Cities Research Institute Newsletter
Issue 1 - April 2020
A Message from the Director

Dear Colleagues

Our cities are certainly very different places to what they were last year and while some aspects of urban life will return eventually to some semblance of previous normality after the COVID 19 crisis has passed, others will not. Cities throughout history have been devastated by plagues and epidemics and while our scientific knowledge of their causes and treatment has improved considerably, we have also learnt that there is a lot we do not know about each new outbreak and how best to respond to it.

After years of concerted attacks on the reliability of science and the credibility of scientific expertise, the recent crisis has seen some welcome recognition of the importance of making policy decisions in the light of the best available evidence and explanations. This does not mean that our elected representatives should hand over responsibility for making difficult decisions, or that conflicts over values and principles can be resolved by scientific methods, but it does mean that as researchers we can provide high quality evidence and explanations to decision makers.

At the Institute, some of our work on the development of emergency management strategies will be of immediate value, as will our research on the development of new ways to monitor and manage our critical infrastructure, including transport networks. Other work on place making and the public realm might have to recalibrate to take account of current obligations to maintain spatial (not social) distance and our work on local economic development strategies will have to take account of the devastating effect the crisis has had on businesses large and small.

The Cities Research Institute remains committed to carrying out research with the potential to inform public debate and decision making about many aspects of urban life and the processes that see our cities change. We continue to seek out opportunities to work in partnership with those in industry, government and the community sectors who share our commitment to help make cities better places. This newsletter gives a snapshot of some of the research and other achievements of our members.

I'm very pleased to announce that Professor Rodger Tomlinson will now be serving as the Deputy Director of the Cities Research Institute.  Rodger brings a wealth of experience of managing multi-faceted research programs and initiatives and will continue in his role as Director of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management. 

If you would like to discuss any opportunities to work with us in developing new research projects, please do not hesitate in contacting me or any of our research group leaders, whose details you can find on our website.

In the meantime, we wish you well and look forward to a time when our cities are once again places of vibrancy and close human interaction.

Paul Burton
Director, Cities Research Institute

Research highlights
 Well Deserved Award

Associate Professor Cheryl Desha was recently awarded the 2020 International Women’s Day Individual Champion of Change Award at the Public Safety and Associate Agencies’ International Women’s Day event in Brisbane.

Acknowledged for her expertise and vision for remote-collaborative working spaces which has seen the creation of two DEN (Digital Earth Node) rooms located at Griffith University's Nathan and Gold Coast  campuses,  Cheryl has worked as a member of the Advisory Research Group for the Queensland Inspector General for Emergency Management (IGEM) for a number of years.

See more on Cheryl's research and view a 360o video of the DEN spaces here.
Desha Southbank Profile Image

Cheryl was also one of the academic lead's for the construction of the recently opened N79 building at our Nathan campus. The building is a 'living laboratory' with around 30 sensors relaying information on the building’s energy, water and structural performance in real-time to students and the CRI engineering team to use in their studies and research. See more information and take a tour through the remarkable N79 building here.

Latest News from the Transport Team - Associate Professor Matt Burke

Members of the transport research team attended the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in January, the world's largest transport conference. PhD candidate Benjamin Kaufman and his supervisor Matthew Burke were presenters at a workshop on "Emerging Mobility Services for the Transportation Disadvantaged". In addition, Ben presented a paper from his PhD research on the Logan demand responsive transit trial, co-authored with Dr Abraham Leung and Matt. The team co-hosted the Australian Reception, attended by over 100 leading experts, participated in important committee meetings and also caught up with two of the Institute's favourite Canadians: Adjunct Professor Anthony Perl (Simon Fraser University); and, our recent long-term visitor Associate Professor Ugo Lachapelle (L'Université du Québec à Montréal).

Transport team pic April newsletter 
L to R - Abraham Leung, Benjamin Kaufman, Matthew Burke

Congratulations to our PhD Candidate Sheida Abdoli on her successful confirmation seminar on 10th March 2020. Sheida's research on when, where, why and how should operators shift to cash-free payments on urban buses, is being conducted with and for officers in Translink under the Transport Academic Partnership (TAP) agreement.

Congratulations to Bachelor of urban and  ESC Honours Student Madison Bland for his first-class honours ranking, both for his thesis and for his coursework. Madison did his honours with the help of the Institute under the supervision of Matthew Burke and undertook a work placement with our industry partners at Transport and Main Roads.

