Research and expertise

Prime research area

Provision of sustainable urban infrastructure to the bottom billion people through partnering – policy, planning, procurement, management and innovation including transformative technologies . 

Thematic interests

  • Sustainable infrastructure provision including for the bottom (socially and economically deprived) billion people including political dimensions
  • Partnering to serve the urban poor: Improving urban services and fighting corruption. Improving urban quality of life using governance and management principles in the context of urban infrastructure services like water, sanitation and public transport. The issues looked into are partnering, values, access to and quality of urban services, combating corruption, improving accountability and transparency, service provision in uncertain environment, conflict resolutions, strategic decision making 
  • Organisational relationships including role of private sector, not for profit organisation in infrastructure provision, public-private partnerships (PPPs) for the urban environment, privatization (incl. water sector) – procurement, type of contacts including concessions, tariff setting and regulation 
  • Performance excellence, triggering and sustaining excellence, life cycle performance analysis, monitoring indicators, benchmarking, entrepreneurship including social entrepreneurship in urban service provision including community partnered procurement, and good practices analysis 
  • Innovative research methods and their applications in the context of urban infrastructure provision. 
  • Transformative Technologies, Innovation and inventions in processes and products to assist improving quality of life of the bottom billions..

Current research activity 

The issues of interest in no particular order:, Sustainability, Transformative Technologies Infrastructure economics, infrastructure development and finance, infrastructure policy and politics, Accountability and transparency, anti-corruption, construction, project management, project delivery, energy security, innovative toilets, private sector development and partnering, public infrastructure management, water policy, consumer behavior, Employment creation, incentives, markets, pricing and tariffs, project finance, public private partnerships, and organizational relationships.

  • Improving quality of life though sustainable infrastructure provision
  • International development, History, Influence, Philosophy, human behavior, listening
  • Higher education performance excellence
  • Theoretical interests: chaos, complexity, games, and reciprocity theory

Recently completed research projects 

  • Reinvent the toilet-Phase 3- Field testing in Asia and Africa (including additional work). Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Principal investigator, 2014-2018.
    This phase willfocus onfield-testing in Africa and Asia. This project Phase  follows on from the award of phase one , the Prize, the grant for second phase (to take the Reinvented Toilet to Technology Readiness Level (7). This prestigious grant was awarded after an international competition. The aim is to radically change the existing toilets to contributing in providing access to 10 million people over 5 yearsA toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water. A description as appeared in media is as follows; “Professor M. Sohail of Loughborough University and his team propose to develop a toilet to transform faeces into a highly energetic combustible through a process combining hydrothermal carbonization of faecal sludge followed by combustion. The process will be powered by the heat generated during the combustion phase and will recover water and salt from faeces and urine.”
    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2012/Pages/Loughborough-University-Water-Engineering-Development-Centre-OPP1069495.aspx
  • Willingness-to-pay study for water services in Gode, Ethiopia. Sponsor: JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency. Position in grant: Co-investigator, 2014.
    This work looks into willingness to pay for water services with a view to set tariffs.
  • Support to Sanitation Research at WEDC de-risking options. Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Principal investigator, 2013-2014.
    This work looks into different options for re-risking in the context of sanitation.
  • Reinvent the toilet-Phase 2. Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Principal investigator, 2012-2014.
    Following on from the award of phase one and Prize, the grant for second phase was awarded to take the Reinvented Toilet to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7. This prestigious grant was awarded after an international competition. The aim is to radically change the existing toilets to contributing in providing access to 10 million people over 5 yearsA toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water. A description as appeared in media is as follows; “Professor M. Sohail of Loughborough University and his team propose to develop a toilet to transform faeces into a highly energetic combustible through a process combining hydrothermal carbonization of faecal sludge followed by combustion. The process will be powered by the heat generated during the combustion phase and will recover water and salt from faeces and urine.”

 

Recent publications

Teaching

I contribute to learning and teaching activities including undergraduate, postgraduate across the Schools programmes including:

Undergraduate

19CVC006 Research Dissertation

19CVC023 Civil Engineering for Developing Countries

19CVD002 Research Dissertation

Postgraduate

19CVP258 Urban Infrastructure

19CVP292 Research Dissertation

19CVP298 Research Dissertation

19CVP319 Research Methods

19CVP410 Management of Water and Environmental Sanitation Services

19CVP412 Management of Village Water Services

Profile

Career 

I joined Loughborough University from industry in 1993 , following a career in infrastructure project management with an American corporation. I was attracted to work in international development with specific reference to sustainable urban infrastructure provision. Now Professor of Sustainable Infrastructure at WEDC, I have published more than 200 journal papers, books and conference papers and has international experience of more than 30 countries. I am also  a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a member of the editorial panel of an Institution of Civil Engineers journal, have served on several scientific committees and refereed several journals and research submissions for esteemed journals.

Professional affiliations

  • Fellow of American Society of Civil Engineers, USA, (Member since 1997, awarded Fellowship in 2008.)
  • Member of Pakistan Engineering Council, life member since 1986.
  • Member of World Road Association (PIARC).
  • Member of CIB Work Commission 107 (Construction in Developing Countries) and also participated in the activities of other CIB commissions and task groups. Appointed since 2001.
  • Editorial Panel Member –Engineering Sustainability, ICE

Awards

  • Fellow of higher Eudcation Academy, FHEA
  • Awarded Prize by Mr Bill Gates on Reinvent the Toilet Chllage in 2012

Examples of esteemed professional activities 

Several on-going activities like keeping contacts with the United Nations, The World Bank, etc. 

  • 2019 - Invited participation as the expert reviewer for  the proposal under Academy of Finland, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research.
  • 2018 - Invited by The Royal Society to be part of their review panel  for an  interdisciplinary grant led by the Royal Society in partnership with our sister Academies, The Academy of Medical Sciences, The British Academy and The Royal Academy of Engineering and funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
  • 2018 - Invited by CIB to be a member of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the International conference on Professionalism and Ethics in construction held from 21-22 November in UK. 
  • 2018 - Invited participation as the scientific expert in a panel of Academy of Finland, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research.
  • 2017 - Invited by Grand Challenge Fund Canada in their research peer review committee. 
  • 2017 - Invited to be part of Technical Committee on  ISO IWA on Community Scale Resource Oriented Sanitation Treatment Systems. The standard Development is being co-ordinated by ANSI.
  • 2017 - Awarded Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • 2016 - Invited by Government of Pakistan to participate in President’s Programme for Care of Highly Qualified Professionals.
  • 2015 - Invited by Roca and Blue print to participate in a meeting hosted on World Toilet day.
  • 2014 - Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, after an international competition, awarded funds of  $3,344,569 USD (~ 3.6 million) to the Loughborough University team lead by me. The grant will focus on field-testing the Transformative Technology (for Reinvented Toilet) in Africa and Asia. 

Key collaborators

My research and enterprise activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including: The World Bank, United Nations agencies, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Department for International Development , etc.