Lijun Summerhayes, PhD: Exploring Aussie agrifood clusters

Dr Lijun ‘Lucy’ Summerhayes successfully concluded her doctoral studies in Urban Studies at Queensland University of Technology in the spring of 2023. Under the guidance of QUT Professors Doug Baker and Karen Vella, and with the backing of Future Food Systems, her PhD thesis delved into the realms of food security and policy across three major Australian cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.   

Her adeptness and leadership in this specialised field earned her a prestigious post-doctoral research position within the School of Architecture and Built Environment within QUT’s Faculty of Engineering.  

In this new role, Dr Summerhayes will expand her expertise to encompass regional and peri-urban landscapes, examining the broader ramifications of growth policies in small to medium agrifood enterprises.

Dr Lijun ‘Lucy’ Summerhayes (third from right) at Murdoch University in February 2024 with Future Food Systems Education Director Professor Brian Sindel (far left), FFS Research Portfolio Manager Maria Veronica Chandra-Hioe (fourth from R) and, left to right, FFS-supported PhD students Miranda Yang, Charlotte Rowley, Namal Jayasuriya, Mahesh Galappaththi and Andrew Tilley. Credit: Future Food Systems

Exploring agrifood-industry clusters Australia-wide 

In late 2023, Dr Summerhayes joined QUT’s School of Architecture and Built Environment as a postdoctoral research fellow investigating agrifood ecosystems across Australia. 

Her focus is upon policy and government regulation and its effect on SMEs across the country; and on how ecosystems can be an effective tool for assisting SME enterprises. 

Dr Summerhayes loves the varied nature of the job, which might involve anything from conducting literature reviews to visiting agrifood hubs, interviewing stakeholders or analysing findings. She also enjoys the intellectual challenge, and the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from experts in the field. 

Dr Summerhayes (far left), with Future Food Systems’ Luke McQuillan, Dr James Krahe and Prof. Brian Sindel, on a tour of Melville Park farm, part of the 2024 For Food’s Sake Summit in Western Australia. Credit: Future Food Systems

A pathway to research success

Lucy Summerhayes began her PhD studies at Queensland University of Technology in February 2019. Her doctoral research project, ‘Urban Food Planning in Australia: Enabling and Constraining Factors’, conducted and analysed 102 interviews “to investigate the attitudes and perceptions of planning professionals and policymakers in Australia, and to explore barriers to and opportunities for developing urban food planning in Australia”, she explains. 

Ms Summerhayes’ lead supervisor was FFS Program 1: Agrifood precincts lead, Doug Baker, a Professor within QUT’sSchool of Architecture & Built Environment and a seasoned land-use and airport planner. Professor Karen Vella, an urban and environmental planner, co-supervised her research. 

Future Food Systems awarded Ms Summerhayes a top-up scholarship and provided what she said was “a valuable interface for knowledge-sharing and dissemination concerning future food systems”. 

Lead image: Lijun Summerhayes presenting her research at the 2022 Future of Food Summit at QUT in Brisbane. Credit: Future Food Systems