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Dr Cheryl Desha

Science and Engineering Faculty,
Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences,
Environmental Systems


Dr Cheryl Desha
Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Development
Science and Engineering Faculty,
Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences,
Environmental Systems
Discipline *
Environmental Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning, Curriculum and Pedagogy
+61 7 3138 4072
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Identifiers and profiles

PhD (Griffith University), Bachelor of Engineering (Griffith University)

Professional memberships
and associations

Leader, Environmental Systems Discipline, Science and Engineering Faculty

Sustainable Community Infrastructure Theme, Institute for Future Environments

Research Principal, The Natural Edge Project (2002 – Present)

Chartered Member (Academic), Engineers Australia (1999 – Present)

Sustainable Engineering Society (SENG) (1999 – Present)


biomimicry, curriculum renewal, education for sustainability, engineering education, green building, resource productivity, sustainability, sustainable development, whole system, whole system design

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Dr Desha is a Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Development and Discipline Leader for Environmental Systems in the Science and Engineering Faculty. Dr Desha’s research focuses on methods and technologies for developing transformational solutions to complex problems in the built environment. This spans whole system thinking, biomimicry, resource productivity, decoupling and sustainable business practice, to foster urban nature for resilient and liveable cities. With the team from The Natural Edge Project research group she has co-authored more than 100 publications including 7 books, 2 of which have been listed in the top 40 publications by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Since joining QUT in 2011, Dr Desha has led QUT’s involvement in three core ‘Greening the Built Environment’ projects within the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre. In 2013 she led a 6-university consortium in developing innovative energy efficiency capacity building resources for engineering. Dr Desha and her team have received a Vice Chancellor’s Performance Award (2012). She is a member of IFE’s Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities theme leadership group.

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Cheryl_Desha?ev=hdr_xprf 

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/pub/cheryl-desha/b/9/898

QUT EPrints: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/Desha,_Cheryl.html


Relevant Awards:

2014: Alumni of the Year Award (Moreton Bay College)

2012: Research Supervision Award (Science and Engineering Faculty)

2011: Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence

2010: Teaching and learning medal (Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology Group, Griffith University

2009: Teaching Commendation (Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology Group), Griffith University


Dr Desha is currently guest editing a Special issue for  “Smart and Sustainable Built Environment” Journal (SASBE) 

The Call for Papers for: Urban Nature for Resilient and Liveable Cities is seeking case studies/ concepts/ theories relating to biophilic urbanism (Nature Loving Cities). Submit by 31 October 2015, Max 5,000 words

This information has been contributed by Dr Cheryl Desha.


Higher Research Degree Supervision

Dr Desha supervises higher research degree candidates (PhD and Masters by Research) in various transdisciplinary fields including biophilic urbanism (nature-loving cities), ecosystem services, policy and planning, whole system thinking, low carbon public procurement, lean thinking, project management for sustainable outcomes, driving sustainable innovation in the water sector and design innovation. The majority of this supervision involves qualitative phenomenological case study research and a mixture of PhD by publications and traditional manuscripts. Students are also encouraged to engage with end-users and their community of practice (domestic or internationally) during their candidature, to build networks and seek emerging consensus on their research topic during studies.

Unit Convenorship

2013 – 2015: Global Environmental Issues (EVB201, Semester 1)

2013 – 2015: Urban and Natural Systems (EVB301, Semester 2)

2011 – 2015: Sustainable Practice in the Built Environment & Engineering (BEN710) (Postgraduate, Semester 2)

2004 – 2010: Environmental Management Systems (postgraduate & undergraduate)

2004 – 2010: Whole System Design (undergraduate, on-campus)

2004 – 2010: Introduction to Sustainable Development (undergraduate, on-campus)

2005 – 2007: Principles & Practices of Sustainable Development (undergraduate, on-campus)

2004 – Present: A variety of continuing professional development (CPD) short-course intensives and internal training on resources developed through The Natural Edge Project (http://www.naturaledgeproject.net ‘curriculum & course notes’)

This information has been contributed by Dr Cheryl Desha.


After graduating in 1999 from Griffith University’s Environmental Engineering degree program (First Class Honours) and receiving a University Medal and Environmental Engineering medal, Dr Desha worked for consulting engineering firm Arup for four years, also undertaking placement within the Queensland government. In 2003 Dr Desha joined the research team ‘The Natural Edge Project’ (TNEP an Australian based, non-profit, sustainability think-tank) in formal collaboration with Griffith University as a lecturer in the School of Engineering. She then helped move TNEP from Engineers Australia to Griffith University in 2007, where she became a full member of the Urban Research Program. In 2011 Dr Desha accepted a position at QUT while the TNEP hosting transitioned to QUT, the University of Adelaide and Curtin University.

Together with the TNEP team, Dr Desha has developed a range of projects focused on education and training for sustainable development, including working with universities, professional bodies, government agencies, companies, schools and touring international keynote speakers including Hunter Lovins, Janine Benyus and Alan AtKisson. Dr Desha has worked with a range of international partners such as UNESCO, UNEP, Wuppertal Institute, University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, World Federation of Engineering Organisations, Chicago Climate Exchange, World Federation of Engineering Organisations, and the Rocky Mountain Institute. In Australia organisations include ANU, Monash, CSIRO, Engineers Australia, Purves Environmental Fund, Townsville City Council, National Framework for Energy Efficiency, HP, UniSA, KBR, VicUrban, Hatch, RMIT, GHD, QUT, and the Queensland government.

This information has been contributed by Dr Cheryl Desha.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.