Senior Lecturer in Property and Planning, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Karen Vella is Senior Lecturer in Property and Planning at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

Areas of research interest include:

- Urban planning and sediment unlocking, mobilisation, and deposition into sensitive marine environments,
- protecting the Outstanding Universal Values (OUV) of the Great Barrier Reef,
- Governance systems analysis (GSA)
- natural resource management, sustainability, climate adaptation, community resilience, disaster recovery,
- frameworks, indicators, and methodologies to evaluate and improve planning processes, tools and outcomes
- social impact assessment and social resilience assessment
- Australian planning, Northern Australian planning,
- International comparative analysis (Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, Italy, Iran)
- Planning studio pedagogy and its use in contemporary planning curricula.

Recent publications include:

Vella, K., Butler, W., Sipe, N., Chapin, T., & Murley, J., (2016) Voluntary collaboration for adaptive governance: The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Journal of Planning Education and Research. (In Press)

Potts R, Vella K, Dale A, Sipe N, (2016) Exploring the usefulness of structural-functional approaches to analyse governance of planning systems, Planning Theory, 15 (2), p162-189.

Potts R., Vella K., Dale A., Sipe N, (2016) Evaluating governance arrangements and decision making for natural resource management planning: An empirical application of the governance systems analysis framework, Society and Natural Resources, Online (Online), p1-17, SJR: 0.763.

Potts RM, Vella KJ, Dale AP, Sipe N, (2015) A study of governance arrangements for land use and natural resource management planning in Cape York Peninsula, Australian Geographer, 46 (3), p389-409.

Vella KJ, Sipe N, Dale AP, Taylor BM, (2015) Not learning from the past: Adaptive governance challenges for Australian natural resource management, Geographical Research, 53 (4), p379-392.

Dale AP, Vella K, Cottrell A, (2015) Can social resilience inform SA/SIA for adaptive planning for climate change in vulnerable regions?, Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, 7 (1), p93-104.

Dale AP, Vella KJ, McKee J, (2014) Analysing governance of Australia's system of landscape-based greenhouse gas abatement, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 21 (4), p378-395.

For other publications see:,_Karen.html

Dr Vella can be contacted to discuss research and practice of governance and planning in urban and environmental contexts and for climate adaptation.

Dr Vella holds a Bachelor degree in Regional and Town Planing with Class 1 Honours from the University of Queensland and a PhD in Environmental Planning, also from the University of Queensland. Dr Vella has over 18 years experience in planning and governance, social science research, and research coordination through positions she has held for the Australian Government (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), the community-based NRM sector (Terrain NRM), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Griffith University, and QUT.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Property and Planning, Queensland University of Technology


  • 2004 
    University of Queensland, PhD Environmental Planning