Will Blake

Academic profile

Professor Will Blake

Professor of Catchment Science
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

The Global 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. Will's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 02: SDG 2 - Zero HungerGoal 04: SDG 4 - Quality EducationGoal 11: SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGoal 13: SDG 13 - Climate ActionGoal 14: SDG 14 - Life Below Water

About Will

I am Professor of Catchment Science with interests in soil erosion, its downstream impacts and associated land management challenges. I specialise in development and application of environment forensic/diagnostic approaches to solve complex sediment and pollution problems from catchment to coast.

I undertake research, undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in river basin science and physical geography.

Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute.

Director of the University of Plymouth Consolidated Radioisotope Facility (CoRiF).


I teach on the following subjects with a strong emphasis on linking teaching to my research: 

  • Hillslope hydrology and soil erosion

  • River basin fine sediment dynamics from catchment to coast 

  • Environmental pollution (especially sediment quality and legacy impacts of mining) 

  • Catchment science and management 

  • Catchment ecosystem services 

  • Geohazards: wildfire

  • Geographical science methods 

Wherever possible, my class teaching of process theory is supported by field- and laboratory-based practicals e.g. rainfall simulation to explore impacts agriculture on overland flow and soil erosion or quantification of the environmental quality of streams to assess the effectiveness of catchment sensitive farming. 

I have run overseas fieldtrips to the rainforest of Malaysian Borneo where I work on logging impacts on river sediments. I am keen to offer students opportunity to gain professional catchment science experience and regularly employ undergraduate and masters students within my research programmes to assist with field sampling and laboratory analysis. This includes training students to work to ISO9001:2008 standard in the University Consolidated Radioisotope Facility of which I am Director. 

I undertake research project supervision on BSc (Hons) Geography and related programmes and MSc projects within the 'Sustainable Environmental Management' and Environmental consultancy' programmes.