Nihan Akyelken

Official Fellow

Associate Professor in Sustainable Urban Development

Department for Continuing Education


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 started working as a Departmental Lecturer on the Sustainable Urban Development Masters and Doctoral programme and in January 2017 was appointed as Associate Professor in Sustainable Urban Development. 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.


Nihan is part of the core team on the Masters and Doctoral programmes in Sustainable Urban Development. She is responsible for Research Methodologies stream of the courses. She is also teaching political economy of finance and investment in sustainable urban development, transport, inequalities and economic development.

Outside the Department for Continuing Education, she is teaching on the themes of infrastructure, development and finance, and governance and policy packaging for the professional course Global Leadership in Transport programme jointly run by the TSU and Saïd Business School.

Research interests

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):


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


Journal articles

Akyelken, N. (2015) Infrastructure development and employment: the case of TurkeyRegional Studies, 49(8): 1360-1373.

Schwanen, T., Lucas, K., Akyelken, N., Solsona, D.C., Carrasco, J.A. and Neitens, T. (2015) Rethinking the links between social exclusion and transport disadvantage through the lens of social capitalTransportation Research: Policy and Practice, 74: 123-135.

Akyelken, N. and Keller, H. (2014) Framing the nexus of globalisation, logistics and manufacturingTransport Reviews, 34(6): 674-690.

Akyelken, N. (2013) Development and gendered mobilities: narratives from the women of Mardin, TurkeyMobilities, 8(3): 424-439.

Book chapters

Akyelken, N. (2015) Innovations, policies and ideas – an urban mobility perspective. In: Condie, J. and Cooper, A. M. (eds.) Dialogues of Sustainable Urbanisation: Social Science Research and Transitions to Urban Contexts. University of Western Sydney.

Akyelken, N. (2013) Finance and investment. Chapter 9 in, Givoni, M. and Banister, D. (eds.) Moving Towards Low Carbon Mobility. Edward Elgar. pp. 129-147.

Akyelken, N. and Anderton, K. (2013) Changing the rules of the game: what is yours is mine! Social aspects of sharing practices in mobility. In, ICEIRD Conference Proceedings. pp. 311-323.

Akyelken, N. (2011) Distance in the existence of political pathologies: rationalized transport policies and trade. In, Button, K. and A. Reggiani (eds.) Transportation and Economic Development Challenges. Edward Elgar. pp. 72-84.

Bonilla, D. and Akyelken, N. (2011) Vision. In, Helmreich, S. and H. Keller (eds.) FREIGHTVISION – Sustainable European Freight Transport 2050: Forecast, Vision and Policy Recommendation. Springer. pp. 127-134.

Published reports

Akyelken, N., Anderton, K., Givoni, M., Kossela, S., Plepys, A., Salo, M., et al. (2015). Servicizing policy packages for the mobility sector. Deliverable 8.2 of Servicizing Policy for a Resource Efficient Economy (SPREE) – Funded by the European Commission 7th RTD Programme. Tel Aviv, Israel.

Akyelken, N. and Anderton, K. (2015) UK Mobility Report. European Commission. Deliverable 7.2 of the Servicizing Policy for a Resource Efficient Economy (SPREE) – Funded by the European Commission 7th RTD Programme. Oxford, UK.

Akyelken, N., Anderton, K., Mont, O., Plepys, A. and Kaufman, D. (2013) Mobility Report. Deliverable 5.1 of SPREE – Funded by The European Commission 7th RTD Programme, Oxford, UK.

Akyelken, N. Bonilla, D., Beullens, P., Kritzinger, S., Ries, J., Schmiele, J. and Weiss, L. (2011) Synthesis of Results and Policy Recommendations.. 74 pp. Deliverable 6 of LogMan – Funded by the European Commission 7th RTD Programme. Oxford, UK..

Helmreich, S., Akyelken, N., Bonilla, D., Düh, J. and Weiss, L. (2010) Recommendation of a vision and action plan for European RTD and Transport policy. European Commission. Deliverable 7.1 of FREIGHTVISION – Vision and Action Plans for European Freight Transport until 2050.

Book reviews

Akyelken, N. (2011) Review of: Coe, N. and Jones, A. (2011) The Economic Geography of the UK. Sage, LondonTransport Reviews, 31(5): 679-680.

Akyelken, N. (2011) Review of: McKinnon, A., Cullinane, S., Browne, M. and Whiteing, A. (2010) Green Logistics: Improving the environmental sustainability of logistics. Kogan Page Limited, LondonTransport Reviews, 31(4): 547-548.

Akyelken, N. (2009) Review of: Ison, S. and Rye, T. (2009) The way and means of transport demand managementBuilt Environment, 35(4): 593-595.