Nihan Akyelken

Qualifications: DPhilMaster degrees
Affiliation: Departmental Lecturer, Sustainable Urban Development, University of Oxford, UK


Nihan joined the University of Oxford as a Research Fellow at the Transport Studies Unit in the School of Geography and the Environment in October 2008. In February 2015, she also started working as a Departmental Lecturer on the Sustainable Urban Development Masters and Doctoral programme. Previously, she worked at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Public Policy Group. She obtained her doctorate in Economic Geography from the University of Oxford, and her undergraduate and master degrees from the LSE in the areas of Economics and Philosophy and European Political Economy. In addition to working on research projects funded by the European Commission, the UK Research Councils, the Swedish International Development Agency, the British Council and the British Academy, Nihan has held academic awards from Wolfson College, Alan Nesta Ferguson Foundation, and the LSE Award Schemes. She is the winner of the 2015 OECD-ITF Young Researcher of the Year Award and was named as a World Social Science Fellow in Sustainable Urbanisation by the International Social Science Council in 2014.

Current research

Nihan’s research combines insights from economic geography, political economy and development planning. The empirical focus of her current research is on the governance of urban innovations, geographies of social vulnerability, infrastructure investments and local labour markers and political economy of work, space and inequality.
Her past and on-going research projects include (in descending chronological order):
• Framing social vulnerability in London (See: Sustainable Cities)
• Gendered commuting patterns and socio-spatial division of labour in Organised Industrial Zones in Turkey (See: Women’s Access to Economic Opportunities)
• Sharing economy, well-being and absolute decoupling of growth in the EU (See: SPREE)
• Governance of urban transport innovations (See: CIED)
• Social exclusion, social capital and mobility capital (See: TranSENDaNC)
• Socio-spatial aspects of labour markets and infrastructure investments (See: Capital and Development in Social and Cultural Contexts)
• Globalisation, regional political institutions, trade and transport networks (See: Log-Man and Freightvision)
• Maximising the public policy impacts of social sciences and humanities (See: LSE Policy Study for the British Academy)

Nihan is involved with the following ongoing projects in an advisory capacity:
• Unequal mobilities in İstanbul: commuting patterns of domestic workers – Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Role: International Consultant
• ‘Moving to Access’: Governance and finance in urban accessibility – Brookings Institute Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative. Role: Advisory Board Member