Dr Abby Mellick Lopes

Abby Mellick Lopes is a design theorist with over 20 years' practical and academic experience in the field of design for sustainability, originating with her membership of the pioneering research and education consultancy the EcoDesign Foundation from 1996-2004. Her engaged research focuses on the relationship between design and social arrangements to support the transition to more sustainable cultures and economies, intersecting with a broad range of disciplinary fields including cultural studies, sociology, geography and planning. Abby collaborates with a wide range of academic, industry, community and government partners on projects tackling the social impacts of heat and development trends on the urban commons; civic trust in drinking water; food and waste economies and cultures of repair, with a particular focus on the communities of Western Sydney. Abby has published extensively on sustainable design, transdisciplinarity and transdisciplinary education. She also contributes to scholarly discourse on design, ontological design and image ecologies, and her work has been presented in the UK, US, Canada, Cyprus, Spain, Malaysia and China. Abby supervises postgraduate studies in design philosophy, phenomenology, poststructuralism and the practice disciplines of visual communication; graphic, industrial, fashion and urban design; ceramics, photography and calligraphy. She has expertise across a range of inventive and participatory research methodologies, with a particular interest in ethnographic and grounded practice and engaged social research that sees ‘creativity’ as a shared human characteristic.

Abby currently holds the position of Senior Lecturer in the design program in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. She is a member of the Digital Humanities Research Group, Institute for Culture and Society and the Intergener8 Strategic Research Initiative. Abby is an associate of The Studio at the Edge of the World (opens in a new window).


  • PhD, 2005, University of Sydney
  • BA Hons Class 1 and University Medal, 1992, University of Sydney

Awards and Recognition

  • 2017: Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
  • 2012: Green Globe Environmental Innovation Award for Transitioning to Sustainable Sanitation Futures (opens in a new window)project led by Professor Cynthia Mitchell, ISF at UTS (Partner Investigator)
  • 1999-2001 Australian Postgraduate Research Award

Selected Publications

Mellick Lopes, A. Arora, V, Healy, S, Power, E, Armstrong, H, Crabtree, L, Gibson, K & and Tonkinwise, C 2019, Cooling common spaces in densifying urban environments: a review of best practice and guide for Western Sydney renewal, Western Sydney University, Sydney (prepared for Landcom).

James, P, Mellick Lopes, A, Martín-Valdéz, S, Partoredjo, S, Salazar, JF & Zhong, F 2019, Closing the loop on waste: community engagement, cultural diversity and shared responsibilities in waste management in Canterbury-Bankstown, Western Sydney University, Sydney (prepared for City of Canterbury Bankstown).

Mellick Lopes, A & Crabtree, L (forthcoming) 2019, 'A conversation about the weather', in J Hamilton, A Neimanis & S Reid, Hacking the Anthropocene, Open Humanities Press.

Fam, D, Mellick Lopes, A, Crosby, A & Ross, K 2019, 'The Transdisciplinary Living Lab Model (TDLL)', in W Leal Filho et al. (eds), Universities as living labs for sustainable development supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (opens in a new window), Springer International, UK, pp. 167-182.

Mellick Lopes, A, Healy, S, Power, E, Crabtree, L & Gibson, K 2019, 'Infrastructures of care: opening up “home” as commons in a hot city' (opens in a new window), Human Ecology Review, vol. 24, no. 2, pp.41-59.

Crosby, A, Fam, D & Mellick Lopes A 2018, 'Transdisciplinarity and the "Living Lab Model": food waste management as a site for collaborative learning', in D Fam, L Neuhauser & P Gibbs (eds), Transdisciplinary theory, practice and education: the art of collaborative research and collective learning (opens in a new window), Springer International, pp. 117-131.

Mellick Lopes, A, Sofoulis, Z, Wakefield-Rann, R & Yu, Y 2017, Exploring the practices of Mandarin-speaking water drinkers, report for project Understanding the Drivers of Public Trust in Sydney Water, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Sydney.

Mellick Lopes, A 2017, 'Ontological design as an ecological practice', Arena Journal, no. 47/48, pp. 172-191.

Mellick Lopes, A & Zettel, T 2017, ‘Making time: food preservation and ontological design’, in O Vodob (ed.), Food democracy: critical lessons in food, communication, design and art, Intellect Books, UK, pp. 109–126.

Williams, J, Fam, D & Mellick Lopes, A 2017, ‘Creating knowledge: visual communication design research in transdisciplinary projects’, in D Fam, J Palmer, C Riedy & C Mitchell (eds), Transdisciplinary research and practice for sustainability outcomes, Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 155–171.

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