The Humanitarian Frontiers Lab is a leading academic lab at the University of Sydney under the leadership of Dr Aaron Opdyke. Our lab is dedicated to pioneering research that transcends traditional boundaries, focusing on the intersection of infrastructure and social systems. We believe in leveraging the power of interdisciplinary methods to generate evidence that not only informs but also drives action toward positive social transformation.

At the core of our mission lies the belief that rigorous research is critical to reducing the impact of disasters and addressing the challenges posed by climate change. By redefining how we conceptualise and approach these issues, we strive to create resilient communities that are equipped to face uncertain futures. We believe in the power of rigorous research to uncover insights that can inform policy, empower communities, and catalyse innovation. Through our collaborative efforts, we aim to bridge the gap between academia, government, and civil society, fostering partnerships that facilitate the translation of research findings into tangible solutions.

We are committed to advancing knowledge and driving impact in the following areas:

  • Humanitarian Response: Investigating humanitarian crises and how to support infrastructure that delivers equitable access to essential services and resources to displaced populations.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction: Understanding the complex dynamics of disasters and developing strategies to build resilience at the individual, community, and institutional levels.
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Examining the intersection of climate change and infrastructure to develop sustainable solutions that mitigate risks and promote adaptation.

Through our innovative research, educational initiatives, and outreach efforts, we aim to foster a culture of collaboration and learning that empowers individuals and communities to thrive in the face of adversity

Our Model


We believe in looking beyond the numbers to value the people behind data, using new methods to see problems differently.


We work at the cross-roads of engineering and social inquiry, applying innovative tools to make sense of complexity.


We are committed to bridging the academic and practice divide, ensuring that research translates to policy and practice.


  • Humanity

    We value our team and the people in our research as more than just students, staff, or data, valuing their personality, experience, and knowledge.

  • Ethical

    We value integrity. We are reflective on our positionality and the power imbalances in our work to ensure we protect the people involved in our research.

  • Inclusive

    We believe diversity is an asset that enriches our work and fosters ingenuity.

  • Rigour

    We produce defensible research and quality evidence, applying novel methods to produce new knowledge.

  • Collaboration

    We rely on each other; imbibing the spirit of helping each other and the recognition that we can accomplish more together than alone.

  • Engagement

    We recognise the importance of connecting with practice. We are committed to disseminating our research to ensure that it is understood, applied, and present in global dialogues.

Group photo sitting at table