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Professor, School of Engineering and Built Environment, and Director, N79 Disaster and Resilience Management Facility (DRMF), Griffith University

Cheryl Desha is Theme Leader for the Cities Research Institute's 'Digital Earth and Resilient Infrastructure' research agenda (12 academics, 13 PhD candidates), and a Professor within the School of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University. She directs the Disaster and Resilience Management Facility (DRMF) in Griffith’s newest 6-storey AUD$70 million building ‘N79: Engineering Technology and Aviation’, and co-leads Griffith University's Disaster Management Network. She also sits on the Queensland Disaster Research Alliance (QDRA) as Griffith University's representative. Cheryl was awarded Engineers Australia's Queensland’s Professional Engineer of the Year in 2021 and in 2020 was awarded the Queensland Government's Individual Champion of Change Award by the Inspector General Emergency Management.

With the reality that "everything is connected and 'where' is critical to thriving, now and into the future", Cheryl is working towards resilient and regenerative cities through enabling evidence-based decision-making that is locally relevant. This involves industry and government partnerships to deliver right-time and right-place decision support, within the context of disaster management.

Cheryl's research journey has been inspired by the Cynefin Framework approach to decision making (by David Snowden), and Socio-technical Transition Theory (by Frank Geels). She also draws upon her technical training in nature-inspired (biomimetic), nature-loving (biophilic) and place-based (digital-spatial) design.

Cheryl is a Fellow and Chartered Member of Engineers Australia (FIEAust CPEng NER EngExec), and a Council member of the International Society of Digital Earth (ISDE) where she co-leads Working Group 2 'Industry Partnerships'. She is an Advisory Board member of the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), where she sits on the Disasters and Private Sector Network working groups.


  • 2018–present
    Director, Engagement (Industry), Griffith University
  • 2016–2018
    Head of Civil Engineering (Nathan Campus), Griffith University
  • 2012–2016
    Discipline Leader (Environmental Systems), Queensland University of Technology
  • 2011–2012
    Lecturer in Sustainable Development, Queensland University of Technology
  • 2005–2010
    Lecturer in Sustainable Development, Griffith University


  • 2014 
    Queensland University of Technology, Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice
  • 2010 
    Griffith University, PhD (Rapid Capacity Building)
  • 1999 
    Griffith University, Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental)

Professional Memberships

  • Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)
  • Institution of Engineers Australia (Chartered)
  • International Society of Digital Earth

Research Areas

  • Environmental Engineering Design (090701)
  • History And Theory Of The Built Environment (Excl. Architecture) (120502)
  • Environmental Technologies (090703)
  • Community Planning (120501)