Funded Research Projects for 2015

"To support academic, professional and public debate through public lectures and the publication of research that can beneficially transform current practice and encourage inspirational thinking about how to better manage urban and regional development."


Community engagement for the 'hard-to reach': Trialing participatory social network mapping in Tasmania ($27,895)

Associate Professor Susan Goodwin, The University of Sydney University
Dr Kathleen Flanagan, The University of Tasmania
Dr Julia Verdouw, The University of Tasmania

The issue of how to build community engagement and promote pathways to economic and social inclusion for the most excluded social groups is one of the most vexed areas of social policy. This project addresses this concern through an innovative approach designed to avoid ‘benevolent othering’ in areas where place-based stigma creates division and social exclusion that extend to within the neighborhood itself. The project combines volunteering with participatory community-based action research to develop a system map that extends asset-based community development approaches by identifying how networks operate as enablers and constraints through relationships of power, trust, conflict and collaboration.

Intersections of Stigma, Social Capital & Community Engagement in the Suburbs

Kathleen Flanagan et al.,
Intersections of Stigma,
Social Capital & Community
Engagement in the Suburbs


Assessing environmental impacts of major transport infrastructure projects: where does human health fit? ($24,291)

Dr Patrick Harris The University of Sydney University
Dr Jennifer Kent, Macquarie University
Associate Professor Peter Sainsbury, The University of Sydney University
Professor Fran Baum, Flinders University

This research investigates 'How, why, and to what extent, human health is considered in environmental assessments of major transport infrastructure projects?'. There is strong evidence of the links between transport planning and human health. Environmental Assessments (EAs) are a regulated mechanism for considering health in infrastructure planning but traditionally have not fully captured health issues. This research will develop four case studies of major transport EAs, three in NSW and one in South Australia, to explain how and why health was or was not included. The project will foster collaboration between two emerging research leaders from public health and planning.

Environmental Impacts of Major Transport Projects

Patrick Harris et al.,
Environmental Impacts
of Major Transport Projects

Visions of Sandstone: Reducing cost and increasing safety of heritage infrastructure inspection using aerial robotics. ($21,440)

Dr Rob Saunders, The University of Sydney University
Dr Simon Weir, The University of Sydney

Developing an advanced visual inspection tool for assessing the quality of ageing sandstone in public infrastructure. Applying off-the-shelf quad copters equipped with high-resolution cameras to the problem of inspecting the built fabric of ageing infrastructure, we can increase efficiencies of maintenance work. The project was developed after discussions with sandstone section of the New South Wales Department of Public Works, and has been tailored to the specific needs of sandstone inspection, but many of the project details can be readily adapted to similar surveillance conditions.


Urban Housing Lab@Sydney: Predictive analytics and policy platform for Sydney's housing market. $439,589 (over 3 years)

Dr Nicole Gurran, Urban and Regional Planning, FADP
Dr Somwrita Sarkar, Design Lab, FADP
Dr Jennifer Kent, Urban and Regional Planning, FADP
Ms Catherine Gilbert, Urban and Regional Planning, FADP
Ms Stacey Miers, Design Lab, FADP
Mr Hanley Weng, Design Lab, FADP

Housing is a central component of urban infrastructure, yet provision of appropriate and affordable housing near transport and jobs remains a key challenge. Addressing this challenge depends on better understanding the mechanics of the housing market and how policy interventions – like urban planning – might enhance housing outcomes. Building on the big-data capacity of UrbanLab@Sydney, this Incubator constructs a research platform for examining housing market dynamics in Sydney and potential levers for change. Research fostered within the Incubator will connect to wider scholarship on planning, infrastructure, the market and big-data analytics while distilling key implications for urban policy and practice.

Two opportunities currently exist for joining the Urban Housing Lab initiative;

  • PhD scholarship
    A PhD candidate is sought to work within the Urban Housing Lab at the University of Sydney on a three year project investigating housing market dynamics and policy responses. The PhD candidate will be responsible for examining the preferences and constraints faced by specific segments of Sydney's housing market as well as the range of existing and potential policy levers to increase housing choices. In addition to data collected for the specific PhD study (which might include qualitative and or quantitative sources), the candidate will have access to a growing data set within Urban Housing Lab, collected as part of the wider project. Applicants should have academic qualifications in a relevant discipline such as urban planning, sociology, economics, property/real estate studies, or urban geography. An honours degree is highly desirable, as is professional experience. The scholarship is available to domestic candidates only, at the University of Sydney full time scholarship stipend rate of $25,392 (2014), tax free. For further information about University of Sydney Postgraduate Award conditions, see
  • Practitioner in Residence
    The Henry Halloran Trust at the University of Sydney is inviting applications from experienced practitioners, policy makers, or industry leaders with expertise in one or more of the following fields: urban planning, the housing market, housing development, or demographic analysis to spend a period of time working with researchers in the University's Urban Housing Lab@Sydney. Under the Trust's Practitioner in Residence Program, the successful applicant will undertake a period of supported research on a project that will contribute to the work of the Urban Housing Lab. For instance, the project could address trends and pressures affecting Sydney's housing market; the planning system and housing outcomes; international housing investment patterns and implications; or new forms of housing design, construction/provision and the policy settings needed to support these innovations. The resident will have access to the growing data set maintained by Urban Housing Lab and there is potential to draw on the expertise of the Lab to harvest new data of support the specific project. The practitioner-in-residence will be supervised by Associate Professor Nicole Gurran in collaboration with the Coordinator of the program, Dr Michael Bounds. The Practitioner will write a short and accessible monograph at the conclusion of their residency. The practitioner will also be required to deliver a public lecture on their findings. A contribution of up to $10,000 is available to support the residency where the applicant is unable to access other funds (such as a period of negotiated leave from their substantive role). The period of residency is negotiable within a minimum of one month and a maximum of three months (full time). Prospective applicants will need to submit their CV along with a brief (maximum two page) outline of their intended project. Applicants are invited to discuss their intended projects with Associate Professor Nicole Gurran prior to submitting the application.