Travel awards help students share research, build connections

Travel background airCTS and the Roadway Safety Institute provided 21 U of M graduate students with travel awards to attend the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in January. The travel awards allow students interested in transportation to learn about the latest transportation research and network with professionals.

Some of the students also shared their research in poster and lectern presentations. This year’s student presenters included 2017 CTS student award winners Jingru Gao, Mengying Cui, and Jueyu Wang.

For Jingru Gao—a master’s candidate in transportation engineering and a winner of the 2017 Matthew J. Huber Award—highlights of the trip included attending workshops and lectures on human factors and traffic safety, presenting a research poster titled “Safety Impacts of the I-35W Priced Dynamic Shoulder Lane,” and networking with transportation professionals.

“Many people were interested in our research and asked many good questions,” Gao says. “I talked to scholars in the U.S. and from my mother country, China. It greatly helped me see the trend[s] and know the demand in transportation research. Now, I feel so motivated and will keep working hard on my transportation research.”

Mengying Cui, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering and another recipient of the 2017 Matthew J. Huber Award, shared her work on analyzing the effects of crash costs on route choice and accessibility. She also found value in discussing research problems with experts in the field and getting familiar with advanced research topics in transportation.

Jueyu Wang, a doctoral candidate in public affairs (concentration in urban planning) and winner of the 2017 John S. Adams Award, participated in two poster presentations and gave a lecture at the annual meeting. Her work focuses on the intersection between transportation and land use and on equity issues related to diversified transportation policies. “The conference provided me with the opportunity to show my research to others and gain valuable advice from them,” she says. “In addition, it was my first time giving a lecture at such a nationwide conference.”

Wang says she also enjoyed learning about cutting-edge transportation research, attending sessions related to her current project on bike sharing, learning about research needs related to active transportation and transit policy, and hearing about other researchers’ projects and methodologies.

Here’s what a few other travel award recipients had to say about their experience:

“Without the opportunity to attend the TRB conference, I would never have been able to learn as much about current research and case studies in transportation and freight planning, and I would not have had the opportunity to network with so many professionals and academics [from around the world]. I hope to leverage what I have learned…in my work during my final semester at the Humphrey School, as well as into my professional career as a recent graduate in the coming months and years.” —Joe Lampe

“Through attending the TRB conference, I gained knowledge about innovations in transportation, connected with transportation students and professionals, and presented research. By attending workshops, lectures, and poster sessions, I gained more expansive knowledge about the transportation field as a whole. This opportunity to understand new topics and research benefited my future career by allowing me to explore new interests and build the connections that will allow me to gain experience in the field.” —Lila Singer-Berk

“Throughout the week, I attended sessions ranging from connected/autonomous vehicle policy to aviation, environmental mitigation strategies, and port supply chain processes. It was like binge learning on all things related to transportation. Everything was at my fingertips! Above all else, my interested in my own work at the [U of M’s] Accessibility Observatory increased after learning from topic leaders around the nation. The emerging body of work on accessibility as the new planning metric makes me proud to be in this line of work.” —Kristin Carlson

“Attending a big conference for the first time gave me a wider [perspective on] this field that I am working in. I realized that, as a new researcher, I sometimes focus too much on my own small field of research. This conference, with its numerous topics and diverse attendees from many sectors related to transportation, has shown me all the possible directions that I could go and the potential research topics that I could have in this field.” —Xinyi Wu

Posted in Education, Transportation research

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