Meet the Team

Our team is a consortium led by the University of Birmingham (UoB) in collaboration with the University of Auckland (UoA) (department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) (Department of Civil Engineering) and the International Road Federation (IRF) (Geneva). The UoB team is led by its Department of Civil Engineering’s Roads Group, together with the School of Physics and Astronomy and its International Development Department.

Dr Michael Burrow, the Team Leader, is a Reader in Infrastructure Asset Management within the department of Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham with a research specialism of pro-poor risk-informed infrastructure asset management.  Michael has gained considerable experience over the last 20 years leading multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary applied road research and capacity building projects with partners from over 23 countries.  Amongst the on-going applied road research projects he leads in LICs are those for the Ethiopian Road Authority, the Gambia National Roads Authority, the Ministry of Public Works, Liberia and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority.  Michael has intimate knowledge of building capacity in LICs / LMICs, not only through the above projects, but he has since 2008 been the director of the School of Engineering’s Masters in Road Management and Engineering (RME), many of whose graduates occupy leading positions in road authorities worldwide.  His applied research is underpinned by the fundamental research undertaken by a cohort of over 20 PhD students. Michael has published over 100-peer reviewed infrastructure research publications and 30+ professional reports. More details on Michael’s work can be found at:

Prof Nicole Metje, the Team Leader, is Professor of Infrastructure Monitoring at the University of Birmingham, UK. She is the Head of Enterprise, Engagement and Impact within the School of Engineering and the Director of the National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF) part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities. An international leader focussing on the development and use of sensing technologies to see through the ground and assess the condition of infrastructure assets. Professor Metje leads the Geophysics research of the Birmingham-led Quantum Technologies Hub for Sensors and Timing. Nicole works closely with industry through twelve jointly funded research projects developing sensors and novel processing methods to see through the ground and to ensure that any excavation is safer and results in fewer delays. Prof Metje is a Member of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She leads the UK’s contribution to the ASCE Utility Standards and the US Transportation Research Board Utility Committees, was the only academic on the BSI’s PAS128 and PAS256 Steering Committees, is a member of the ICE’s Municipal Expert & Geospatial Engineering Panels and the ICES’ Utilities and Subsurface Mapping Panel. Her paper on assessing the impact of Pas128 in the UK has won the ICE’s James Hill prize in 2021. More details on Nicole’s work can be found here:

Dr Theuns Henning is the UoA lead, is a senior lecturer and an international leader in his field, affecting how agencies plan maintenance and renewals on roads, how they collect condition data, the material they use and how they manage maintenance contracts. He is the founding Director of the New Zealand Climate Adaptation Platform, in this capacity, he focuses on brining technologies and asset management principles into the climate adaptation strategies of countries.  He is leading asset analytics for agencies including the NZTA in the long-term investment planning of their infrastructure. He also has a significant international profile. He has completed a number of research projects for the World Bank, including in Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, Azerbaijan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands.

Professor Ratnasamy Muniandy is the UPM lead. He has 27 years research and teaching experience in Highway and Transportation Engineering. He is a vice president of the Asian Pavement Engineering Society and specialises in working with industry and road authorities to develop innovative climate resilient and sustainable road technologies with a focus on asphalt, road pavement layers and recyclable waste materials. His research developed the FMA material to be assessed in the project. He has worked with partners in six countries on topics including the development of new road patching materials (Australia), binder and mix evaluation for  airport runway projects in Indonesia, runway Core sample interface shear bond analysis (Singapore), axle load spectrum analysis for the Malaysian Expressway, runway asphalt mixture and core specimen evaluation, the assessment of quarry aggregates for use in road construction, the development of synthetic fibre based asphalt technology, rutting assessment on the Malaysia PLUS Expressway, pavement modelling work on failed roads in Sabah.

Mrs Susanna Zammataro, our team’s dissemination expert is the Director General of International Road Federation (IRF) and is responsible for developing and implementing strategic plans for the IRF. As the Co-Chairperson of the “Safer Roads and Mobility” – the infrastructure Pillar of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration Group (UNRSC), she has been coordinating research and knowledge dissemination activities for UNRSC. She has recently supported both research and the development of the knowledge portal of the EU-funded Safer Africa project. She acts as the key liaison officer with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and is a member of the TRB International Cooperation Committee. She has been Theme Champion for Environment and Climate Change for the Global Transport Knowledge Practice (gTKP), a multi-year research and knowledge & dissemination programme funded by UK-aid.