Dr Abraham Leung has been awarded a prestigious Visiting Wisdom Fellowship Grant. The award, worth around $35,000, will provide flights and living costs for a five-month fellowship at the School of Resource Wisdom at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. The funding will continue Abraham's collaboration on sustainable transport with Dr Stefan Baumeister. Stefan, a leading expert in aviation sustainability, visited our Institute for three months in 2019, hosted by Prof Tim Ryley at the Nathan campus. Congratulations to them both.

Enabling Community Action for Local Food Resilience and Contingency - Dr Kimberley Reis

Harnessing Digital Earth and Resilient Infrastructure is a key element of our research agenda on place-based approaches that deliver socially supportive and nature inspired solutions to complex challenges in our built environment. Within this we are enabling community-led decision-making that empowers communities to share responsibility for their food resilience in times of need. Our team connects community, business and government to build capacity for accessing local food and to thrive in uncertain times.

View the great work we are developing on three (3) pilot projects here.

Kim R food 3

Housing Research

Dr Judy Kraatz has just completed one project - Mapping the Australian social and affordable housing network – and has started another on Liveable Social and Affordable Higher Density Housing.  Both have been supported by the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (SBEnrc) of which Griffith University is one of three core academic partners.

The mapping project produced network maps for Queensland and Western Australia, along with twenty associated findings and recommendations which can be used to inform housing policy making and delivery across Australia. The maps, findings, and supporting materials have been brought together to facilitate a high level strategic yet pragmatic understanding of the complexities and associations in this network, to help organisations better leverage outcomes for those in need of social and/or more affordable housing. Research reports, the Final Industry Report and a YouTube video will be available on the SBEnrc site
SBEnrc1.61 Network Map

The new project on liveability and accessibility in medium to high density urban housing and precincts in our cities will investigate current leading practice, considering future innovative options, and pilots/case studies in both Western Australia (WA) and Queensland (QLD). This framework will identify key liveability and accessibility elements and will be a tool to help identify:

  • Key liveability outcomes - accessibility in both homes and the urban precinct in medium and high density social and affordable housing developments.
  • Adoption of liveable design outcomes - including highlighting successful best practice examples and identifying pathways for adoption and barriers preventing uptake of liveable design features in homes and urban precincts.
  • Understanding the value equation - capturing and demonstrating social and economic benefit to the broader community (including whole of life costing).
  • Next generation thinking - forward thinking is needed in order to maximise future infrastructure benefits and minimize future risks associated with medium- and high-density mixed tenancy urban environment. Being responsive to changing demographics is also central to this thinking.
For further details, please email Dr Judy Kraatz

In the Media
Dr Tony Matthews had recent comment and quotes related to Covid-19 and urban planning in Thomson Reuters News, Yahoo News, MSN, The Madras Courier (India), Times of India, The Jakarta Post, The World News Monitor, The Peninsula (Qatar) and The Star (Malaysia).
In January Dr Heather Shearer co-authored an article on The Conversation - "So, you want to live tiny? Here's what to consider when choosing a house, van or caravan” Read The Conversation article here. 
 PV Magazine wrote an article on the research completed by CRI members Mohamad Alipour, Hengky Salim, Rodney Stewart and Oz Sahin on Why go Solar? 333 Reasons.   Read PV magazine article here.
New Publications

Karki, S., Burton, P. and Mackey, B. (2020) Climate change adaptation by subsistence and smallholder farmers: Insights from three agro-ecological regions of Nepal, Cogent Social Sciences,

Karki, S., Burton, P. and Mackey, B. (2020) The experiences and perceptions of farmers about the impacts of climate change and variability on crop production: a review, Climate and Development, 12:1

Burton P., Tiernan A., Wolski M., Drennan L., Morrissey L. (2020) Resilient Cities, User-Driven Planning, and Open Data Policy. In: Hawken S., Han H., Pettit C. (eds) Open Cities | Open Data. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore

Xue HZ, Guan H, Gilbert BP, Lu XZ, Li Y (2020). Simulation of punching and post-punching shear behaviours of slab-column connections without shear reinforcement, Magazine of Concrete Research. DOI:10.1680/jmacr.19.00465.

Ma FH, Gilbert BP, Guan H, Lu XZ, Li Y (2020). Experimental study on the progressive collapse behaviour of RC flat plate substructures subjected to edge-column and edge-interior-column removal scenarios, Engineering Structures.

