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 Senior Lecturer within the department of Civil Engineering at the UoB 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.


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 is the project manager and research fellow on the CRISPS project at the University of Birmingham, conducting a life cycle analysis of the two different surfacing technologies under a variety of traffic,
environmental, maintenance and budget scenarios which are prevalent in Ethiopia. Mehran principal research interest lies in the field of smart management of infrastructure systems, investigating the application of robots and autonomous systems for condition monitoring and repair of urban infrastructure. His vision is to explore the application of automation techniques including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning approaches in optimisation of infrastructure, such as roads, maintenance type and timing as part of achieving a proactive asset management approach.