Urban Planning

CAO Zhan


Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Department, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University  

Postdoc, Public Governance Institute, KU Leuven 


Year 3 /Fall /Undergraduate/ Community Center Planning

Year 1 /Spring /Graduate/ Urban Economy

Year 1 /Spring /Graduate/ Frontiers of Regional Plan


Research interests:

I am an assistant professor in urban planning and regional science. I obtained a joint PhD degree at Ghent University (Belgium) and Tongji University (China) in 2019, where I conducted research on the evolution of interurban scientific collaboration networks of China. My current research focuses on: (1) geography of urban innovation; (2) comparative analyses of regional innovation networks between China and Europe; (3) Urban networks and polycentric development. 

Research Grant:

1. National Science Foundation Grant for Young Scholars, The evolution of regional innovative knowledge networks of the Yangtze River Delta region: structures, performances and mechanisms. (No. 52008298). PI, 2021.01-2023.12.

2. China Postdoctoral Science Foundation, Structural characteristics, regional differences and planning responses of the interurban knowledge networks in the Yangtze River Economic Belt. (2020M671229). PI. 2020.7-2022.3.

3. lESPON Early Career Researcher Scientific Grant, Beyond ‘interurban collaboration networks’: examining the geography of ‘interurban knowledge networks’ of the European Union. (EE/SO4/180/2021). PI. 2021.10-2022.9.



1. Cao Z, Derudder B*, Dai L*, & Peng Z. (2022) ‘Buzz-and-pipeline’ dynamics in Chinese science: The impact of interurban linkages on cities’ innovation capacity. Regional Studies, 56(02), 290-306.

2. Cao Z, Li Y*, Dai L& Peng Z. (2023). Chinese cities in global networks of advanced producer services and scientific collaboration: A comparative study. Eurasian Geography and Economics.

3. Cao Z, Derudder B, Dai L*, & Peng Z. (2022). An analysis of the evolution of Chinese cities in global scientific collaboration networks. ZFW-Advanced in Economic Geography. Doi: 10.1515/zfw-2021-0039.

4. Dai L, Derudder B, Cao Z*, & Peng Z. (2022) Examining the evolving structures of intercity knowledge networks: the case of scientific collaboration in China. International Journal of Urban Sciences. Doi: 10.1080/12265934.2022.2042365.

5. Cao Z, Derudder B*, & Peng Z. (2020). Interurban knowledge collaboration networks across Chinese city-regions. Environment and Planning A. Doi: 10.1177/0308518X20938381.

6. Cao Z, Derudder B*, & Peng Z. (2019). Interaction between different forms of proximity in inter‐organizational scientific collaboration: the case of medical sciences research network in the Yangtze River Delta region. Papers in Regional Science. 98, 1903-1924.

7. Cao Z, Derudder B*, & Peng Z. (2018). Comparing the physical, functional and knowledge integration of the Yangtze River Delta city-region through the lens of inter-city networks. Cities, 82, 119-126.

8. Derudder B*, Cao Z, Liu X, Shen W, Dai L, Zhang W, ... & Taylor P J. (2018). Changing connectivities of Chinese cities in the world city network, 2010–2016. Chinese geographical science, 28(2), 183-201.

9. Cheng L, Chen X, Yang S, Cao Z, Vos J D, Witlox F. Active travel for active ageing in china: the role of built environment. Journal of Transport Geography, 2019, 76, 142-152.

10. Dai L, Cao Z, Zhu Q, & Yin R. (2021). Analyzing polycentric urban development in China: evidence from intercity knowledge collaboration. Resource Science, 43(5), 886-897.

11. Cao Z, Dai L, Yang Y, & Peng Z. (2022). The difference of knowledge collaboration patterns of Chinese cities and their impacts on knowledge output: an empirical study based on the 'buzz-and pipelines' model. Acta Geographica Sinica, 77(4), 960-975.

12. Cao Z, Dai L, Wu K, & Peng Z. (Forthcoming). Structural features and driving factors of the evolution of the global interurban knowledge collaboration network. Geographical Research, 41(4), 1072-1091.

13. Cao Z, Zhu S, Dai L, & Peng Z. (Under review). The impacts of multidimentional proximity on regional collaboration network: a case of medical sciences in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang-Shanghai region. Geographical Research, , 41(09), 2531-2547.

14. Dai L, Cao Z, Zhang W, & Lv L. (2020). Comparative analysis of urban networks in the Yangtze River Delta based on multiplex intercity flows. Resource and Environment in the Yangtze Basin. 29(6), 1280-1289. (in Chinese)

15. Cao Z, Peng Z. (2017). Correlation between 'attributs and network' of global city and global city-region: a case of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta. Economic Geography. 37(5), 1-11. (in Chinese)