William Norriss profile picture

William Norriss

Loughborough University


Waterfalls, hillslopes & sediment: Understanding critical controls of Landscape Evolution


  • Dr. Edwin Baynes, Loughborough University
  • Dr. John Hillier, Loughborough University
  • Dr. Dimitri Lague, Université de Rennes 1, France
  • Dr. Philippe Steer, Université de Rennes 1, France

PhD Summary

Waterfalls are novel landscape features controlling the pace and pattern of landscape evolution on a variety of timescales. Whilst, the processes upon which waterfalls are defined cause adjustments to river morphology and the morphology of surrounding hillslopes, the physical processes which govern such processes remain poorly understood. Will’s research utilises laboratory modelling, in-situ data collection and topographical analysis to approach the complexities of waterfall processes. The overall aim of using such an approach is to develop the currently simplified approach to modelling waterfall retreat. To further this, the project assesses the impact such waterfall processes have on
the wider landscape.

Previous activity

Having studied and thoroughly enjoyed Geography throughout my GCSEs and A levels, I began studying my Undergraduate BSc in Geography in 2019. During my undergraduate degree I used GIS and remote sensing to map deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest to assess the overall effectiveness of defining areas of rainforest as ‘protected areas’ under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines. I completed my undergraduate degree, graduating from Loughborough University in the summer of 2022.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

During my undergraduate degree, I really enjoyed the opportunity to undertake individual research projects culminating in the dissertation. I also particularly enjoyed modules surrounding river processes and geomorphology. Within an undergraduate degree you get the opportunity to look up to highly successful academics who make real differences in the field in which they work, the opportunity to work alongside them and impact the research that is undertaken in the future was an opportunity not to be missed.

Why did you choose CENTA?

The opportunity to work with my supervisors on a project with great potential really interested my in a CENTA studentship. Alongside this, the support that we, as students and researchers, have available to us through CENTA is second to none. This culminates in the opportunity to undertake some fantastic training and development courses, access unique conferences, amongst others. Finally, the camaraderie between CENTA students further enhances the experience of undertaking a Doctoral training partnership (DTP).

Future plans

I hope to forge a successful career in Academia in the future and undertaking a DTP with CENTA will provide me with the foundation to do this. Not only will I come out with the PhD required for a career in academia, but alongside this, I shall be able to undertake the training and gain the skills required to succeed in an academic career. Having finished my PhD, I will assess potential postdoctoral researcher positions before hopefully progressing towards a lectureship.