Menu Close
Research Fellow, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham

Joanne Leach is a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, joining in 2008 as the Project Coordinator for Designing Resilient Cities. Dr Leach currently works as a researcher and project manager for the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), with an emphasis upon research integration, transdisciplinary working practices and the science of team science. Dr Leach’s research focuses upon urban liveability, resilience and sustainability – with a specific interest in the link between the built environment, infrastructure and wellbeing – and how these aspects can be usefully determined, measured and communicated to decision-makers.

Joanne was involved in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC’s) Sustainable Urban Environments (SUE) Programme, working with Prof Rachel Cooper on the 24-hour city (VivaCity2020, £3M) and Professor Chris Rogers on urban futures (Designing Resilient Cities, £3M). She was also part of the Liveable Cities Programme Grant (£6M), which put wellbeing at the heart of transforming how UK cities are engineered and for which she designed a substantive measurement and assessment tool to measure liveable-sustainability. Joanne was also part of the EPSRC-funded SUE Dialogues project, which assessed the efficacy of the EPSRC’s SUE programme. She has also been involved in numerous other urban sustainability-related projects and initiatives, covering issues from crime to soundscapes.

In 2016 and 2017, Joanne split her time between Liveable Cities and the Urban Living Birmingham pilot project (one of five Urban Living Partnership projects), where she focussed upon developing and applying an urban challenges diagnostics methodology that incorporated an evidence mapping approach.

During her time at the University of Birmingham, Joanne has collaborated with over 20 UK Universities and over 200 professional bodies, industry groups, industry research groups, government bodies and international partners. Selected examples include:

Was involved in the University of Birmingham Policy Commission on Future Urban Living, chaired by Lord Shipley.
Co-authored consultation responses on: Life beyond Covid (commissioned by the UK House of Lords Committee on Covid-19); Improving competitiveness – discussion paper on the Commissions Objectives (commissioned by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC); the link between infrastructure and the natural environment (commissioned by the NIC); UK infrastructure (commissioned by Lord Armitt); the UK’s Sustainable Development Indicators (commissioned by defra); the UK Lane Rental Scheme (commission by the Department for Transport); the PAS:182:2014 Smart City Concept Model; Ordnance Survey Products and Services Improvement.

Contributed to the Institution of Civil Engineer’s RDIEE panel shaping the R&D enabling fund call on engineering the future of cities, Birmingham Food Council’s Food and the City Economy report, Birmingham City Council’s Green Commission’s position paper on energy and resources and their HS2 Landscape and Environment Prospectus, Birmingham City Council’s Smart Commission, the Birmingham Science City Innovation and Low Carbon Working Group, and the London Quality of Life Report

Led workshops on planning for resilience with the Birmingham City Council Senior Leaders Group and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
Part of Knowledge Transfer Secondments with CH2M HILL and BRE, developing materials on urban sustainability and resilience
Co-authored a piece on designing liveable cities for the Centre for Alternative Technology’s 2013 Zero Carbon Britain Report
Co-authored Designing Resilient Cities, a Guide to Good Practice (IHS BRE Press)
Was lead author on ‘Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?’, winner of the 2015 Reed Mallik prize for the best paper published that year in Proceedings of the ICE: Urban Design and Planning
Before joining the University of Birmingham, Joanne was a research project manager at Lancaster University and the University of Salford, where she obtained her MSc in Design Management. She obtained her PhD in Engineering from the University of Birmingham on ‘Measuring City Performance and Diagnosing City Challenges: A Decision-Making Framework for Policymaking and Urban Design’.


  • –present
    Research fellow, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham


  • 2020 
    University of Birmingham, PhD in Civil Engineering