Meet the team

Professor Adamu Ahmed (Co-Investigator, ABU-Z) 

Adamu is a professor of Urban and Regional Planning and the Coordinator of the Centre for Spatial Information Science (CSIS) at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria – Nigeria. He’s been involved in several collaborative urban research projects across Nigeria, most recently with researchers from the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) Sweden and the Development Planning Unit of the University College London (UCL). He’s also provided consultancy services to several public/private and International Development Organizations such as the World Bank, DfID/NIAF, UN-Habitat, Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and several State governments across Nigeria.

Adamu’s research interests include: regional and urban growth dynamics, governance and the spatial economy, and urban livelihood. His current focus is on the spatio-temporal growth pattern of settlements in Nigeria.

Dr. James Cheshire (Principal Investigator, UCL)

James completed a BSc (1st Class Hons.) in Physical Geography at the University of Southampton before undertaking a PhD in GIScience at the UCL Department of Geography. His topic was the spatial analysis and visualisation of large surname databases. After completing his PhD he was appointed Lecturer in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualisation at CASA before moving to the UCL Department of Geography where he a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Human Geography. James is also Deputy Director of both the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre and the UCL Q-Step Centre.

His research focuses on the use of “big” and open datasets for the study of social science. He has published in a range of journals on a variety of topics including the use of cycle hire schemes, the spatial analysis of surnames and new ways to visualise population data. James is the recipient of a number of major awards from the Royal Geographical Society, The North American Cartographic Information Society and British Cartographic Society. He is President of the Society of Cartographers. Aside from his academic outputs, a wide range of his maps and visualisations have been featured in the popular press.  Read more at or follow @spatialanalysis on Twitter.

Dr. Tatiana Thieme (Co-Investigator, UCL) 

Tatiana is a lecturer in Human Geography based at UCL. Tatiana brings to this project her experience and interest in urban development, informal and ‘hustle’ economies, and precarious urban environments in both the global North and the global South, with on-going research connections to Kenya for the past 10 years. She has a background in Anthropology and performance studies along with Geography and applies an ethnographic approach to research including visual methodologies.

Tatiana has a PhD in Geography from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Law and Anthropology from LSE, and a BA in Anthropology and Dance from Cornell University. Her PhD focused on the social and economic organisation of youth-led informal waste labour in one of Nairobi’s largest informal settlements. This involved studying the urban political ecology of sanitation poverty in relation to the forms of ‘hustle’ entrepreneurship amongst youth born and raised in precarious neighbourhoods turning an environmental problem into a social business opportunity.

Dr. Faisal Umar (Co-Investigator, ABU-Z) 

Faisal is a Lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria – Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor degree in Urban & Regional Planning from ABU Zaria, a Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Leicester, and a PhD in GIScience from University College London (UCL). His PhD thesis focused on how Euro–American theories of urban crime can be applied in the context of developing countries such as Nigeria, a project that has won the Roger Tomlinson Prize for the best PhD dissertation at UCL in the area of GIS applications.

Faisal has a wide range of research interest within the broader field of urban planning/studies, including the spatial analysis of urban crime, crime prevention through environmental design and urban conflicts in divided cities.


Mr. Babagana Abdullahi (ABU-Z)

Babagana is a research assistant at the Centre for Spatial Information Science at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. He holds a Bachelor degree in Urban & Regional Planning and a Master of Urban Management.

He’s been involved in a previous collaborative research between the Development Planning Unit (DPU) of the University College London (UCL) and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, a project that explored the Economic Knowledge and Informal Economic Activities in Zaria. Babagana’s research interests include: urban informal economy and the urban livelihood of economic migrants.

Mr. Muktar Ahmed (ABU-Z)

Muktar is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Spatial Information Science (CSIS) of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. He’s a Bachelor degree in Urban and Regional Planning and currently pursuing an MSc. in Urban Management at ABU Zaria. He has assisted in several research projects at CSIS, most recently in the “spatio-temporal analysis of settlement growth in Nigeria” project.

Muktar’s research interests include: urban growth dynamics, resilient cities, and the geovisualization of urban datasets. He’s recently developed a web based platform for monitoring urban growth in the Zaria urban region.

Dr. Anwar Musah (UCL)

Anwar is a Research Associate based at UCL’s Department of Geography. His work focuses on the application of statistical modelling and GIS on spatially referenced sociodemographic and criminological records. He is also responsible for the facilitation of training, and creation of the data materials linked to the development frontiers project. 

Anwar has a MSc in Modern Epidemiology (Imperial College London, UK) and a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics (Brunel University, UK). He has recently completed his doctoral studies at the University of Nottingham (UK). His PhD research was focused on the potential impacts of environmental exposures to elevated topsoil geochemical contaminants on cancer risk in the UK population.

Ms. Khadijat Nda Yakubu (ABU-Z)

Khadijat is an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. Her background is in Urban and Regional Planning; she also has a Masters degree in Urban Management from ABU Zaria. She’s previously worked as a research assistant on the “Economic Knowledge and Informal Economic Activities in Zaria”, a collaborative research project between the Development Planning Unit (DPU) of the University College London (UCL) and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

Khadijat is currently pursuing a PhD degree along the theme of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). Her other research interests include: crime events in low-income neighbourhoods and urban livelihoods of reformed offenders.