Qian LP, Li Y, Diao MZ, Guan H, Lu XZ (2020). Experimental and computational assessments of progressive collapse resistance of reinforced concrete planar frames subjected to a penultimate column removal scenario, Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, ASCE, 34(3):04020019-1

Diao MZ, Li Y, Guan H, Lu XZ, Gilbert BP (2020). Influence of horizontal restraints on the behaviour of vertical disproportionate collapse of reinforced concrete frames, Engineering Failure Analysis, 109.

Diao MZ, Li Y, Lu XZ, Guan H, Xue HZ, Hao ZD (2019). Post-punching mechanisms of slab-column joints under upward and downward punching actions, Magazine of Concrete Research.

Yang Z, Li Y, Guan H, Xu LW (2019). Dynamic response of reinforced concrete flat plate substructure test, The 13th International Conference on Shock & Impact Loads on Structures, December 13-15, Guangzhou, China, pp.519-525.

Franco, I. B. and Minnery, J. (2020) SDG1 No Poverty: Building Sustainable Communities -- A Framework for Supporting Community Livelihoods and Poverty Alleviation in Resource Regions, Chapter 2 in Franco, I.B., Chatterji, T., Derbyshire, E. and Tracey, J. (Eds) Actioning the Global Goals for Local Impact: Towards Sustainability Science, Policy, Education and Practice, Springer Nature, Singapore. pp. 5-21.

BTH Yen, C Mulley, M Burke, WC Tseng (2020) Parking and restaurant business: Differences in business perceptions and customer travel behaviour in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Land Use Policy 92, March 2020, 103818

Jackson,M., Beal, C., Stewart, R., 2019. Identifying and overcoming barriers to collaborative, sustainable water governance in remote Australian Indigenous communitiesWater 2019, 11, 2410; doi:10.3390/w11112410

Morgan, E. A., E. Torabi, and A. Dedekorkut-Howes. 2020. Responding to Change: Lessons from Water Management for Metropolitan Governance. Australian Planner. DOI: 10.1080/07293682.2020.1742171

Dedekorkut-Howes, A., E. Torabi, and M. Howes. 2020. When the tide gets high: A review of adaptive responses to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2019.1708709

Paper recognised as Springer Nature Highlights of 2019:

Caldera, H.T.S., Desha, C. & Dawes, L., 2019. Transforming manufacturing to be ‘good for planet and people’, through enabling lean and green thinking in small and medium-sized enterprises. Sustainable Earth.

Desha, C., Rowe, D., & Hargreaves, D. 2019. A review of progress and opportunities to foster development of sustainability-related competencies in engineering education. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 24:2, 61-73, DOI: 10.1080/22054952.2019.1696652

Caldera, S., Desha, C., & Dawes, L. 2019. Evaluating the enablers and barriers for successful implementation of sustainable business practice in ‘lean’ SMEs. Journal of Cleaner Production, 218: 575-590I.

Hayes, S., Desha, C., & Gibbs, M. 2019. Findings of Case-Study Analysis: System-Level Biomimicry in Built-Environment Design. Biomimetics, 4(4)

Joanne Dolley. Community Gardens as third places. Geographical Research, Wiley online library
EcoSummit 2020 becomes EcoSummit 2021

Due to the covid-19 outbreak, new dates have been locked in for 2021.

EcoSummit 2021
- Building a Sustainable and Desirable Future: Adapting to a changing land and seascape

Dr Jan-Olaf Meyneke is a Co-Chair for the EcoSummit 2021 being held on the Gold Coast 14 - 18 June. This is a major international congress for all scientists and practitioners working on topics related to sustainability. The conference series was founded in 1996 in Copenhagen, as a forum for scientists, practitioners, and policy-makers working across disciplines to solve the integrated environmental, social, and economic problems facing the world today.
EcoSummit 2021 will have a focus on coastal and marine ecosystems including adjacent terrestrial ecosystems and all habitats that are integrated within those ecosystems, including river networks, wetlands and catchments. EcoSummit 2021 information can be found here

GC Skyline -0018 - Copy

AFE/CRI Researchers and Industry unite to tackle housing affordability issues in Australia

In 2014, the National Affordable Housing Consortium and Griffith established a Knowledge Hub to facilitate practical, industry focussed research and policy development across the housing system. Since then, the Knowledge Hub has grown to include five full-time PhD students and one Research Fellow. A growing number of research outputs have been a major driving force in the establishment of the “Social and Affordable Housing Research Cluster” at the University.

