Professor Stephen Rice

PhD (University of British Columbia)

Pronouns: He/him
  • School Associate Dean for Research and Innovation
  • Professor of River Science

Academic career

  • 2018-present: Associate Dean (Research), School of Social Sciences & Humanities, Loughborough University
  • 2016-2018: Head of Department of Geography, Loughborough University
  • 2011-present: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor of River Science, Loughborough University
  • 1996: Ph.D. Geography, University of British Columbia
  • 1990: M.Sc. Geography, University of British Columbia
  • 1988: B.A. Geography, Oxford University, G.W. Gilbert Prize

Professional responsibilities

  • Previously: Bureau, International Association of Sedimentologists; Vice-Chair British Society for Geomorphology; NERC Peer Review College; Chief Editor Sedimentology
  • Currently: Editorial Board RGS-IBG Book Series; Editorial Board IAHR Journal of Ecohydraulics

Professor Stephen Rice gives his inaugural professorial lecture

Stephen is a fluvial geomorphologist interested in the physical processes at work in gravel-bed rivers and the interactions between fluvial processes and river ecosystems. His research has two main strands:

  • Ecogeomorphology, ecohydraulics and freshwater zoogeomorphology, particularly the role of biotic energy in driving and conditioning geomorphological processes in rivers and the interactions between organisms, sediment transport and near-bed hydraulics. This includes recent work on the zoogeomorphic roles of crayfish, freshwater fish and aquatic insect larvae using a combination of field investigations and experiments at Loughborough’s River Science Laboratory.
  • The sedimentary structures and size characteristics of gravelly, river-bed sediments including sediment sorting and water-worked structures, bar formation processes and the links between fluvial sediments and lotic ecology. This includes ongoing work on emergent rocks as a key oviposition resource for aquatic insects, recent work on fine sediment ingress into river beds and a longstanding interest in the role of “sedimentary links” and geomorphologically significant confluences in structuring and explaining sediment characteristics and biodiversity at network scales.

Professor Rice teaches undergraduate and MSc classes in physical geography, mainly in fluvial geomorphology and river science, including river management.

Professor Rice is excited to supervise students interested in the themes listed on his research page.

Current postgraduate research students

  • Mr Leo Camelo, “Understanding geomorphic response to hydrological events: filling the data gaps”, (NERC CASE) part-time expected 2023
  • Mr David Whitfield, “Working with natural processes to adapt to climate change and to reduce flood risk”, (NERC) expected 2024
  • Bethany Worley: “Biocontrol of invasive crayfish using European eels and the implications for river geomorphology and flood risk” (EA funded), expected 2021

Recent postgraduate research students

  • Amelia Bulcock (2021) “The geomorphic and hydraulic impacts of complex weir removals: Evaluating risk in river restoration” (NERC)
  • Dr Harry Sanders (2021) “Biotic and abiotic controls of burrowing by signal crayfish and the implications for sediment recruitment to rivers”
  • Dr Richard Mason (2020) “The zoogeomorphology of case-building caddisfly larvae”
  • Dr James Smith (2019) “Ecosystem engineering by Bream in lowland rivers”
  • Dr Kate Mathers (2017) “Signal crayfish impacts on fauna and fine sediment dynamics in lowland rivers”
  • Dr Andrew Pledger (2015) “Zoogeomorphology of selected UK freshwater fish”
  • Dr Richard Gravelle (2014) “Temporal variability of meltwater and sediment transfer dynamics at an Arctic glacier, Storglaciären, Northern Sweden” 
  • Rice SP. (2021) Why so sceptical? The role of animals in fluvial geomorphology. WIREs Water, e1549, www
  • Lancaster J, Rice SP, Slater S, Lester RE, Downes BJ. (2021) Hydrology controls oviposition habitat but concurrence with seasonal egg-laying patterns varies among caddisflies, Freshwater Biology, www
  • Sanders H, Rice SP, Wood PJ. (2021) Signal crayfish burrowing, bank retreat and sediment recruitment to rivers: a biophysical sediment budget, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 46: 837–852,www
  • Vettori D, Rice SP (2020) Implications of environmental conditions for health status and biomechanics of freshwater macrophytes in hydraulic laboratories, Journal of Ecohydraulics, 5: 71-83. www
  • Mason R, Rice SP, Wood PJ, Johnson MF (2019) The zoogeomorphology of case-building caddisfly: quantifying sediment use, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 44: 2510-2525, www
  • Mathers K, Rice SP, Wood PJ (2019) Predator, prey and substrate interactions – the role of faunal activity and substrate characteristics, Ecosphere,www
  • Rice SP, Pledger AG, Toone JA, Mathers K (2019) Zoogeomorphological behaviours in fish and the impact of benthic feeding on bed material mobility in fluvial landscapes, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 44: 54-66, www
  • Rice SP. (2017) Tributary connectivity, confluence aggradation and network biodiversity, Geomorphology, 27: 6-16, www
  • 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, www