Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


60 seconds with... Richard Taylor

7 October 2019

Meet Richard Taylor, Professor of Hydrogeology at UCL Department of Geography. Richard will be delivering his Inaugural Lecture, 'Surviving the Anthropocene: the role of groundwater', on Tuesday 15 October. Read on for a sneak preview...

Richard Taylor

Tell us a little about your research...

My research seeks to better understand how groundwater, the world’s largest distributed store of freshwater, can improve access to safe water and food security through irrigation. I focus on conditions in low-income countries across the tropics, seeking to understand the resilience of these groundwater-based solutions to climate change and human development. My research career began as a chemist assessing the impact of refuse dumps in Nigeria on the quality of spring water but student riots ended this ambition in 1991 and I realised that I knew nothing of the geology connecting dumps to springs - a career in hydrogeology beckoned.

Why is your research important?

Across the tropics and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, major questions remain around how communities can achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Water (SDG 6) and Food (SDG 2) in the face of climate change and rapid development.

What inspires you in your research?

Colleagues and communities in low-income countries who continue to strive to improve water supplies for drinking and food production under very challenging conditions. 

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

I have two: trekking across the summit of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda to observe the dwindling extent of alpine glaciers in 2005; and finding water-level records in an abandoned cabinet of the Tanzanian government that solved a riddle and confirmed a hypothesis: groundwater replenishment in this dryland occurs from episodic, extreme rainfall associated with El Niño events.

What passions/hobbies do you have outside of work?

Wild swimming as it is called in the UK, playing football, and slowly developing my ability to speak Serbo-Croatian are key passions of my (sadly) very limited spare time.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Poetry from the Future with the subtitle, Why a Global Liberation Movement Is Our Civilisation's Last Chance, by Srećko Horvat.

Register on Eventbrite for Richard's lecture


Inaugural Lecture Series 2019/20

This lecture is part of the 2019/20 series for UCL's Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The series provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our professors who are undertaking research and scholarship of international significance, and offers an insight into the strength and vitality of the arts, humanities and social sciences at UCL.

All our lectures are free to attend and open to all. You don't have to be a UCL staff member or student to come along.

Lectures begin at 18:30 and are typically one hour long. A drinks reception will follow, to which everyone is welcome to join.

We look forward to meeting you at one of our events.

Take a look at the full programme below and register your place on our Inaugural Lectures Eventbrite page.