As part of this initiative, the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics recently organised the ‘Griffith University-NAHC PhD Scholars Symposium’. Our PhD students, research fellow and CRI academics presented their research, which covered a broad range of topics, including build to rent and measuring housing affordability, green affordable housing policy, affordable housing investment structures and pathways, as well as methods for utilising Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence as a new tool measuring affordable housing demand in our cities.

The event was well attended by both academic and industry delegates including the Honourable Luke Howarth, Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services, and delegates from banking, development, community housing and several government sectors (Queensland Treasury, Department of Housing and Public Works).

For more information on the Griffith University Social and Affordable Housing Research Cluster, please visit the department website.

Where are they now?

We say farewell to Professor Chris Fleming, who has become the new Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism and wish him well in his new role.  We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Chris and his colleagues, not least in the development of a proposal for a new Cooperative Research Centre focussed on building resilience and helping recovery of the wide range of industries operating in Australia’s coastal zones.  If you would like to learn more about this exciting new initiative, please contact Paul Burton.

We also say a partial farewell to Dan Ware who takes up a new position with the Gold Coast Waterways Authority. Dan will become an Adjunct Research Fellow and continue to collaborate with colleagues on a raft of initiatives around coastal and waterways management.

Having been awarded her PhD last year, Dr Sima Vaez Eslami is now working for the Rural City of Mildura Council as a Strategic Urban Planner.  Sima provides feedback and recommendations to urban design consultancies on their master planning and undertakes research into regional and local factors affecting land use planning for the long-term vision of the city.  We wish Sima all the very best in her new career.

 Welcoming new members

Matthew Schneider, Director of Planning at Urbis Gold Coast and Dr David Spolc have become Adjunct Industry Fellows with the CRI. 

Matt is a highly respected planner on the Gold Coast, playing a leading role with industry bodies such as PIA and the UDIA and is currently a member of the Gold Coast Music Advisory Group and the Gold Coast Light Rail Business Advisory Group. As well as helping develop collaborative research opportunities, Matt will also allow us to strengthen connections between our planning students and planning practitioners. 

David is a highly experienced environmental planner who has worked previously for Logan and Brisbane City Councils. He is currently developing an automated carbon monitoring and emissions reduction application and will be working with various colleagues to explore the extension of green infrastructure through green roofs and walls within cities.


PhD candidate, Rebecca McNaught who is working on collaborative governance, recently published a blog titled: Is there an art to multi-stakeholder collaboration for resilient development in the Pacific region? Read blog post here

Transport team PhD candidate Benjamin Kaufman had a piece accepted for The Conversation on-demand transit, 1 million rides and counting: on-demand services bring public transport to the suburbs. Read here

Last December, transport PhD student Sima Vaez was interviewed about her research on city wayfinding. Read the article here

The Transport team is also celebrating the newly conferred Dr Nowar Raad Abdalmajeed. Huge congratulations and all the very best with your future endeavours Nowar.

Aside from undertaking her PhD, Melissa Jackson is working with Professor Brendan Mackey as part of the Griffith Climate Change Response Program (GCCRP) Tanna Safehouses Project.

Griffith University researchers from GCCRP, School of Engineering and Built Environment and CRI have been monitoring and evaluating the installation of 14 cyclone-proof shelters with associated solar power systems installed as part of the international recovery effort following cyclone Pam.

In November, Melissa designed and co-delivered a community-based training to 35 local villagers from Tanna Island Vanuatu on small-scale remote renewable (solar) power systems (see example photos attached). The training was delivered with their in-country partner in Bislama and local dialects of the Indigenous peoples of these very remote areas.  The aim was to improve sustainability of the infrastructure and empower the local community through knowledge and skills building of local people in the technologies being applied there.  It was very well received by community members, leaders and the local council of chiefs.  Further opportunities for expansion of the training and spin-off of best practice manual for the sector and INGOs have been discussed with the provincial government and national Vanuatu Department of energy who are keen to support further development and skills building across the sector.

Mel J teaching outside group_1MB
Mel j_Training Group Day 1
New HDR Publications

Exploring the emergence and governance of new cities in Accra, Ghana.
Prosper Issahaku Korah, Cities 99 (2020) 102639​
On a lighter note...


Griffith University Cities Research Institute
p: +61 7 555 27269
Nathan Campus - Sir Samuel Griffith Building (N78),level 3, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan QLD 4111
Gold Coast Campus - Building G51, Bridge Lane, off Edmund Rice Drive, Gold Coast QLD 4222
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