Professor Joby Boxall

Head of Department
Professor of Water Infrastructure Engineering

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Sir Frederick Mappin Building
Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5760
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5700

Room: D112


My research protects public health and well-being through ensuring the quality of our drinking water and the resilience of our water supply networks.

Professor Joby Boxall


Professor Joby Boxall is Chair of Water Infrastructure Engineering and Head of the Department. He trained as a civil engineer, completing his undergraduate degree and his PhD in mixing and transport of pollutants in natural river channels, in the Department. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management.

Joby’s research is concerned with urban water (with a focus on water supply, distribution pipe networks in particular), and helps to protect public health and well-being through ensuring the quality of that supply. He takes a multidisciplinary approach to ensuring the provision of sustainable water services in the face of global grand challenges such as population growth and increasing density, climate change and ageing infrastructure. Joby works to monitor water quality, such as discolouration or bacteriological issues. He looks at the conditions inside our water pipes, including the biofilms in our water systems to ensure they don’t harbour harmful bacteria. He also investigates contaminant ingress, where dangerous contaminants can enter pipes through leaks and be transported through the pipe network. Joby’s work aims to understand our hydraulics systems’ behaviour by modelling networks and using physical flow measurements, to better predict where failures might occur and address quantity issues. His work on leakage ranges from fundamental understanding of fluid structure ground iterations to novel artificial intelligence based software for leak detection that has been commercialised.

His core expertise is in hydraulic engineering, but he is known for integration and application of other disciplines to address major challenges. His interdisciplinary work ranges from applied microbiology to computer to social science. His leadership of the EPSRC Water Grand Challenges consortium is a flagship example of this.

Joby’s research focuses on the operation and management of water distribution systems, ranging from leakage, to water quality and asset management. His long-running Prediction of Discolouration in Distribution Systems research is a leading example that has and continues to help water companies and their supply chain to deliver substantial service improvements in the supply of safe and wholesome drinking water through ageing pipe infrastructure, while delivering multi-million-pound savings.

Professor Boxall has taught a range of modules, from specialist masters levels modules on modelling water distribution systems, to core undergraduate modules on open channel hydraulics. He also pioneered innovative ‘self-teach’ open-channel flow laboratory classes.

Joby has held a number of important roles in the Department including being Departmental Director of Research from 2009 to 2014, where he led the 2014 Research Excellence Framework submission. He took over as Head of Department in 2017.

Selected Publications

Journal articles