Professor Virginia Stovin

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Professor of Green Infrastructure for Stormwater Management

CIV Virginia Stovin
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+44 114 222 5051

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Professor Virginia Stovin
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Room MezC4
Sir Frederick Mappin Building (Broad Lane Building)
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

My research into urban drainage aims to understand how we can use natural components (soils and plants) to control storm runoff from urban areas, meaning we can work to reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

Professor Virginia Stovin

Virginia studied her first degree in Geography at the University of Manchester and joined the Department as a lecturer in 1995.

Her research focuses on Urban Stormwater Management and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS); how we can develop engineered drainage systems using natural components such as soil and plants to manage storm flows generated by urban constructs such as buildings, pavements and car parks.

Virginia looks at the technical performance of vegetated SuDS (particularly green roofs and ponds) and Green Infrastructure, aiming to understand the processes that control the quantity and quality of urban runoff in order to develop fit-for-purpose models of those processes and generate novel strategies to enable storm water to be managed more effectively and sustainably.

The work embraces fundamental science (hydrology and hydrodynamics), and has strong practical relevance. 

Research Themes




Research interests

Virginia is an internationally-acknowledged authority on the hydrological performance of green roofs.

The work uses pilot-scale green roof test beds and complementary lab trials to understand and model how different soils and vegetation interact to change the way the roofs respond to rainfall events.

Using 3D computer simulation, laboratory tests involving real vegetation and real ponds, Virginia measures the flow patterns of water in storm water ponds, and evaluates how different types of vegetation affect the water flow.

By understanding and modelling how vegetation impacts on water movement in ponds, better predictions can be made of pollutant transport and removal, and the ability of ponds to improve water quality.

Her research informs the design process for urban drainage systems for improved water quality.

This has a positive impact on the ecological status of rivers, and helps to ensure that the UK’s waterways meet the Water Framework Directive.

Other ongoing work focuses on the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to optimise the design of sewer and SuDS components, such as manholes and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO).

As part of the TWENTY65 project, she focuses on dual function SuDS and Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) systems.


Journal articles

Research group

Water Engineering Discipline

  • SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) and Urban Drainage
  • Environmental Fluid Mechanics

Grand Challenge for Water

The EPSRC-funded Grand Challenge Centre for Water, comprising 6 UK universities and 100+ industrial partners working in collaboration to develop the sustainable water solutions of the future and to accelerate innovation uptake across the water sector.

Urban Green DaMS

Urban Green Design and Monitoring of Sustainable Drainage Systems (Urban Green DaMS) is a collaborative research project between the University of Sheffield and Newcastle University, led by Prof. Virginia Stovin and Prof. Richard Dawson respectively.

Potential PhD offerings

Probabilistic Performance Specifications For Suds/green Infrastructure

This project will utilise commercial and in-house hydrological/hydraulic modelling tools to develop robust probabilistic performance specifications for SuDS.

Modelling Site-scale Suds At The Street-scale

The focus of this project will be to transfer detailed understanding of site-scale performance, e.g. of a single green roof, to appropriate representation within commercial hydraulic models (InfoWorks, SWMM) applied at the city-scale. This will ideally include case study performance evaluations of retrofit SuDS options.

Enhanced Runoff Detention In Green Roofs Or Stormwater Planters

This project will focus on the potential to enhance detention within either green roof or stormwater planter systems, through modified outlet arrangements and/or modifications to the substrate/growing media. Laboratory tests will be undertaken to evaluate a range of alternative options and to derive suitable hydraulic models for them.

Beyond Drainage: The Impact Of Suds On Urban Microclimates

Urban stormwater management increasingly makes use of SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems), which often incorporate open water and/or vegetation. Evapotranspiration from SuDS is expected to have a beneficial (cooling) impact on the urban microclimate, and may also have benefits for the indoor climate in adjacent buildings. The project will use a range of modelling tools (and possibly some experimental work) to quantify these effects.

Flow Patterns And Pollutant Retention In Vegetated Suds Ponds

This project will focus on the development of robust CFD-modelling procedures to enable better design and analysis of SuDS ponds. Use will be made of new and/or existing field or laboratory data sets to validate the CFD work.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (cfd) Applications In Urban Drainage

CFD modelling tools enable engineers to visualise 3D flow patterns within complex structures and to represent the movement of sediments and/or dissolved materials within the flows. This approach has provided insights into, for example, sediment deposition within combined sewage storage chambers, gross solids separation in combined sewer overflows and the passage of intermittently-discharged solutes through pipes and manholes. There are a number of ways in which this work might be further developed, including the exploration of links between residence time distributions and energy losses or the development of robust time-dependent modelling methodologies. In all cases use will be made of either new or existing field or laboratory data sets to validate the CFD work.