Cities, development and regional policy

Our team of academic experts seeks to identify key opportunities and use these to harness the potential of our society, both at a local and international level. Learn more about our team below.

Professor Sharon Biermann

Sharon BiermannProfessor Sharon Biermann leads PATREC, a partnership between three WA universities and three WA government departments that conducts collaborative, applied research and teaching in support of policy in transport and land use planning. In that role, Sharon develops, leads and manages PATREC research projects in the areas of integrated land use and transport futures; smarter personal travel decisions; integrated freight system optimisation; emerging technology and network optimisation and intelligence. Her specific areas of expertise include: scientific research leadership and management of integrated planning and infrastructure programs.

Professor Thomas Bräunl

Thomas BraunlProfessor Thomas Bräunl directs the Renewable Energy Vehicle Project (REV) as well as the Robotics & Automation Lab at The University of Western Australia. He performed several Electric Vehicle conversions, including a Lotus Elise, Hyundai Getz, a Sea-Doo Jet-Ski, and operates one of Western Australia’s largest EV charging networks with 24 AC and DC stations. He also developed autonomous vehicles based on a BMW X5 and a Formula-SAE car, linking Lidar and vision sensors. His research concentrates on deep learning methods for autonomous driving and hardware-in-the-loop simulations of autonomous vehicles. Thomas has held positions with Daimler/Mercedes-Benz, BMW Germany, BMW Technology of North America, and served as Technical Director of the West Australian Electric Vehicle Trial.

Professor Neil Foley

Neil FoleyProfessor Neil Foley Neil has worked in urban and regional planning practice for nearly 40 years, initially in local and State government, and since 2009, in consultancy. He has been a member of various State boards and committees, including as Presiding Member of the South-West Joint Development Assessment Panels (2011-2013), and currently serves on the State Records Advisory Committee and the Waste Authority.

Neil’s research interests are wide, but include the governance of planning, retailing and planning, open space planning, metropolitan planning, general urban planning issues, planning history and the intersection of waste management and the planning system.

Professor Anas Ghadouani

""Anas Ghadouani is Professor and Program Chair of Environment Engineering at UWA. Anas has over 25 years’ experience in research in water resources (water and wastewater), ecological engineering and environmental engineering, with a strong focus on industry-based research. Anas is an expert adviser to a number of industry organisations and funding bodies nationally and internationally.

Anas was a founding member and past Executive Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities. He has extensive experience in leading multidisciplinary projects nationally and internationally, in particular multidisciplinary research leading to best practice and policy outcomes for integrated water management in the planning of future cities.

Professor Fiona Haslam McKenzie

Fiona Haslam McKenzieProfessor Fiona Haslam McKenzie has extensive experience in population and socioeconomic change, housing, regional economic development and analysis of remote, regional and urban socioeconomic indicators. She has published widely and undertaken work for the corporate and small business sectors both nationally and in Western Australia, has conducted work for all three tiers of government, and since 2015 has been co-director of the Centre for Regional Development at The University of Western Australia.

Fiona is currently researching the socioeconomic impact of different workforce arrangements for the mining industry and uneven economic development in Western Australia, focusing on the key issues of competitiveness, resilience and spatial integration.

Professor Paul Plummer

Thomas BraunlI am currently Professor of Geography and Co-Director of the Centre for Regional Development at the University of Western Australia. I have previously held positions at the University of Calgary (Canada), University of Bristol (UK), University of Georgia (USA), and University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). I have also held visiting professorships at the University of Tokyo (Japan) University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) (USA) and Stanford University (USA). I have made foundational contributions to the theory and practice of spatial economic analysis, particularly as it applies to regional development. I have expertise in modelling complex dynamic systems and bringing evidence to bear on those models in policy relevant context. Beyond this I have extensive experience in both developing and testing models of resilience and competitiveness between people and places. Current Research Projects:

  1. Shocks, Stresses, and Recovery from Recession: Competition and Resilience acorss the Japanese Space Economy
  2. Evolutionary Dynamics and the Transformation of Rural Australia
  3. Evaluating Policy Effectiveness: The Experience of Japanese Nuclear Host Communities in an Uncertain World

Professor Matthew Tonts

Matthew TontsProfessor Matthew Tonts is Professor of Geography and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education. His research is focussed on matters related to regional development, including economic development, demographic change, and social wellbeing Matthew has made significant policy contributions in the area of regional workforce planning, economic strategy, and spatial planning. Matthew developed UWA’s research partnership with the Committee for Perth, which focuses on policy issues related to economic competitiveness, liveability, and social change.

