Meet our researchers

The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre unites academics across all disciplines to produce high-impact research and engagement with one of the world's fastest growing regions.

Browse for a member, and find out more about our researchers and what they do:


Dr Aim Sinpeng

Dr Aim Sinpeng

Southeast Asia has seen one of the highest growth in Internet access in the world. Dr Sinpeng's research focuses on how this rapid and sweeping digital transformation of Southeast Asian societies impact politics in the region. She is particularly interested in the role of social media in inducing political and social change. A 'social media ninja', Dr Sinpeng examines civic participation and political activism on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia. Despite her work online, she sees the cyber realm as deeply intertwined with the physical world. As such, maintaining deep connection with the region and conducting frequent fieldwork research in Southeast Asia remains a pivotal part of her research.

Supported by funding from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, Dr Sinpeng's project on digital activism and political opposition in Thailand has resulted in a number of journal articles and book chapters. The project has now expanded to include additional analysis on the role of online media in political opposition movements in Malaysia, Myanmar an the Philippines with collaborators from North America and Southeast Asia. Another major project, Wikipedia and Politics in Southeast Asia, in collaboration with Dr. Ying Zhou from the School of Information Technologies, examines the role of Wikipedia as a space for alternative political discourse in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Recognising the highly gendered and euro-centric nature of Wikipedia content, both researchers plan to launch edit-a-thons at major universities in Southeast Asia to improve female and non-European contribution on Wikipedia.

To improve the sharing of knowledge and fostering academic and student exchange on the issues of cyber security and Internet governance, Dr Sinpeng has co-founded the Sydney Cyber Security Network (SCSN) with Dr Frank Smith, with support from the NSW Ministry of Industry and the University of Sydney's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. SCSN is one of Australia's premiere cyber security research incubators that seeks to bridge the social-technical divide in academia, private sector and government.


Dr Rizal Muslimin

Dr Rizal Muslimin

Dr Muslimin joined the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning in early 2015 after finishing his doctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the field of Architecture: Design and Computation. Dr Muslimin practiced and taught architecture for ten years in Indonesia where he worked with several built-environment issues, such as low-cost housing, traditional settlement and socio-cultural facilities.

His research specialty is in ethnocomputation; a computational design study which focuses on the way in which humans reason and represent their relationship with the environment through various modes of sensing, making, and living, across scale and medium. The study aims to develop a body of knowledge about the design logic underlying cultural artefacts and investigate its ability to adapt and respond to the built environment.

Dr Muslimin is currently undertaking an ethnocomputation study on traditional crafts. Some of them are site-specific, such as in Toraja, Indonesia, where he is interpreting the design logic underlying the engraved Toraja Glyph (Passura’) and the way in which the embedded ritual messages are being visualised in the traditional settlement. The project aims to contribute a novel lens that adds to the appreciation and preservation of cultural knowledge through explicit representation.

He has also run a field schools and exchange programs in Indonesia. In collaboration with Institut Teknologi Bandung and the Australia-Indonesia Institute, Dr Muslimin led students to investigate issues faced by informal street vendors and create alternative deployable designs to enhance the vendors’ mobility and minimise conflict between public and private spaces within the city. In a more interdisciplinary line, Dr Muslimin also co-coordinated a Sydney Southeast Asia Centre field school on ‘Cultural Industries in Central Java’ supported by Universitas Gajah Mada in Yogyakarta, which highlighted contemporary issues in the Javanese cultural industry.


Dr Yayoi Lagerqvist

Dr Yayoi Lagerqvist

Dr Lagerqvist’s main research interest is on land use dynamics and rural livelihood change in mainland Southeast Asia. She joined the School of Geosciences in February 2010 after dedicating a decade working on research capacity building in Laos. Among the key research projects that she have been involved in the past include, research capacity building project at the National University of Laos funded by the International Development Research Centre of Canada, which focused on community-based natural resource management in Laos. Dr Lagerqvist has also led a study on land use and livelihood changes in northern Laos near the borders of China and Myanmmar funded by the Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in Demography (CICRED, France). The research was carried out in conjunction with regional research project in mainland Southeast Asia led by East West Center in Hawai'i, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and focused on the land use dynamics in the Golden Triangle.

Since 2012, Dr Lagerqvist has been working with the Sydney School of Public Health, the National University of Laos and the National Institute of Public Health on a research project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture, which focuses on assessing the linkages between resource development, rural livelihood and human well-being in Laos. The project aims to apply multi-scalar and multi-disciplinary approaches in understanding the patterns of resource development and its impact on natural resources, and livelihood conditions and opportunities of people in resource constrained context.

Dr Lagerqvist is the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s Lao Country Coordinator and has been leading postgraduate field schools focusing on sustainable development issues in Laos. The field school on sustainable development coordinated through the School of Geosciences has been running since 2013, and continues to expand. Currently, the field school involves students from various disciplinary area including environmental science, law, public policy, development studies, sustainability and public health. It is a unique field-based learning opportunity for professionally minded students to learn about the complex issue through in-country lectures and discussions with professionals, experts and community members.