Sun, Guibo 孫貴博


I am an Assistant Professor within the Department of Urban Planning and Design and the director of the Urban Analytics and Interventions Research Lab at the University of Hong Kong. My research interest lies in causal inference in urban interventions’ social and health effects, using natural experiments. Social science researchers often ask questions about cause and effect. In the context of my research, we are talking about “causes” that are built environment interventions via urban planning and design practices, such as street experiments, a new transport infrastructure, urban regeneration programme, and “effects” in individual and public health and social and economic outcomes. Note the growing body of research on social and health effects of built environment is mostly observational studies constrained in their ability to make causal inferences. I use carefully constructed natural experiments that allow credible causal inference of urban interventions. It is interdisciplinary research on urban analytics, empirical social science, and urban studies and planning.

My ongoing research revolves around three main themes: urban redevelopment and social and health impacts of older people; new metro, active travel and wider health effects; street and public space interventions linked with long-term changes. The three research themes cover different types of urban interventions (e.g., complex interventions, short term actions). Most of the research has secured grants. If you are interested in knowing more about my research, please visit the Urban Analytics and Interventions Research Lab (

I have a PhD degree in Geoinformation Science from the Inter-Faculty Programme at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (2014). During doctoral research, I received training from exchange programmes within Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University and Department of Geography at University of Cambridge. After doctoral training, I had four-year research experiences as a research associate, postdoctoral fellow, and research assistant professor in geography, planning and architecture schools at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Peking University and The University of Hong Kong.


  • URBS1004 Urban Analytics Studio
  • URBS2005 Research Methods in Urban Studies
  • URBP6017 GIS for Urban and Regional Planning and Development
  • URBP7003 Research Methods in Spatial Planning
  • URBP7008 Strategic and Community Planning Studio
  • CCCH9002 Chinese Cities in the 21st Century

Awards & Achievements

  • 2019 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Early Career Academic Award, Winner
  • 2019 RTPI Research Excellence Commended Award (commendation for highest scoring entry across all categories)
  • 2019 Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Award, the University of Hong Kong (Co-I)
  • 2020 Jiangxi Science and Technology Award – Natural Science Award, Silver Award (Co-I)
  • 2021 RTPI Early Career Research Excellence Commended Award
  • 2021 HKU Research Output Prize

Research Grants

  • PI, Public transport use and health impacts on the elderly: a natural experiment in the high density built environment of Hong Kong. (GRF 17600818, 2018.08-2021.12, 725,000 HKD).
  • PI, Pricing urban design in the walking catchment of metro stations (NSFC 52078446, 2021.01-2025.01, 580,000 RMB).
  • PI, Intercultural perspectives for understanding how people experience everyday space and place (RGC Germany/ Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme, G-HKU703/20, 2021.01-2023.01, 90,000 HKD for each side of Germany and Hong Kong)
  • Co-PI, Natural Experiments in built environment and elderly health in high-density cities. The 44th round of the URC Postdoc Fellow/RAP Scheme (2020.12-2023.12)

Peer-reviewed papers

  • Y. Du, G. Sun*, E. Choe, M. Kwan (2022). Mediation effects of social isolation on pathways connecting public transport use with subjective wellbeing among older people. Journal of Transport & Health
  • G. Talamini, D. Shao, A. Chow,G. Sun (2022)The controversial impact of pedestrian guardrails on road crossing behaviours. Evidence from Hong Kong. Urban Design International
  • J. Zhao, G. Sun*, C. Webster (2022). Does China-Pakistan Economic Corridor improve connectivity in Pakistan? A protocol assessing the planned transport network infrastructure. Journal of Transport Geography 100:103327.
  • G. Sun, Y. Du, M. Ni, J. Zhao, C. Webster (2021). Metro and elderly health in Hong Kong: Protocol for a natural experiment study in a high-density city. BMJ Open, https://doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-043983
  • G. Sun, C. Lau (2021). Go-along with older people to public transport in high-density cities: Understanding the concerns and walking barriers through their lens. Journal of Transport & Health,
  • G. Sun, J. Zhao, C. Webster, H. Lin (2020). New metro system and active travel: A natural experiment. Environment International, 138, 105605
  • G. Sun, D. Wallace, C. Webster (2020). Unravelling the impact of street network structure and gated community layout in development-oriented transit design. Land Use Policy, 90, 104328.
  • J. Zhao, G. Sun*, C. Webster (2020). Walkability Scoring: Why and how does a 3D pedestrian network matter? Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 1-20.
  • G. Sun, C. Webster, X. Zhang, (2019). Connecting the city: A three-dimensional pedestrian network of Hong Kong. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 1-16.
  • L. Yang, X. Wang, G. Sun, Y. Li (2019). Modelling the perception of walking environmental quality in a traffic-free tourist destination. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 2019: 1-16,
  • G. Sun, C. Webster (2019). The security grills on apartments in gated communities: Trading-off 3D and 2D landscapes of fear in China, Cities, 90, 113-121.
  • Y. Lu, G. Sun, Gou, Z., Liu, Y., & Zhang, X. (2019). A dose-response effect between built environment characteristics and transport walking for youths. Journal of Transport & Health, 14, 100616.
  • L. Yi, Y. Yang, G. Sun, Z. Gou (2019) Associations between overhead-view and eye-level urban greenness and cycling behaviours, Cities. 88: 10-18.
  • G. Sun, X. Han, S. Sun, N. Oreskovic (2018). Living in school catchment neighborhoods: Perceived built environments and active commuting behavior in children of China. Journal of Transport & Health, 1-11,
  • G. Sun, C. Webster, A. Chiaradia (2018). Un-gating the cities: A permeability perspective. Urban Studies, 55(12), 2586–2602,
  • G. Sun, C. Webster, M. Ni, X. Zhang (2018). Measuring high density built environment for public health research: Uncertainty with respect to data, indicator design and spatial scale. Geospatial Health, 653: 1-16.
  • BD Ma, SL. Ng, T. Schwanen, J. Zacharias, M. Zhou, I. Kawachi, Sun (2018), Pokémon GO and physical activity in Asia: Multilevel study, Journal of Medical Internet Research. 20(6): e217
  • Y. Lu, G. Sun, C. Sarkar, Z. Gou, & Y. Xiao (2018). Commuting mode choice in a high-density city: do land-use density and diversity matter in Hong Kong? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(5), 920.
  • G. Sun, J. Zacharias (2017). Can bicycle relieve overcrowded metro? Managing short-distance travel in Beijing. Sustainable Cities and Society, 35: 323–330
  • G. Sun, C. Webster, A. Chiaradia (2017). Objective assessment of station approach routes: development and reliability of an audit for walking environments around metro stations in China. Journal of Transport & Health, (4):191–207
  • G. Sun, J. Zacharias and B. Ma, N. Oreskovic (2016). How do metro stations integrate with walking environments? Results from walking access within three types of built environment in Beijing. Cities, 56: 91-98.
  • G. Sun, R. Haining, H. Lin, N. Oreskovic, J. He (2015). Comparing the perception with the reality of walking in a hilly environment: an accessibility method applied to a university campus in Hong Kong. Geospatial Health, 10(340), 32-39.
  • G. Sun, R.A. Acheampong, H. Lin, V.C. Pun (2015). Understanding walking behavior among university students using Theory of Planned Behavior. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(11):13794-13806.
  • G. Sun, N. Oreskovic, H. Lin (2014). How do changes to the built environment influence walking behaviors? A longitudinal study within a university campus in Hong Kong. International Journal of Health Geographics, 13(1), 28 (BioMed Central Highly Accessed Paper)