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Personal profile

Research interests

Phil Ashworth is a Professor of Physical Geography specialising in river morphodynamics and sedimentology. His research interests span a range of scales including the largest rivers and estuaries in the world. He focusses on the field quantification of alluvial morphodynamics, the diversity of large river pattern and the application of fluvial sedimentology in characterising reservoir heterogeneity. This work has been supported by 16 NERC grants and several contracts from the petroleum industry.

Scholarly biography

Phil Ashworth is the Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Knowledge Exchange) and Professor of Physical Geography.

As the Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor he is responsible for ensuring that the actions arising out of the University Research and Enterprise Strategic Plan are supported and implemented effectively to maximise the scale, quality, impact and international reach of the University’s research and KE. Phil leads development of the Centres of Research and Enterprise Excellence (COREs), leads on the investment strategy, implementation and financial management of the quality-related (QR) income (£5.7m) and manages the Research Services budget (£1.6m). He also Chairs the University's Commercialisation Panel that invests HEIF income in new innovation projects and exploits IP and business opportunities. Phil was a member of the Executive-led 'Securing our Future' Group that planned the new size and shape of the university from 1 September 2018. As part of this work, he led the workstream making £2.2m of efficiency gains and savings across the Research and KE remit. He is currently a member of 'Securing our Future2' that was established in May 2022 to achieve further financial savings. Phil leads the University planning on investing and opimising QR investment and is a member of the School Size and Shape Transition Board that is overseeing reconfiguration of the new cross-School roles and responsibilities. He is also on the strategy board for the university Finance workstream as part of the 5-year plan for Brighton 2025 and serves on the IT Governance Board and TRAC group. Phil serves on the Strategy Board of the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre in the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and on the Research Design Service South East (RDS SE) Advisory Board. He was a lead member of the REF2021 executive team, including principal author of the Institutional-Level Environment Statement.

Phil is an international scholar in the earth, physical and environmental sciences with H-Index of 49 and over 6600 citations. He currently works on landscape evolution and sedimentation across a range of scales including the largest rivers and estuaries in the world. His research has been supported by over £5.5m of funding including 16 grants from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Phil has close links with the petroleum industry and recent projects include working on the Albertan Oil Sands in Canada.

Phil has a strong association with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) where he was one of only 14 UK scientists invited to chair all the Responsive Mode grant panels (2010-2014). He has also chaired panels for a number of Directed Programmes, Strategic Capital Equipment, International Opportunities and Global Partnerships. Phil is currently a NERC Core member of the Peer Review College and a member of the NERC Scientific Support and Facilities Review Group. He is a member of the UKRI Future Leaders Panel Pool and was Deputy Chair in interviews for Rounds 1 and 4 and a Sift Member for Round 5. He also recently served on the EPSRC AI CDT panel. Phil was a council member and trustee of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) (2014-2017) and is a co-author of the Benchmark Review of UK Physical Geography produced in association with the RGS. He was made a Fellow of the British Society for Geomorphology in 2014 and received the RGS Cuthbert Peek Award in May 2021 from the RGS for 'pioneering wide-reaching research methods through remote sensing and modelling of river dynamics'.

Phil was appointed to the REF2021 UoA14 Geography and Environmental Studies sub-panel and helped draft the Guidance on Submissions and Criteria and Working Methods, with assessment of outputs, impact and environment completed in February 2022.

Phil is a keen advocate of research dissemination through different media and has outputs on ResearchGateYouTube, and Twitter and has published articles in the Times Higher Education and Wonkhe

Supervisory Interests

I will be delighted to supervise students in river dynamics, sediment transport and morphological change in the world's largest rivers, flooding and river-floodplain connectivity and UAVs/drone applications in river mapping.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Stirling

1 Oct 19831 Jun 1987

Award Date: 1 Jul 1986

Bachelor, Aberystwyth University

1 Sep 19801 Jul 1983

Award Date: 1 Jul 1986

External positions

NERC Panel Chair: Economics of Biodiversity Panel

21 Jun 2022

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Sift Panel Round 5

2 Feb 20213 Feb 2021

NERC Strategic Need Advisory Working Group (SNAG)

31 Jan 202131 Jul 2021

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Interview Panel Round 4: Deputy Chair

29 Jul 2020

Member of Research Design Service South East (RDS SE) Advisory Board

Jul 2020 → …

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Interview Panel: Deputy Chair Round 1

21 Jan 201922 Jan 2019

UKRI Future Leaders Panel Pool

11 Jan 2019 → …


6 Nov 20188 Nov 2018

REF2021 UoA14 Sub-panel Member, UKRI

1 Mar 20181 Apr 2022

NERC Peer Review College Core member

9 Nov 2017 → …

Fellow BSG (10% of membership), British Society for Geomorphology

1 Sep 2014 → …

Fellow RGS, Royal Geographical Society

2013 → …

NERC Pool of Grant Panel Chairs



  • GB Physical geography
  • Rivers
  • Sediments
  • Floods
  • Channel pattern
  • Erosion
  • Deposition


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