Personal details

Adjunct Associate Professor Cheryl Desha
Adjunct Associate Professor
Science and Engineering Faculty,
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Discipline *
Environmental Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning, Curriculum and Pedagogy
+61 7 3138 2261
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PhD (Griffith University), Bachelor of Engineering (Griffith University)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Sustainable Community Infrastructure Theme, Institute for Future Environments
  • Research Principal, The Natural Edge Project (2002 – Present)
  • Chartered Member (Academic, 2014), 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


Associate Professor Cheryl Desha holds an adjunct position with the Queensland University of Technology, in conjunction with her ongoing appointment at Griffith University. Her 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 her research colleagues in Australia and overseas 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.


This information has been contributed by Adjunct Associate Professor Cheryl Desha.


Higher Research Degree Supervision:

PhD and Masters by Research in various trans-disciplinary 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 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.

All research enquiries should be emailed with an attached 2-page word document outlining the proposed Title, Context for Research, Research Problem, Preferred Research Methods and Potential Timeline. In-text citations should also be used to demonstrate research capabilities.

This information has been contributed by Adjunct Associate Professor 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, Associate Professor (A/Prof) Cheryl Desha worked for consulting engineering firm Arup in the sustainability team.

In 2003 she 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 helped move TNEP from Engineers Australia to Griffith University in 2007, where she joined the Urban Research Program.

In 2011 A/Prof 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, she has developed a range of projects focused on education and training for sustainable development, including the ‘Energy Efficiency Education Resources for Engineering’ (EEERE) project funded by the federal Department of Industry.

In 2016 A/Prof Desha transitioned to an Adjunct appointment at QUT, returning to Griffith University as Head of Civil Engineering (Nathan Campus), and joining the Cities Research Institute Executive Group. She continues to collaborate with QUT colleagues in the energy efficiency and biophilic research agenda, with government and industry partners including the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Queensland Health, Lendlease, Grow Collective and the Horticulture Innovation Australia fund.

A/Prof Desha has previously 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 Adjunct Associate Professor Cheryl Desha.


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