Laura Kelly 

PhD Candidate

Laura is a PhD candidate in her second year of study at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. She is based in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and her research supervisors are Prof Robert Kalin and Dr Douglas Bertram. Her research is funded by, and is part of the Climate Justice Fund - Water Future Programme delivered by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde.


Laura holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering from Edinburgh Napier University and a Masters of Science in Hydrogeology from the University of Strathclyde. She also has a number of years experience working as a project civil engineer and a graduate water engineer on a variety of environmental projects.

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‘Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere’ – Albert Einstein

Development of a framework for assessing temporal changes in Groundwater – Surface Water Interactions

Research overview

Groundwater and surface water (GW-SW) interaction is an essential part of the natural hydrological cycle. In developing countries with sub-tropical climates like Malawi, many rivers are sustained by groundwater in periods of dry weather which can last up to 9 months of the year. In addition, these river flows are a vital inflow to many lakes and can have significant effects on lake levels. From this we can see the importance of understanding and monitoring how groundwater interacts with surface water.


To date, the literature lacks an established framework to quantify and assess temporal changes in GW-SW interactions. Laura's research therefore aims to develop such a framework. By assessing these temporal changes, valuable insight will be obtained on the changing behavior of Malawi's water resources and an integrated picture can be formed. This insight is essential for meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.

In the wet season in Malawi (left), Groundwater & rain feeds the river. In the dry season (right), Groundwater sustains river flow

The Mwanza river, one of many rivers in Malawi which sustains life. The upstream section of the river enjoys high flows (left), however the lower section dry's up for periods of time due to decreased groundwater levels (right)

Extra activities

  • As part of the MSc in Hydrogeology course at Strathclyde, Laura has delivered the tutorial focused on "Groundwater-surface water interactions" for the past 2 years. This has included classroom presentations, preparation of assignment and marking duties.


  • Laura accompanied the MSc Hydrogeology class of 2016-2017 on a research trip to Malawi for 7 weeks and is active in meeting with undergraduate and masters students to provide advice on various environmental topics.

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