Dr Joanne M Leach BSc, MSc, PhD

Mrs Joanne M Leach

Department of Civil Engineering
Research Fellow

Contact details

Department of Civil Engineering
School of Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Between May 2012 and Christmas of 2017 Joanne Leach was a researcher on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded programme grant Liveable Cities, where she developed and applied an holistic, integrated, multi-disciplinary city analysis methodology that measures a city's performance with regard to wellbeing, resource efficiency and resilience, and carbon reduction. From June 2016, she 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.

From January 2018 she is focusing upon working within engineering to engender research integration and collaboration, embed interdisciplinary practices, and advance learning frameworks –  work which forms part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) – through her work with the UKCRIC Coordination Node and the UKCRIC laboratories pump-priming project 'Priming Laboratory EXperiments on infrastructure and Urban Systems' (PLEXUS).

Joanne Leach talks about 'Making Good Decisions' in relation to the Liveable Cities ESPRC-funded programme.


  • PhD in Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  • MSc (Distinction) in Design Management, University of Salford, Salford, UK, 2010
  • BSc (Hons) International Business with a minor in mathematics, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, USA, 1995


Joanne joined the University of Birmingham's School of Engineering (Department of Civil Engineering) in May 2008 to work on the EPSRC-funded research project: Sustainable Regeneration – from Evidence-based Urban Futures to Implementation. She is a highly experienced Programme Manager and researcher on cross-disciplinary research in sustainable urban environments (SUE) and has been involved in the high profile, EPSRC-funded SUE programme including SUE1: VivaCity2020, £2.9M; SUE2: Sustainable Regeneration, £3.1M; and the recently-completed programme grant: Liveable Cities, £6.3M. In and around these larger projects she has been involved in numerous other urban sustainability-related projects and initiatives, covering issues from crime to soundscapes. 

She has a keen interest in developing research outcomes that impact professional practice and policymaking. Joanne was involved in the UK Policy Commission on Future Urban Living (Chaired by Lord Shipley) and co-authored consultation responses on UK infrastructure (commissioned by Lord Armitt), the UK’s Sustainable Development Indicators (commissioned by defra) and the UK Lane Rental Scheme (commission by the Department for Transport). 

She is also interested in exchanging knowledge across countries, and is currently exploring collaborations with cities in India, Africa and Brazil.

Her current research focuses upon two interlinked areas. First, upon city measurement and diagnostics, incorporating the broad range of sustainability issues and future resilience. Second, upon interdisciplinary practices and ways of learning within the engineering disciplines, but reaching across all disciplines, particularly those associated with urban development and redevelopment.

Joanne is adept at working across disciplines (having done it for so long!) and working within multi-disciplinary research teams (from civil engineers to social psychologists) to address wicked problems such as sustainability, resilience and climate change mitigation.


Joanne supports Masters students and students undertaking their 4th year undergraduate projects within the School of Engineering as well as delivering lectures on sustainability.


Current research projects:

  • UKCRIC Coordination Node
    University of Birmingham
    January 2018 – March 2021

    The UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) is, with a (matched) capital investment of £138m from BEIS, creating world-class city observatory, modelling & simulation, and physical laboratory facilities across the UK. The Coordination Node is doing what it says on the tin: providing coordination and leadership of UKCRIC as a whole and its multidisciplinary research programme to ensure that UKCRIC’s vision, promise, and value as an inclusive collaboration are fully realised.

    University of Birmingham
    January 2018 – December 2019

    Priming Laboratory EXperiments on infrastructure and Urban Systems (PLEXUS) is a UKCRIC laboratories pump-priming project. This proposal aims to prepare for and use UKCRIC’s laboratory facilities for the ultimate purpose of developing UKCRIC’s research staff capacity & capability, and create a Common Vision, Strategic Research Agenda & Implementation Action Plan for the Laboratories Strand via three expansive yet interlinked critical technical infrastructure challenges. The three challenges are: (1) intense physical interdependency of urban infrastructure systems, with a focus upon integral bridges; (2) harvesting energy from buried infrastructure systems; and, (3) accelerated deterioration of infrastructure materials due to extreme loading.

Previous research projects:

  • Urban Living Birmingham Pilot Project
    University of Birmingham
    June 2016 - November 2017

    A £500,000, 18-month, EPSRC-funded pilot project to identify improvements to urban services by combining top-down urban governance with bottom-up lay and expert knowledge to provide an environment that emphasises and encourages innovations that generate a step change in urban service provision.

    See: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/P002021/1
  • Liveable Cities 
    University of Birmingham
    May 2012 – April 2017 with a no-cost extension to December 2017

    A £6.3 million, 5-year, EPSRC-funded programme grant to identify and test radical engineering solutions that will lead to low carbon, resource secure future cities in which societal well-being is prioritised.   

    See: www.liveablecities.org.uk
  • Sustainable Regeneration: from Evidence-based Urban Futures to Implementation
    University of Birmingham
    May 2008 – April 2012

    A £3.1 million, 4-year, EPSRC-funded research project that developed a 5-step method to test the future performance of urban development and regeneration-related ‘sustainability solutions’ – actions taken today in the name of sustainability – in a series of possible future scenarios. The method is supported by a web-based Interactive Tool.

    See: www.urban-futures.org.
  • Resilience Through Innovation: Critical Local Transport and Utility Infrastructure
    University of Birmingham
    November 2010 – April 2012, part time

    A £200,000, EPSRC-funded scoping project into the research needed to bring about radical changes in thinking and practice for an assured future in the face of multiple threats/risks. 
  • SUE Research Dialogues
    University of Birmingham
    January – June 2010, part time

    A six-month, £80,000, EPSRC-funded research project into developing the Sustainable Urban Environments (SUE) research community as funded via three calls from the EPSRC. 

    See: suedialogues.wordpress.com
  • Positive Soundscapes
    The University of Salford
    December 2006 – September 2009, part time

    A 3-year, £1 million, EPSRC-funded research project into what comprises a positive urban soundscape.  
  • VivaCity2020
    University of Salford and Lancaster University
    October 2003 – April 2008

    A £2.9 million, 5-year, EPSRC-funded research project that through innovative and interdisciplinary research developed a toolkit of resources that can be used to navigate urban sustainability issues. The toolkit addresses sustainability issues by encouraging decision-makers to think about sustainability in a user-centred, holistic way, identifying overlaps and trade-offs as the drivers of decision-making.

    See: www.vivacity2020.co.uk
  • Design Against Crime Solution Centre
    University of Salford
    February 2007– April 2008, part time

    A small portfolio of research projects exploring the issues around crime and fear of crime.
  • Inclusive and Sustainable Infrastructure for Tourism and Urban Regeneration (InSITU)
    University of Salford
    November 2005 – January 2007, part time

    A 15-month, £150,000, EPSRC-funded research project that developed and tested new tools and resources designed to deliver a more inclusive and sustainable infrastructure where tourism is being nurtured as a catalyst to regenerate disadvantaged areas that are rich in built heritage.  

    Prior to her work in academia, Joanne spent eight years working within a Manchester advertising and design agency after moving to the UK from America.


  • Leach JM, Rogers CDF (2019) Towards the establishment of a new transdisciplinary area of scholarship in infrastructure and cities: A literature review. London: UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities
  • Leach JM, Rogers CDF, Ortegon-Sanchez A and Tyler N (2019) The Liveable Cities Method: Establishing the case for transformative change for a UK metro. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Engineering Sustainability 173(1): 8-19, https://doi.org/10.1680/jensu.18.00028
  • Leach JM, Mulhall RA, Rogers CDF and Bryson JR (2019) Reading cities: Developing an urban diagnostics approach for identifying integrated urban problems with application to the city of Birmingham, UK. Cities 86: 136-144, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2018.09.012

  • Urry J, Leach JM, Dunn N, Coulton C and The Liveable Cities Team (2017) The Little Book of Car Free Cities. Lancaster: Imagination Lancaster, Lancaster University.

  • Leach JM, Lee SE, Boyko CT, Coulton CJ, Cooper R, Smith N, Joffe H, Büchs M, Hale JD, Sadler JP, Braithwaite PA, Blunden LS, DeLaurentiis V, Hunt DVL, Bahaj AS, Barnes K, Bouch CJ, Bourikas L, Cavada M, Chilvers A, Clune SJ, Collins B, Cosgrave E, Dunn N, Falkingham J, James P, Kwami C, Locret-Collet M, Medda F, Ortegon A, Pollastri S, Popan C, Psarikidou K, Tyler N, Urry J, Wu Y, Zeeb V, Rogers CDF (2017). Dataset of the livability performance of the city of Birmingham, UK, as measured by its citizen wellbeing, resource security, resource efficiency and carbon emissions. Data in Brief. 15: 691-695.

  • Leach JM, Lee SE, Hunt DVL and Rogers CDF (2017). Improving city-scale measures of livable sustainability: A study of urban measurement and assessment through application to the city of Birmingham, UK. Cities. 71:80-87.
  • Rogers CDF, Hunt DVL, Leach JM, Purnell P and Roelich KE (2017). Briefing: Resource scarcity and resource security – a suppressed civil engineering challenge. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Waste and Resource Management. 170(2): 1-4.
  • Boyko CT, Clune CJ, Cooper RFD, Coulton CJ, Dunn NS, Pollastri S, Leach JM, Bouch CJ, et al. (2017). How Sharing Can Contribute to More Sustainable Cities (2017). Sustainability. 9(5): 701.
  • Lee SE, Braithwaite PA, Leach JM and Rogers CDF (2016). A comparison of energy systems in Birmingham, UK, with Masdar City, an embryonic city in Abu Dhabi Emirate. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 65: 1299-1309.
  • Leach  JM, Braithwaite PA, Lee SE, Bouch CJ, Hunt DVL and Rogers CDF (2016). Measuring urban sustainability and liveability performance: the City Analysis Methodology (CAM). International Journal of Complexity in Applied Science and Technology (IJCAST). 1(1): 86-106.
  • Juned S, Leach JM, Boyko CT, Cooper R, Woodeson A, Eyre J, Rogers CDF (2015). Do sustainability measures constrain creativity in urban design? The Municipal Journal. Online: http://themj.co.uk/Do-sustainability-measures-constrain-creativity-in-urban-design/200996 22 June 2015.
  • Hale JD, Pugh TAM, Sadler JP, Boyko CT, Brown J, Caputo S, Caserio M, Coles R, Farmani R, Hales C, Horsey R, Hunt DVL, Leach JM, Rogers CDF and MacKenzie AR (2015). Delivering a Multi-Functional and Resilient Urban Forest. Sustainability 7:4600-4624; doi:10.3390/su7044600; http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/7/4/4600/html
  • Leach JM, Boyko CT, Cooper R, Woodeson A, Eyre J, Rogers CDF (2014). Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity? Proceedings of the ICE: Urban Design and Planning. 168(1): 30-41. DOI: 10.1680/udap.13.00034. Winner of the 2015 Reed Mallik prize for the best paper published in the journal that year. Most downloaded paper 2017
  • Leach JM, Bartle I, Hale JD, Bouch CJ, Boyko CT, Lee SE, de Laurentiis V, Cavada M, Locret-Collet M, Hunt DVL, Sadler JP, Rogers CDF (2015). Critical infrastructures and sharing: implications for UK centralised infrastructure systems. International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure, Washington D.C., USA, 14-15 September
  • Hunt DVL, Leach JM, Lee SE, Bouch CJ, Braithwaite PA, Rogers, CDF (2014). Material Flow Analysis (MFA) for Liveable Cities. The 4th World Sustainability Forum 1-30 November 2014 - Conference Proceedings Paper
  • Lee SE, Leach JM, Hunt DVL, Rogers CDF (2014). Material Flow Analysis: Outcome Focus (MFA:OF) for Elucidating the Role of Infrastructure in the Development of a Liveable City. ISNGI 2014. Vienna, 30 September – 1 October 2014.
  • Lee SE, Braithwaite PA, Severance S, Leach JM, Rogers CDF (2014) A Tale of Two Cities: A Study of the Energy Systems in Birmingham, an Industrialised City in central UK and Masdar City, a Developing City in the Middle East. CESARE 2014, Amman, Jordan, 24-27 April
  • Rogers C D F, Shipley J, Blythe P, Braithwaite P A, Brown C, Collins BS, Juned S, MacKenzie AR, Miller R, Pawlyn M, Price J, Swain C, Tight M R, Tindale S, Toyne P and Leach J M (2014), Future Urban Living – A Policy Commission Investigating the Most Appropriate Means for Accommodating Changing Populations and Their Needs in the Cities of the Future, University of Birmingham: UK. 60 pp. ISBN 978-0-7044-2843-0
