Dr Helen Zheng

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

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I joined The University of Manchester as a Research Associate in 2017. In 2019, I was awarded an Early Career Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust, and am the Principal Investigator on a three-year research project - 'Can spatial decentralisation achieve sustainable urbanisation?'.  

The first strand of my research focuses on sustainable urbanisation in China. I apply research methods such as spatial analysis, statistical modelling, and big data analytics to understand various issues such as green infrastructure planning, community well-being, mobility, and jobs-housing relationships in the context of rapid urbanisation in China. For example, in the ESRC-NSFC Newton Fund project ‘Eco-urbanisation in China’, I acted as a researcher, working with Professor Cecilia Wong and other colleagues, to examine the underlying dynamics of urbanisation and spatial variations of commuting patterns, green infrastructure, neighbourhood environment, and community well-being over different types of neighbourhoods in the Beijing Metropolitan Region, especially those suburban neighbourhoods formed in the 1990s and 2000s under the rapid urbanisation process. In another ongoing project (the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship project), I am investigating the changing spatial interactions of residence and employment, residents’ mobility, and the underlying factors by using the Tongzhou Sub-centre of the Beijing Metropolitan Region as a revealing case. 

The second strand of my research points to decision-making support by developing different indicators and simulation models with the support of various data. In this area, I use dynamic modelling, simulation methods, and quantitative indicators to support decision and policy making at different spatial scales. For example, in an ongoing research project, I am working with colleagues from other disciplines to draw together and synthesise data from the transport and other relevant domains to create an interactive ‘digital transport twin’ for Greater Manchester to enhance decision-making, including policy, industry and public decisions in the transition to net-zero carbon by 2050.




Education / academic qualifications

  • 2017 - Doctor of Philosophy, A Multi-scale Decision Support Framework for Sustainable Urban Renewal in High-density Cities: A Case of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2012 - 2017)
  • 2012 - Bachelor of Science, Urban and Rural Planning, Nanjing University (2008 - 2012)

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