Jonathan Wilcox


I am an environmental engineer studying infrastructure economics. In September 2019 I joined the Water-WISER Centre for Doctoral Training as a Postgraduate Researcher in the School of Civil Engineering after seven years in industry. My PhD project investigates the economics of increasing the coverage of improved-quality pit-latrine emptying and transport services.

In 2012 I graduated from MEng Environmental Engineering at UCL with an Erasmus year abroad at Aarhus University. During the last two years, I focussed on urban water and wastewater supply and treatment, also taking a module at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit on urban water and sanitation, planning and politics.

After graduating I worked as a Research Assistant at The Bartlett between 2012 and 2013 on two projects: Grand Challenges of Sustainable Cities: Developing Water Reuse Networks in London; and Environmental Macro Indicators of Innovation: Domestic Energy Efficiency Modelling. 

Between 2013 and 2018 I worked for Southern Water initially as an Asset Scientist and later as a Design Engineer. In both roles I gained experience and knowledge of wastewater and sludge treatment systems, working with operatives to optimise process performance, planning and managing an investment portfolio, and leading process engineering design for capital projects.

In 2018/19 I worked for Sanivation, a social enterprise in Kenya that partners with local government to increase access to safely-managed sanitation services. On this Engineers Without Borders fellowship, I used my experience from the UK water industry to commission a full-scale faecal sludge treatment plant that produces solid-fuel briquettes. I then used the data from commissioning to validate a financial model and support business planning.

In 2019 I joined first Water-WISER CDT cohort wanting to study economics and finance to complement my background from industry in environmental engineering. In my PhD, I am studying how public funding can be most effectively used to increase coverage of pit-latrine emptying and transport services. I plan to use the project to develop skills in investment appraisal, stakeholder and partnership engagement, and translational research. In the programme beyond my PhD project I have presented at three conferences (Stockholm World Water Week, UNC Water and Health, and AfricaSan6); joined the organising committee of the UK Sanitation Community of Practice (SanCoP); delivered a consulting project on business models for faecal sludge management.


Research interests

  • increasing coverage of safely-managed sanitation services
  • public funding decision making
  • translational research
  • investment appraisal


  • MEng Environmental Engineering

Research groups and institutes

  • Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering