Skip to content
Open menu Close menu
Professor Gregory Watts

Professor Gregory Watts



Greg is Professor of Environmental Acoustics in the Faculty of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford. He is an internationally recognised expert on road traffic noise research and was awarded the RWB Stephens medal by the Institute of Acoustics for outstanding contributions to research and teaching. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics and he has a broad experience of working on acoustics projects for EPSRC, government departments and the private sector. Using live traffic environments and controlled environments, including involvement in fMRI brain scanning techniques, he has studied audio-visual interactions and their importance for environmental evaluations. He has developed methods to predict, map and improve perceived tranquillity and to assess levels of tranquillity in urban and rural open spaces. He was lead researcher on a DEFRA funded study to develop national criteria for identifying Quiet Areas to meet the requirements of the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006.

Further Details

His work in the transportation field, mainly funded by the Department of Transport / Highways Agency, involved a number of high profile psycho-acoustical studies which resulted in effective and practical designs of traffic calming devices such as road humps, rumble strips and more recently 'rumblewave' devices, all adopted for national use. His early work on driver perception has led to the adoption of a hazard identification test for those applying for a UK driving license. He has also developed and field tested locating devices for blind pedestrians at road crossings and station platforms. He currently serves on a number of ISO, CEN and BSI committees concerned with acoustical test methods for noise control products, measurement of tyre/road noise and the definition and evaluation of soundscapes. He was recently involved in drafting recommendations on EC tyre noise regulations for the Department for Transport and later for the EC. This has guided EU legislation on setting new limit values. He was also actively involved in the development of the state-of-the-art Harmonoise/Imagine vehicle source noise traffic noise model part funded by the EU and numerical modelling of sound propagation over complex shaped noise barriers. He has published over 100 papers and articles.

Educational record:
PhD Ergonomics, Birkbeck College, University of London 1978
MSc Ergonomics, University College, University of London 1974
BSc Honours Physics (First Class), University of Manchester 1969

Employment history:
2014 to present: Professor of Environmental Acoustics
2005 to 2014: Professor of Transportation Noise
1969-2007 Scientific Officer, Higher Scientific Officer, Senior Scientific Officer, Principal Scientific Officer, Senior Research Fellow, Transport Research Laboratory, Wokingham, UK

Recent research activities include:
2010- present: Audio-visual interactions and further development, application and validation of TRAPT in a wide range of environments including Hong Kong and Christchurch, New Zealand
2005-2010: Development of Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool (TRAPT)
2005-2006: Development of methods to identify Quiet Areas in England
2000-2006: Development of Harmonoise / Imagine vehicle source noise model

Recent Professional Activities:
2009-2010: Liminal / Sustrans


Future plans

Projects with conservation, heritage, health care and city authorities to improve well being through the engineering of natural and man-made environments

Current, and significant recent, funded projects

Collaboration with Chinese University of Hong Kong on: "Elucidation of the tranquillity concept and rating tool in Hong Kong"

EPSRC funded project: "Tranquillity of external spaces / influence of acoustic and visual factors"

Project with Liminal / Sustrans involving survey of water sounds and traffic noise in a river side environment

Applications submitted and under consideration

Collaboration with Chinese University of Hong Kong on "Comparing the perceptions and benefits of tranquillity in typical park landscapes in mainland China and Hong Kong by visitor numbers"


2003 awarded the RWB Stephens Medal by the UK Institute of Acoustics for outstanding contribution to acoustics research and teaching.

1995-present Fellow of the UK Institute of Acoustics.


Collaboration with Chinese University of Hong Kong
Collaboration with Acoustics Research Group at University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Member of ISO, CEN and BSI groups developing standards for: Test methods for noise reducing devices, test methods for measuring tyre/road noise and committee developing standards for soundscape researchers


Journal Publications +

  • Watts G.R. and Pheasant R.J. (2015): "Identifying tranquil environments and quantifying impacts." Applied Acoustics, Elsevier, Oxford, 89 122-127.
  • Watts G.R. and Pheasant R.J. (2013): "Factors affecting tranquillity in the countryside" Applied Acoustics, Elsevier, Oxford, 74 1094-1103.
  • Watts G.R., Miah A. and Pheasant R.J. (2013): "Tranquillity and soundscapes in urban green spaces – predicted and actual assessments from a questionnaire survey" Environment and Planning B, 40 (1): 170-181.
  • Watts G.R. (2012): "A preliminary study of the characteristics of noisy vehicles under cruising conditions – results of road side measurements" Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 98 279-285.
  • watts G.R., Pheasant R.J. and Horoshenkov K.V. (2011): "Predicted perceived tranquillity in urban parks and open spaces" Environment and Planning B, 38 (4): 585-594.
  • Watts G.R., Pheasant R.J, Horoshenkov K.V. and Ragonesi L (2009): "Measurement and subjective assessment of water generated sounds, Acta Acustica with Acustica" Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 95 1032-1039.

Published Papers +

  • Watts G.R. and Pheasant R.J. (2015): "Tranquillity in the Scottish Highlands and Dartmoor National Park – The importance of soundscapes and emotional factors", Applied Acoustics 89 297-305 (2015) , UK.
Profile last updated on: 11-02-2015