Mrs Zenobia Ismail has several years of experience in quantitative and qualitative research.  She has been involved in impact evaluations and public opinion research in various African countries including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi.  She is in the final stages of completing a doctorate in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.  Before this she was a researcher at the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg.  She worked on research projects relating to disability, cash transfers and voting behaviour.  In addition, she was responsible for leading a panel data analysis of the National Income Dynamics Survey.   She also worked with the Afrobarometer research programme for three years based at Idasa, South Africa where she was responsible for managing survey data collection in southern Africa and outreach co-ordination across all the countries in study.  Before moving into social research, she was a lecturer at the School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand.  Zenobia holds two masters degrees in African Studies (University of Oxford) and Management (London School of Economics).

Dr Gurmel S Ghataora, the team’s materials expert, holds a PhD in geotechnical engineering. He has been working in the geotechnical Engineering industry and academia for 47 years (in academia for the last 29 years). He has extensive international experience of materials testing (both laboratory and field), ground improvement, use of out-of-specification materials in construction and the improvement of roads and railways, extensive laboratory research. Gurmel runs a number of laboratory testing contracts for the industry which seek to understand how new materials for roads & railways reduce damage to subgrade soils. He has published two books on materials and transportation geotechnics respectively and has also published several book chapters. He has over 140 peer reviewed journal and conference papers, a substantial number of these are on materials and materials testing for roads and related topics.

Dr Carl Wheldon our team’s nuclear physicist, is a Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Physics and Co-Director of the Birmingham Cyclotron Facility. Dr Wheldon will also lead operations at the new accelerator-driven neutron irradiation facility, currently being built at the UoB. Dr Wheldon’s expertise is predominantly in nuclear physics – this covers many areas including curiosity driven research into the origin of elements using particle and gamma-ray spectroscopy, applications involving isotope development and production for medical and industry uses, and detector testing and machine learning algorithm innovations.

Dr Mehran Eskandari Torbaghan, the project research advisor, is a Lecturer in Infrastructure Asset Management at the Department of Civil Engineering. His Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) focused in risk management and linear infrastructure systems from University of Birmingham. Mehran spent five years in the civil engineering industry, as a geotechnical engineer, before returning to academia to study a Master in Construction Management and then the PhD both at the University of Birmingham. He then worked as a research fellow for around five years, before becoming a lecturer, at the same University of Birmingham. He was also a visiting research fellow at the University of Nottingham. Mehran has been engaged in supervising a number of PhD students. His research portfolio and interest lie in the field of smart management of infrastructure systems, investigating the application of robotics and autonomous systems for condition monitoring and repair of urban infrastructure.

Dr Esdras Ngezahayo is a Research Fellow and Project Manager on the CRISPS project. After his first degree in civil engineering and environmental technology, he went on to read for both his Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees at the University of Birmingham, specialising in Geotechnical Engineering.  His PhD research focused sustainable and climate resilient materials for roads and railways, leading to a PhD thesis on “Erodibility of Soils in Rural Roads”. With over 12 years of academic experience coupled with industry consultancy activities, Esdras has taught different subjects in civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, and road engineering and management. He has trained, assessed, and supervised several undergraduate and postgraduate students; and has contributed over 20 research papers and technical reports. His research recently won an award for the PIARC UK competition in the category of “Roads Adapting to a Changing World” and was awarded in a Ministerial presentation. Before joining CRISPS, he investigated on stabilisation of ballasted railways using geotextiles to reduce sub-ballast flow, prevent pumping of clay and improve drainage conditions. His role with CRISPS involves development of quality control anti-fraud systems assessing the applicability of FTIR and FNAA approaches for quality control of epoxy modified binder, HDM-4 calibration and LCCA of MECS, MEAS and FMA pavements, reporting and research dissemination, and contributing to the overall project management.

Dr William Avis. William joined GSDRC at the University of Birmingham in June 2015 from the Overseas Development Institute. He spent four years with ODI in various research roles, most recently with the growth, poverty and inequality team. William’s research interests include identity and conflict, globalisation and political voice. His PhD examined constructions of Assamese identity in post-independence India (University of Sheffield). William works closely with the CRISPS team to develop and deliver impact activities including stakeholder mapping, reading packs, policy briefs and the end of project policy dialogue.