Professor Stephen Rice PhD (University of British Columbia)

Photo of Professor Stephen Rice

Head of Department of Geography

Professor of River Science

Academic career

2016 onwards: Head of Department of Geography, Loughborough University
2011 onwards: Professor of River Science, Loughborough University. 
1995 - 2007: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Physical Geography, Loughborough University.

Professional responsibilities

2016 onwards: Editorial Board, RGS-IBG book series
2016 onwards: Associate Editor, Journal of Ecohydraulics
2013-2017: External Examiner, Lancaster Environment Centre
2010 - 2014: Chief Editor, Sedimentology
2010 – 2014: Member of the Bureau of the International Association of Sedimentologists
2008 - 2010: Vice-chair (Publications) British Society for Geomorphology
2007 - 2010: Associate Editor, Sedimentology
2006 -2009: NERC Peer Review College 
2003 -2010: Executive Committee of the British Geomorphological Research Group/British Society for Geomorphology .

I am a fluvial geomorphologist with research interests in lotic ecology. My research has two primary themes: (1) the physical processes at work in gravel-bed rivers and the sediments and landforms produced; (2) the interactions between fluvial processes and freshwater ecosystems. Within these themes, recent and ongoing research follows four strands:

  • ecogeomorphology and freshwater zoogeomorphology, particularly the role of biotic energy in driving and conditioning geomorphological processes in rivers and the two-way interactions with lotic ecology
  • the sedimentology, geomorphology and eco-hydraulics of gravel-bed rivers at patch and bar scales
  • the role of “sedimentary links” and geomorphologically significant confluences in structuring and explaining fluvial sediments and ecosystem processes at network scales
  • the structure and size characteristics of gravelly, river-bed sediments

Current projects include:

  • Zoogeomorphic roles of crayfish, freshwater fish and aquatic insect larvae, always using a combination of distributed field observation and focused experiments in the field, our flumes or mesocosms (e.g. PGR work of Mathers, Smith, Sanders, Mason, Worley funded by EA, NERC and Loughborough University)
  • Modelling weir removal to assess risks and benefits in sensitive river reaches (e.g. River Dove Derbyshire/Staffordshire) funded by NERC with Trent Rivers Trust, PGR Milly Bulcock & Dr Dapeng Yu
  • Species diversity in a fractal world with Barbara Downes, Jill Lancaster (University of Melbourne) and Rebecca Lester (Deakin University)
  • Routine measurement of stress in plants used in hydraulic experiments and the links between stress, physiological response and hydraulic performance with Davide Vittori and the JRA1 group of the Hydralab+ EC consortium 

My teaching examines river dynamics (geomorphology, ecogeomorphology) and river management.

Current postgraduate research students

  • Ms Kate Mathers, “Crayfish Impacts on fine sediment dynamics in lowland rivers” (Glendonbrook Scholarship, Environment Agency)
  • Mr James Smith, “Ecosystem engineering by Bream in lowland rivers”
  • Ms Amelia Bulcock, “The geomorphic and hydraulic impacts of complex weir removals: Evaluating risk in river restoration” (NERC, case with Natural England))
  • Mr Richard Mason, “The geomorphic impact of cased caddis flies on sediment dynamics in gravel-bed rivers” (NERC)
  • Ms Bethany Worley “Biocontrol of invasive crayfish using European eels and the implications for river geomorphology and flood risk” (Environment Agency)
  • Mr Harry Sanders “Biotic and abiotic controls of burrowing by signal crayfish and the implications for sediment recruitment to rivers”

Recent postgraduate research students

  • Andrew Pledger (2015): Zoogeomorphology of selected UK freshwater fish

Rice SP  (2017) “Tributary connectivity, confluence aggradation and network biodiversity”, Geomorphology, 27: 6-16 10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.03.027

Rice SP, Johnson MF, Mathers K, Reeds J, Extence C (2016) “The importance of biotic entrainment in base flow fluvial sediment transport”, Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 121: 890–906, doi:10.1002/2015JF003726.

Powell DM, Ockelford A, Rice SP, Hillier JK, Nguyen T, Reid I, Tate NJ, Ackerley D (2016) “ Structural properties of mobile armours formed at different transport intensities in gravel-bed rivers” Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 121: 1494–1515, doi:10.1002/2015JF003794.

Mathers K, Wood PJ, Rice SP, Dunbar M, Extence C, Chadd R, Reeds J. (2016) “The long-term effects of invasive signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) on instream macroinvertebrate communities”, Science of the Total Environment 556: 207-218.

Pledger AG, Rice SP, Millet J (2016) “Bed disturbance via foraging fish increases bedload transport during subsequent high flows and is controlled by fish size and species”, Geomorphology 253: 83-93

Rice SP, Johnson MF, Reeds J, Extence C, Longstaff H (2014). “Diel patterns of suspended sediment flux and the zoogeomorphic agency of invasive crayfish” Cuadernos de Investigación Geográfica 40, 7-27

Johnson MF, Rice SP. (2014) “Animal perception in gravel-bed rivers: Scales of sensing and environment controls on sensory information” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71, 945-957

Pledger AG, Rice SP, Millet J (2014) “Reduced bed material stability and increased bedload transport caused by foraging fish: a flume study with juvenile Barbel (Barbus barbus)” Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 39:1500-1513

Inaugural professorial lecture

Professor Stephen Rice gives his Inaugural Lecture, 'Seds, bugs and rocks that roll: how animals create habitat and landscapes'