Associate Professor Julia Powles

Shamit SaggarJulia Powles is an Associate Professor of Law and Technology at The University of Western Australia. Scientifically trained and experienced in national and international policy-making, Julia’s research focuses on civic and rights-based responses to emerging technologies. She is an expert in privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, and the law and politics of data, automation and artificial intelligence.

Regularly consulted on these issues by governmental agencies and lawmakers in North America and Europe, Julia is now focused on Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Rim as sites for innovation in tech regulation and governance. She has a particular interest in stimulating health, energy and bioscience innovation in a way that safeguards the public interest.

Prior to joining UWA, Julia held academic appointments at New York University, Cornell Tech and the University of Cambridge. She also worked in the Office of the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, in legal practice, as a contributing editor and policy fellow at The Guardian, as a bioscience researcher, and was a judicial associate in the Federal Court of Australia and Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Dr Judy Fisher

"" Dr Judy Fisher is Lead Expert for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Commission on Ecosystem Management Thematic Group Ecosystems and Invasive Species, which works with experts from 50 countries to implement a holistic approach to identify and respond to the negative impacts which invasive species may have on food security, food production, biodiversity, livelihoods, human health and wellbeing, in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems.

Judy has been elected by 130 governments to the 25 member IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel. She is also Co-Chair of the IPBES Indigenous and Local Knowledge Task Force, which works to incorporate indigenous traditional knowledge and local knowledge into all IPBES activities.

Dr Paul Maginn

Paul MaginnDr Paul J Maginn is Coordinator of the Master in Urban and Regional Planning program at UWA. Paul’s research interests/expertise include: (i) metropolitan planning and planning reform; (ii) urban regeneration; (iii) urban politics; (iv) local government representation; (iv) social/cultural aspects of suburbia; (iv) geographies and regulation of the sex industry; and (vi) the geographies of porn consumption and production.

Paul’s co-edited book, (Sub)Urban Sexscapes, won the 2016 Planning Institute of Australia’s National Award for Cutting Edge Research and Teaching. Paul is Editor-in-Chief of Australia’s leading urban studies journal, Urban Policy and Research, and a founding member of the Urban Broadcast Collective (@UrbanPodcasts). You can find him on Twitter at @Planographer and @SuburbanistaPod.

Dr Kirsten Martinus

Dr Kirsten Martinus Dr Kirsten Martinus has worked in city economic and business development for more than 18 years. Her work adopts a multi-scale spatial approach, focusing on the uneven distribution of resources as a means to understand the urban and socio-economic factors that increase economic competitiveness and mitigate uneven development. Since joining UWA in 2012, she has played a lead role in an industry-funded research agenda for Perth, Western Australia, and has worked with leading researchers worldwide to better understand the links between resource wealth, regional innovation and global competitiveness.

Kirsten has won several large competitive grants for her research including from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Federal Governments Smart Cities Smart Suburbs Program. She has an early career fellowship (DECRA) examining innovation in peripheral regions (in Australian and Japanese outer metropolitan and regional areas), and has been published widely in leading scholarly journals.

Dr Ram Pandit

""Dr Ram Pandit is an Environmental Economist and a Graduate Research Coordinator at the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment. He works as an expert on values with The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and recently contributed to its assessments on ‘land degradation and restoration’ and ‘biodiversity and ecosystem services in Asia-Pacific’. His research explores one or more dimensions of sustainability – economic, environmental and social – mainly in Australia and Nepal.

Ram’s research interest/expertise include: valuation of urban environment including greenspace and urban trees, economics of threatened species conservation and management including biodiversity offsets, protected area and tourism, economics of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries), economics of pollution, and land degradation and restoration.

Antoine Musu

Antoine Musu

Antoine Musu is a Lecturer at the UWA Business School. His research focuses on the impact and effectiveness of tourism policy development and strategy for sustainable tourism development and tourism success in regional Western Australia. His research findings have implications on the formulation and implementation of policy and attempts to seek effective ways to measure tourism success. His second area of research is the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Antoine worked in the Accounting and Business Advisory sector and the role rapidly developed into a long career in the Hotel, Private Club and Leisure industry in European and South East Asian cities, and in Australia. He lectures in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Commercialisation and Small Business, and is a member of the Founding Board of the Commercialisation Studies Centre. 


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Shamit Saggar, Director