Timothy Foster


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Personal profile


Dr Tim Foster joined the University of Manchester as a Lecturer in Water-Food Security in August 2016, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020. He leads the Agriculture, Water and Climate (AWC) Research Group with the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering and is affiliated with the Global Development Insitute. Prior to this, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska in the United States. Tim holds Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in Hydrology from Imperial College London, along with B.Sc. in Physical Geography from University College London

Research interests

Tim's research group's mission is to evaluate and quantify feedbacks between agricultural production and environmental change. They are particularly interested in understanding the links between agriculture, water resources and climate in order to identify technologies, management strategies and policies that enable farmers to sustainably decouple production and livelihoods from hydroclimatic variability and climate change. Their applied research activities are guided by the following core scientific and policy questions:
  1. What are the spatial and temporal patterns, and underlying drivers of water use within agricultural landscapes
  2. How do differences in water access and use influence the productivity, profitability, and climate resilience of agricultural production and rural economies?
  3. How do agricultural land and water use practices modify the water cycle and what impacts does this have on water availability and risk for ecosystems and other human uses?
  4. How can current and future agricultural needs for water be met sustainabily and cost-effectively while minimising negative impacts on the environment and wider society? 

The group addresses these questions using interdiscplinary approaches that combine insights, tools and methods from a range of discplines including hydrology, agronomy, engineering, remote sensing, climate science, economics and policy. The group currently has active research projects in several areas around the world, ranging from high productivity farming systems in North America and Europe to smallholder dominated agricultural regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. They use findings from this research to guide and inform water management, climate adaptation and rural development policies and programs in these regions, working in close collaboration with local researchers, government, private sector, multilateral donors, and international agencies such as the U.N Food and Agrciulture Organisation (FAO) and the CGIAR.
You can find out more about Tim and his group's research on their website.


Tim currently teaches on the following units within the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering:

  • Water Resource Planning and Management (MACE40402)
  • Environmental Assessment (MACE41141) 


For details about open positions for undergraduate, masters or PhD students, and Postdoctoral researchers, please visit my research group's website.
Prospective students
We are always keen to hear from talented, enthusiastic students and researchers with interests in our broad areas of research (see our research page for examples of recent and ongoing projects). If you're a student or researcher with a strong quantitative background and a passion for interdisciplinary work that addresses water, climate and agricultural sustainability challenges then we'd love to hear from you.

​There are a number of scholarships and fellowships (key info on our group website) for which we can support students and postdocs to apply for and we are happy to support and mentor you to develop a proposal to apply for one of these to join the group. If you'd like to explore any of these opportunities further, then get in touch with Tim via email including a copy of your current CV and a short description of your ideal research project. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute


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