Dr Marilu Melo is part of the Environmental Humanities program at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney. With a disciplinary background in human geography and cultural anthropology, her research has explored the fields of social housing relocation projects, peri-urban disaster management, water governance and volumetric urbanism.
Marilu’s current research interest is focused on subterranean spaces, expanding geographical scholarship into a volume ontology, by excavating past, present and future material transformations and geosocial agencies of the underground. This includes a project focus on the political economy of tunneling: how the underground has emerged as a significant site for urban development, thus presenting a pressing need to understand its imaginaries, conceptualisations and challenges from a critical urban perspective.
Marilu is also a lead member of the Community Engagement for Disaster Risk Reduction (CEDRR) initiative, a collaboration with the University of Melbourne and emergency service agencies to develop new methodologies to engage the publics in disaster preparation and mitigation. This work has been informed by her case study research on disasters, which has included projects focused on the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria, the 2010-11 South-East Queensland Floods, and the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City.
Prior to her position at UNSW, Marilu has held a variety of teaching and research positions at the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and the University of Melbourne.