Dr Dani Barrington


Dani works in the field of water, sanitation and health in low resource contexts. She is passionate about working at the nexus of technology and society, particularly investigating how appropriate technologies, programmess and policies can improve health and well-being outcomes.

At university Dani first studied a double degree in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Chemistry. It was there that she realised just how important the interactions between people, engineering and the environment really are. She was a founding member of The University of Western Australia Pantomime Society, so spent the five years of her undergraduate degrees laughing on stage, being part of a team and learning to be a leader as President and Producer of several shows. Between her degrees and pantomime, she decided that what she really wanted was to be an engineer that focused on people. What reason could there possibly be for engineering if it weren’t for people? She could do the technical calculations, but what she was really interested in was how engineering designs could have a positive influence in the world.

Dani's PhD investigated wastewater treatment in rural Australian towns, and whilst refining her research and writing skills at the university, she volunteered with the Western Australian Chapter of Engineers Without Borders Australia, eventually becoming President. This culminated in a secondment to Nepal for almost a year, where she worked with remote communities to develop water safety plans for their newly built water systems and toilets. This is when she truly recognised the importance of both technical and social skills in improving the WASH situation, and that her love of making a fool of herself (on stage and in person) was a great asset in connecting with people.

On returning to Australia, PhD certificate and overseas work experience in hand, Dani threw herself into job-hunting and grant writing where she felt she could be the best version of herself – at the intersection of water and sanitation technologies, people and the environment. So far this has seen her working as a practitioner and researcher in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, India, China, Uganda, Indonesia, Republic of South Africa, Nepal, Mozambique and Zambia.

In her "free time", Dani is Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Humanitarian Engineering.

Research interests

Dani is a proponent of the Amartya Sen philosophy of "Development as Freedom" and Robert Chambers' approach of participatory development. Her work particularly focuses on the use of participatory action research (PAR) to engage with communities and local stakeholders so as to understand, navigate and improve complex water, sanitation and hygiene systems around the globe.


  • PhD
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental) with Honours
  • Bachelor of Science (Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry)

Professional memberships

  • The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Student education

Dani teaches on several of the units that make up the MSc(Eng) in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering, particularly Engineering for Public Health, The Management of WASH Projects and Water Supply. She also supervises several students undertaking this and the undergraduate MEng course.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering