UCL Grand Challenges


Who we are

The academic direction of the UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities is led by the Working Group, supported by the co-ordinator.

Since the establishment of this Grand Challenge many alumni and supporters have contributed time, energy, money and academic leadership to its development.

Working Group

The Co-Chairs of the Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities Working Group are:

Professor Peter Jones

Peter Jones is Professor of Transport and Sustainable Development in the UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering. Before joining UCL in 2005, Peter was director of the Transport Studies Group at the University of Westminster. He is a member of the Independent Transport Commission, the London Roads Task Force and Chair of the RGS-IBG Transport Geography Research Group. He is Overseas Special Advisor to the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences, Japan, and a member of the International Steering Committee for the International Travel Survey Conference and a member of the Technical Committee of the South Africa Transport Conference. He has also acted as a consultant to Transport for London, the European Commission and several national and local governments.

Dr Barbara Lipietz

Barbara Lipietz is an Associate Professor in the Development Planning Unit. She directs DPU’s MSc in Urban Development Planning and convenes the DPU Research Cluster on Urban Transformations. She is part of the UCL Urban Lab Steering Committee and a member of the Urban Planning Advisory Group (UPAG) which reports to UNISDR's Special Representative of the Secretary General. She is editor of the 'Forum' section of the journal CITY. She works with a number of international organisations including UNISDR, Habitat International coalition (HIC), Metropolis, Just Space (London), the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR), the Community Architects Network (CAN), Homeless People's Federation and Community Initiatives (Tanzania), the Philippine Alliance, Spaces for Youth Development (Nigeria), Genre en Action and Alternatives Pour des Projets Urbains Ici et à l'International (APPUII).

Research expertise in the working group comes from centres of expertise as diverse as education, engineering, urban planning and the environment.

Download the Terms of Reference for the Grand Challenges Working Groups.

Dr Becca BurnsStrategic Research Facilitator
UCL Environment Domain
Dr Ellie CosgraveLecturer in Urban Innovation and Director of UCL City Leadership Laboratory
Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy
Prof Nick Gallent
Professor of Housing and Planning
The Bartlett School of Planning
Andrew HuddartPrincipal Partnerships Manager (New Technologies, Energy & Engineering Sectors)
Richard JacksonDirector, Sustainability
Sustainable UCL
Prof Peter Jones* Professor of Transport & Sustainable Development
Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering
Dr Avril KeatingSenior Lecturer: Comparative Social Science
UCL Institute of Education
Dr Barbara Lipietz*Associate Professor
Development Planning Unit
Prof Florian Mussgnug
Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian Studies
School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS) 

Dr Kat Nilsson

Director of Museums & Cultural Programmes
UCL Culture

Dr Ann ThorpeInnovation and Development Manager
UCL Innovation and Enterprise
Dr Joanna Williams

Senior Lecturer
The Bartlett School of Planning

* Working Group Co-Chair

Office of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research)

The working group meetings are also attended by OVPR staff including:

  • Sarah Chaytor, Director of Research Strategy and Policy
  • Dr Ian Scott, Director of Grand Challenges & Cross-Disciplinary Development
  • Dr James Paskins, Deputy Director, UCL Grand Challenges
  • Katherine Welch, Head of External Engagement and Partnerships
  • A representative of the SLASH & IOE Research Facilitation Team
    • Jacob Leveridge, Deputy Director of Research Facilitation
    • Steve Morrison, School Research Facilitator


Sophie Mepham is the coordinator of the Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities. Contact her with your questions, proposals and ideas, to take the Grand Challenge forward.

Email: sophie.mepham@ucl.ac.uk