Dick Fenner

Professor Richard Fenner


  • Position Emeritus Fellow
  • School Technology
  • Department Engineering - Division Civil Engineering
  • Email raf37@cam.ac.uk
  • Department link Engineering
  • Phone number 01223 765626

Richard is Professor of Engineering Sustainability and Director of the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development. His research focusses on water, sanitation and sustainability issues in both developed and developing countries

Dick Fenner

Richard is a Chartered Engineer and a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management.  After a period working for an engineering consultancy he has pursued an academic career, completing his doctorate in 1988 and joining Cambridge University’s Engineering Department in 2002. He has led the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development for the last 17 years, establishing it as a unique internationally leading programme designed to encourage young engineers to rethink how they deliver engineering goods and services. He has written extensively on issues relating to engineering education and is co-author/joint editor of the books Sustainable  Infrastructure: Principles into Practice  (2014) and Sustainable Water (2016). He has served on a number of editorial panels for the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers and also on Steering Groups for the Environment Agency, Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) and the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Currently he is a  Member of the Editorial Advisory Panel for Nature Sustainability.

He has been a Fellow of Wolfson College since 2006 and serves on the College's Carbon Reduction Committee. He is the recipient of several awards from the Institution of Civil Engineers, including the George Stephenson Gold Medal, R A Carr Prize and James Watt Medal; the Senior Moulton Medal from the Institution of Chemical Engineers; and a University of Cambridge Pilkington Teaching Prize.

Research interests

Richard’s research interests focus on water, sanitation and sustainability issues in both developed and developing countries, with a focus on urban drainage, UK  water industry asset maintenance and water, sanitation and health (WASH) issues in Africa.  

His research has included published work on: the asset maintenance of sewerage infrastructure, developing scale laws for hydrodynamic separation, developing algorithms for leak detection in water mains,  applying sensor arrays for monitoring sewage odour, modelling UV disinfection of greywater and recycling for single home use, building a simplified climate impact assessment tool to evaluate  the impact of climate change on water treatment plant operation, and examining the impacts of coupled resource management of water, energy and land on food security.

He is currently working on Research Council funded projects on urban flood resilience in the UK, rural water supply in Africa and environmental hazards in Bangladesh. Based in the Engineering Department’s Centre for Sustainable Development his team are also exploring how techniques of Natural Flood Management in upstream rural catchments can influence the performance of drainage networks in urban areas in the lower reaches of a catchment. Much of his work involves adopting a systems dynamics approach so that a wide range of interdependent factors are identified and understood. Dick has published over 100 journal papers, book chapters and numerous conference contributions.