Dr Nihan Akyelken

Profile details


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 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 teaching team on the Masters and Doctoral programmes in Sustainable Urban Development. She is responsible for Research Methodologies stream of the MSc course, which she directed in 2016-19. She is also teaching political economy of finance and investment in sustainable urban development, sustainability of mobility innovations, transport, inequalities and economic development.

Outside the Department, she is teaching on the theme of infrastructure, development and finance for the professional short course Global Leadership in Transport programme jointly run by the TSU and Saïd Business School. Previously, she has taught on the Final Honour School in Geography at the Oxford School of Geography and the Environment.

Doctoral students

Imogen Tyndale (2019-current) Home truths: Everyday experiences of housing inequality and the formation of urban perceptions of inequality in London

Marion Lagadic (2019-current) Leveraging perceptions and shared values to promote urban cycling : an analysis of cycling practices in the Greater Tokyo area

Deland Chan (2018-current) Sustainable for whom?: Tactics and Strategies for Inclusive Sustainable Development in San Francisco

Research interests

Nihan is an economic and social geographer, specialising in mobility of people and goods, inequalities and access, infrastructure, labour and work. Her research is based on both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and to date has addressed the following concerns:

  • Infrastructure, work and labour
  • Work, gender and mobility
  • Governance and social implications of low-carbon mobility innovations
  • Mobility of goods, globalisation and sustainability

Research projects since 2007:

  1. Everyday economy of infrastructure projects: Financial diaries of builder and providers of cities - Cases of Johannesburg and Istanbul, University of Oxford Fell Fund 2020-2021
  2. Knowledge Hub for Female Workers: A Pilot Project in Gaziantep, University of Oxford GCRF 2020-2021
  3. Co-researching mobility-related social exclusion in Istanbul, University of Oxford Public Engagement with Research Fund 2018-19
  4. Urban poor’s everyday mobilities and access to work in a climate change context, British Council Newton Fund 2015-17 (See: Sustainable Cities and Resilient Transport)
  5. Gendered commuting patterns, accessibility and inequality in industrial zones in Turkey, World Bank Turkey and Swedish International Development Agency 2014-15 (See: Women’s Access to Economic Opportunities)
  6. Resource-efficient economy, well-being and decoupling of growth in the EU, European Commission 2012-15   (See: SPREE)
  7. Governance of urban mobility innovations, UK Research Councils 2013-2015 (See: CIED)
  8. Theorising social exclusion, social capital and mobility capital, European Commission 2011-12 (See: TranSENDaNC)
  9. Wider economic impacts of transport infrastructure investments and gender inequalities in the labour market in Turkey, Doctoral research 2009-11 (See: Capital and Development in Social and Cultural Contexts)
  10. Globalisation, trade and sustainability of transport networks European Commission 2008-12 (See: Log-Man and Freightvision)
  11. Maximising the public policy impacts of social sciences and humanities British Academy 2007-08 (See: LSE Policy Study for the British Academy)

Nihan was also involved with the following projects in an advisory capacity:

  1. 2016-2017 ‘Moving to Access’: Governance and finance in urban accessibility – Brookings Institute Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative. Role: Advisory Board Member
  2. 2014-2016 Unequal mobilities in İstanbul: commuting patterns of domestic workers – Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Role: International Consultant

She currently sits on the Editorial Board of Transport Reviews.



Akyelken, N. (2023) Women, Work and Mobilities: The case of urban and regional contexts in Turkey. Routledge: Abingdon.

Journal articles

Akyelken, N. et al. (2023) Economic vulnerabilities and pandemic mobilities: Mobility of low-income populations in İstanbul during the Covid-19 pandemic. Habitat International 141 102903.

Akyelken, N. and Hopkins, D. (2022). Researching mobility in times of immobility. Transport Reviews 43(1): 1-4.

Journal articles

Akyelken, N. (2020) Transport for women: who decides what women need? Transport Reviews 40(6): 687-688.

Cohen, T. et al. (2020) A constructive role for social science in the development of automated vehicles. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives 6 (July 2020): 1-8.

Akyelken, N. (2020) Urban conceptions of economic inequalities. Regional Studies 54(6): 863-872.

Akyelken, N. (2020) Living with urban floods in Metro Manila: a gender approach to mobilities, work and climatic events. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2020.1726880

Akyelken, N., Givoni, M., Salo, M., Judl, J., Plepys, A., Anderton, K. and Koskela, S. (2018) The importance of institutions and policy settings for car sharing: Evidence from the UK, Israel, Sweden and Finland. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research 18(4): 340-359.

Schafran, A., McDonald, C., Morales, E.L., Akyelken, N. and Acuto, M. (2018) Replacing the services sector and the three-sector theory: Urbanization and control as economic sectors. Regional Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2018.1464136

Akyelken, N., Banister, D. and Givoni, M. (2018) Sustainability of shared mobility in London: the dilemma for governance. Sustainability, 10(2): 1-13.

Akyelken, N. (2017) Mobility-related economic exclusion: accessibility and commuting patterns in industrial zones in Turkey. Social Inclusion, 5(4): 175-182.

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

Lucas, K., Akyelken, N. and Stanley, J. (2019) Social assessment of transport projects in Global South cities using community perceptions of needs. In: Hickman, et al. (eds). A Companion to Transport, Space and Equity. Edward Elgar. pp. 180-195.

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. (2016) Organize sanayi bölgeleri’nde kadin istihdam yapisi ve erişilebilirlik : Afyonkarahisar ve Şanlıurfa (Turkish). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.

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.

Review articles

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.