara, Northern Italy. I have co-organized several sessions at the annual assemblies of the European Geosciences Union.

Honours and Awards

Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Scientists
Prize of the Chorafas Foundation in the category sustainable development for the PhD thesis at EPFL
Willy Studer Prize for the diploma at ETHZ


Swiss German


Google Scholar Profile 

Research Gate Profile 

International Research Collaborations

Research Interests

I am fundamentally interested in the working of all processes determining the pollutant fate in the natural environment and environmental engineering systems such as water treatment plants. I have developed and experimentally verified multi-scale and multi-disciplinary modelling tools to support in situ remediation of soils and sediments with activated carbon or biochar to reduce mass transfer of persistent organic pollutants into the aqueous or terrestrial food-chain. At the micro-scale these models integrate diffusion-limited mass transfer, sorption of organic compounds, and interactions of these physicochemical processes with biological processes such as the pollutant biodegradation by dynamic populations of microorganisms. At the macroscale the models account for geochemical heterogeneity and the resulting heterogeneity in the distribution of chemicals and pollutant degrading microorganisms. The modelling templates are applicable to any porous medium, for instance sand and GAC filters in water treatment works, or stormwater biofilters. I am increasingly also interested in modelling and monitoring the actual performance of decentralized water infrastructures, for example building-scale rainwater harvesting in the UK, or community-owned drinking water wells in unplanned, peri-urban settlements in Tanzania, in order to make them more sustainable.

Postgraduate Supervision

Current students:

Ms Alero Arenyeka, Ms Maria Valdivia-Garcia, Mr Onotasamiderhi Igun, Mr Badruddeen Sani

Previous students:

Dr George Mangse, Dr Khaled M. Bushnaf, Dr Abdulmagid E. Ali, Dr Sarah E. Hale, Dr Nayrah Khandani Ahranjani, Dr Ying Luo  


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons and gasoline additives (MTBE, ethanol, biodiesel), activated carbon, biochar, synthesis of novel sorbent materials, drinking water treatment, pollutant fate and transport modelling.


GLOBAL INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP (British Council): To Investigate, Restore & Protect the Urban Water Environment

COLLABORATION WITH CHINA (RAEng): Environmental Remediation Applications of Iron/Carbon Composite Sorbent Materials.  

IN-GROUND (NERC): Inexpensive monitoring of groundwater pollution in urban African Districts. 

MERMAID-ITN (European Commission): Microbial Resource Management and Engineering in the Urban Water Cycle. 

CONNECT (EPSRC): Connecting the UK Industrial Doctorate Centre for the Water Sector (STREAM) with the US Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt).

STREAM Studentship (EPSRC & Scottish Water): THM - from formation pre-cursors to management strategies.

Programme Administration

As Degree Programme Director (DPD) I am responsible for the quality management and enhancement, and standards of the Environmental Engineering MSc degree programme.

Undergraduate Teaching

CEG2101 Water and Wastewater Treatment (Module leader)

CEG3303 Computational Engineering Analysis

Postgraduate Teaching

CEG8405 Air Pollution

CEG8106 Groundwater Contamination and Remediation

CEG8503 Hydrosystems Processes and Management 

CEG8199 MSc Project and Dissertation in Environmental Engineering