Theo Sarris

Dr Theo Sarris is a Science Leader in the Environmental Science team based at ESR's Christchurch Science Centre

Theo holds a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and a Master’s and a Doctoral degree in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of South Carolina, USA 



  • Research

    Theo is also an Honorary Research Associate, at the School of Mathematics & Statistics of Victoria University Wellington and a Senior Associate Editor of the ICE journal Environmental Geotechnics.(external link) Theo is the co-chair of the 2023 AGC/NZHS Conference (external link)and served as president of the New Zealand Chapter(external link) of the International Association of Hydrogeologists(external link) until 2022.   

    Theo’s research interests include the development of theory and methodologies for modelling the transport of nutrients and pathogens in aquifers, environmental risk analysis and the quantification of uncertainty in groundwater resources management. His work is now focused on minimising the risk for drinking groundwater supplies from microbial and viral contamination and reducing nitrate levels in groundwater.  He is also interested in optimisation problems for engineering and environmental applications and incorporating AI and Deep Learning tools and techniques to groundwater hydrology.  

    Theo has over 25 years of professional experience in the United States, Europe and Australasia, across research, governance and engineering consulting. In 2005 Theo established his own advisory services company in Greece, specialising in groundwater resources management and served as Senior Science Advisor to the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.  In 2013, he moved to NZ to lead the groundwater modelling team of Consulting Engineering firm Beca, where he was involved in large environmental, mining and infrastructure engineering projects in the greater Australasia and Pacific region.  

    In late 2016, Theo joined ESR’s Groundwater Research Group, where he leads large groundwater research projects, on topics such as managing contamination risk for groundwater wells from human activities and climate change, integrating AI tools in physical and chemical transport modelling and engineering mitigation options for reducing nutrient levels in groundwater. He works closely with iwi, communities and regional councils to develop practical solutions and tools for the protection, safety and resilience of their groundwater resources. Theo Is the author and co-author of numerous research papers, conference proceedings and technical and research reports. 

    Find out more about groundwater modelling 

  • Publications