Dr Stephen Haley
Senior Laboratory Manager


Research interests

I am interested in sustainable environmental water management through improved understanding of the relationship between catchment scale agricultural land use practises and water quality. My current role balances responsibility for the efficient and effective delivery of UOE Geography and Archaeology laboratory and field services, with scientific research to inform the evidence base for the practical management of river catchments.

Research projects

I returned to Exeter in 2013, after working as a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer, on the River Wensum, Norfolk,for Natural England. This work centred around delivering evidence based management advice and training to farmers, in order to mitigate against the risks of diffuse water pollution from agriculture. The role also involved partnership research work in conjunction with the Environment Agency, Norfolk County Council, the Highways Agency and the Wensum Demonstration Catchment project based at the University of East Anglia.

I have recently provided expert radio-isotope analytical advice and field support in China, for the international partnership project, SPECTRA, examining soil processes and ecological services in the Karst Critical Zone of Southwest China, led at UOE, by Prof Tim Quine. This work involved equipment support for the utilization of portable gamma specrometry to analyse in-field sediment fluxes through the detected variation of Cs-137 activity in eroding soils across terraced agricultural landscapes.

In recent years, I have been centrally involved with significant research projects for Natural England, in conjunction with academic colleagues at the University of Plymouth and practitioners from the environmental consultancy APEM. These projects have included; Examination of contemporary sediment sources in the River Mease catchment, Leicestershire, UK; Development of mitigation measures and communication stratagies for the engagement of catchment stake holders in the River Mease catchment, Leicestershire, UK; Determining the sources and effects of sediment ingress on fresh water pearl mussel beds in the River Culn, Herefordshire, UK.

I have previously delivered various research work for ADAS (UK) Ltd, both directly and through the University of Exeter, including an important component of a major sediment sourcing module within the Defra / Environment Agency Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) programme. The sediment sourcing module was designed on the basis of using control and manipulated target sub-catchments within a Before-After, Control-Impact (BACI) experimental design for assessing the impact of on-farm mitigation measures on particulate matter (inorganic and organic) emissions to streams. The sourcing work combined revised geochemical sediment fingerprinting for inorganic particulate matter with a range of methods for tracing particulate organic matter, including the use of biomarkers, compound-specific stable isotopes and bulk stable isotopes (analysed at North Wyke Research) as well as excitation emission fluorescence spectroscopy and near infrared reflectance (NIR) (analysed at the University of Southampton).

I also provided expert technical support in radio-isotope dating of floodplain cores for a NERC funded research project at Exeter, lead by Prof Andrew Nicholas and Prof Rolf Aalto. The project aimed to improve understanding of how rivers and floodplains interact to construct, preserve and recycle sediments and associated stratigraphy on the Rio Beni, in the Bolivian Amazon.

I previously worked as PDRA with a team from Plymouth University on a novel research project, which considered the effects of land use and riparian management on coarse sediment supply and the consequent impacts on river channel morphology and ecological habitats in the River Avon, Devon.

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