  • Leach JM, Lee SE, Braithwaite PA, Bouch CJ, Grayson N, Rogers CDF (2013). What Makes a City Liveable? Implications for Next-Generation Infrastructure Services. In Infrastructue for a Better Future: A Forum for Vision, Leadership and Action. Wollongong, Australia, 1-4 October 2013. Wollongong: Smart Infrastructure Facility. 397 – 405
  • DR Lombardi, JM Leach, CDF Rogers, R Aston, A Barber, CT Boyko, J Brown, J Bryson, D Butler, S Caputo, M Caserio, R Coles, RFD Cooper, R Coyne, R Farmani, M Gaterell, J Hale, C Hales, CN Hewitt, DVL Hunt, L Jancovic, I Jefferson, AR MacKenzie, FA Memon, R Phenix-Walker, TAM Pugh, JP Sadler, C Weingaertner and JD Whyatt (2012).  Designing Resilient Cities: A Guide to Good Practice.  IHS BRE Press, Bracknell, UK
  • Hunt, D. V. L., Lombardi, D.R., Atkinson, S., Barber, A., Barnes. M., Boyko, C., Brown, J. Bryson, J., Butler, D., Caputo, S., Caserio, M., Coles, R., Cooper, R., Farmani, R., Gaterell, M, J. Hale, J., Hales, C., Hewitt, N., Jankovic, L., Jefferson, I., Leach, J.M., MacKenzie, A. R., Memon, F.A., Pugh, T.A.M., Sadler, J.P., Weingaertner, C., Whyatt, D. and Rogers, C.D.F. (2012) Using scenarios to explore urban UK futures: A review of the literature 1997 to 2011. CD ROM in: Lombardi et.al. (2012) Designing Resilient Cities: A Guide to Good Practice.  Bracknell, UK: IHS BRE Press.
  • Rogers CDF, Lombardi DR, Leach JM and Cooper RF. (2012) The urban futures methodology applied to urban regeneration. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Engineering Sustainability 165(1): 5-20
  • Boyko, C. T., Gaterell, M. R., Barber, A. R. G., Brown, J., Bryson, J.R., Butler, D., Caputo, S. Caserio, M., Coles, R., Cooper, R., Davies, G., Farmani, R., Hale, J., Hales, A.C., Hewitt, N., Hunt, D. V. L, Jankovic, L., Jefferson, I., Leach, J.M., Lombardi, D.R., MacKenzie, A.R., Memon, F.A., Pugh, T. A. M., Sadler, J.P., Weingaertner, C., Whyatt, J.D., & Rogers, C.D.F. (2012) Benchmarking Sustainability in Cities: The role of indicators and future scenarios. Global Environmental Change - 22 (1), 245-254 12/04/2011) (IF = 4.918, IF5 7.84)  doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.10.004
  • Hunt, D.V.L.; Lombardi, D.R.; Atkinson, S.; Barber, A.; Barnes, M.; Boyko, C.T.; Brown, J.; Bryson, J.; Butler, D.; Caputo, S.; Caserio, M.; Coles, R.; Farmani, R.; Gaterell, M.; Hale, J.; Hales, C.; Hewitt, C.N.; Jankovic, L.; Jefferson, I.; Leach, J; Mackenzie, A.R.; Memon, F.A..; Whyatt, D.; Weingartner, C. and  Rogers, C.D.F.;  (2012) Scenario Archetypes: Converging rather than Diverging Themes. In Sustainability journal 4 (4), 740-772; doi:10.3390/su4040740
  • Hunt, D.; Lombardi, R.; Atkinson, S.; Barber, A.; Barnes, M.; Boyko, C.; Brown, J.; Bryson, J.; Butler, D.; Caputo, S.; Caserio, M.; Coles, R.; Farmani, R.; Gaterell, M.; Hale, J.; Hayes, C.; Hewitt, N.; Jankovic, L.; Jefferson, I.; Leach, J.; Mackenzie, R.; Memon, F.; Pugh, T.; Rogers, C.; Whyatt, D.; Weingartner, C. Scenario Archetypes: Converging rather than Diverging Themes. In Proceedings of the 1st World Sustainability Forum, 1-30 November 2011; Sciforum Electronic Conferences Series. http://www.sciforum.net/presentation/720
  • Leach JM, Rogers CDF, Cooper R, Cooper I, Luger J (2010) Sustainable Urban Environments Research Dialogues.  University of Birmingham
  • Leach, JM.  2009.  Adapting design management tools and techniques to meet the needs of a small charity.  MSc dissertation, University of Salford: Salford, Greater Manchester

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