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Academic Profile

Dr Charles' research focuses on environmental health risks, using interdisciplinary approaches to analyse how we construct our understanding of environmental health risks, and how to communicate those risks to affect change. With her research team, which includes expertise in water quality, health and social sciences, and through partnerships with UNICEF and governments, she is leading work on drinking water quality and climate resilience that will help progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal for safe drinking water quality for all (SDG 6.1). Her work has been funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), World Health Organization, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and includes work in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Rwanda, and Uganda. Dr Charles undertook her PhD on a risk-based approach to management of decentralised wastewater treatment systems in Sydney's drinking water catchments in Australia. She joined the University of Oxford in 2013 having previously been a lecturer at the University of Surrey.

Current Research

Dr Charles leads research across two international, interdisciplinary research programmes on water security. As co-director of the REACH: Improving water security for the poor programme, she is leading research on water security challenges in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya. On the GCRF Hub for Water security and sustainable development, she is leading research on water security and health. Across these programmes her research addresses two key areas:

Methodological development on how we conceptualise and measure risk. Water safety risks commonly focus on individual hazards, most frequently E. coli, overlooking the multiple risks to health. Dr Charles' team addresses how monitoring data shapes our understanding of health risks through advancing analysis of multiple risks, sampling biases and inherent variability, as well as how climatic events affect risk. In healthcare facilities, this includes research on environmental risks via water related to poor management of water systems and waste disposal, including antimicrobial resistance.

Pathways to integrate water safety into water supply. Where financial resources or capacity is low, water safety is often assumed to be provided by infrastructure design rather than being actively managed. As a result, water quality is often a limiting factor in achieving safely managed drinking water. Dr Charles' team has been working across different contexts on the opportunities and barriers to uptake of water safety into water supply delivery and management. With Fundifix, in Kenya, work has focused on embedding water safety in professional services management, including use of fit-for-purpose laboratories to support rural water safety, and is addressing water safety in schools. In Bangladesh, the SafePani model is demonstrating delivery of climate-resilient, safe water services for rural communities and schools with government and UNICEF.

Selected Research Projects

Teaching

Dr Charles leads the Water and Health module for the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management. She co-leads an elective on Health, Environment and Development, with Dr Proochista Ariana in the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health. She contributes to the MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine.

Current Graduate Research Students

Rob Ferritto

Engaging men as allies to women's empowerment when implementing gender-based WASH interventions

Nameerah Khan

Bangladesh's arsenic crisis: Navigating the complexities of the science-policy interface of water quality and health

Saskia Nowicki

Health Risk in Complex Adaptive Rural Water Systems

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

Thanti Octavianti
Completed DPhil in 2019

Achieving water security in a developing-country delta city: Challenges from a waterfront development project in Jakarta Bay

Julian Kirchherr
Completed DPhil in 2017

The Anti-Dam Protest Cycle: Evidence from Asia

Recent Graduate Research Students

Kenan Okurut
Completed DPhil in 2015
Demand-driven sustainable sanitation improvements in low-income informal settlements: a collective approach for East African cities (University of Surrey)

Selected Publications

  • View Dr Katrina Charles's ORCID profile
  • View Dr Katrina Charles's Scopus profile
  • View Dr Katrina Charles's ResearchGate profile
  • View Dr Katrina Charles's Academia.edu profile
  • View Dr Katrina Charles's Google Scholar profile
  • View Dr Katrina Charles's ResearcherID profile

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Reports