Dr Celia Way


I joined the University of Leeds after working with BuroHappold Engineering from 2006 - 2016 in the Sustainability and Physics group, a team providing consulting services related to sustainable development and alternative technologies for the built environment.  

While working there, one of the projects I enjoyed most was with WaterAid developing a solar faecal sludge management design as part of an action research project.  I also initiated and championed the ‘Share Our Skills’ (SOS) initiative - a programme to make the collective skills of BuroHappold available to those in society who are most in need by enabling staff to pitch for time to work (pro-bono) on eligable projects.

While with Burphappold, pursuing my interest in rainwater harvesting, I undertook an engineering doctorate in Systems Engineering in collaboration with the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol and BuroHappold. As an industrial doctorate, I was based in, and worked for, BuroHappold for the duration, but had the benefit of access to the academic resources of the university. My thesis was titled ‘The Application of Decentralised Water Systems in the UK: What constitutes better water systems for the UK context?’ The research considered the debate surrounding the application of decentralised water systems in the UK – the key research question was: “Should we be promoting decentralised approaches to water management, or enhancing existing centralised systems?”

Prior to this I graduated from the University of Warwick with an MEng in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology (EDAT) in 2006.  This was a unique course at the time, focusing on sustainable design and addressing issues such as the environment, renewable energy and appropriate technology for less developed countries. The first year was common to other engineering courses, establishing the fundamentals, and was followed by specialist years containing mechanical engineering modules and those designed specifically for EDAT. Major design work in the third year allowed development of design solutions from concept to prototype testing.  For me, this meant exploring the functionallity of very shallow slow sand filters, and led to fieldwork in Uganda testing the concept in the field.  Further project work in the final year enabled us to address problems with a sustainable/ development theme. In this way, this course sought to fill the gap between industrial design and engineering courses. Underpinning the curriculum was the notion that the end user was central to design considerations.

Research interests

I'm practical, creative and want to help people. I am always looking to develop knowledge and understanding of the world around us, while seeking to have a genuinely positive impact on our society and the environment we depend on.

I'm currently working on the HyCristal Project, which has the broad aim of integrating hydro-climate science into policy decisions for climate-resilient infrastructure and livelihoods in East Africa. http://www.futureclimateafrica.org/project/hycristal/

Specifically, I am focusing on work to understand the impacts of climate change on urban WASH systems. A tool or platform will be developed to guide selection of cost-effective water supply and sanitation interventions, that will reduce the total health burden for the area considered.

My research interests include:

  • WASH in general and sanitation in particular
  • Faecal sludge management (FSM)
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Problem structuring
  • Practical application of climate science
  • Multi and interdisciplinary work
  • 'ground-truthing' concepts


  • EngD Systems Engineering, University of Bristol
  • MEng Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology, University of Warwick

Professional memberships

  • IWA

Student education

I currently supervise a range of students at both undergraduate and post graduate level.

Research groups and institutes

  • Cities and Infrastructure
  • Energy and Sustainable Buildings
  • Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>