Humphrey School PhD Students Present Research to International Crowd

They displayed their transportation work at TRB, one of the largest conferences in the world
January 30, 2020
Traffic on a Minneapolis street
Cyclists, buses, and cars compete for space on this Minneapolis city street. Photo: MnDOT via Flickr

The annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference is a big deal—some 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world attend the event every year. 

So it was a big deal that five PhD students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs were selected to present their research projects at this year’s conference in Washington, DC earlier this month. 

As part of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the TRB provides independent, innovative, research-based solutions to improve transportation.

“The best researchers in the world present at TRB, so the selection process is competitive,” says Greg Lindsey, a professor in the Humphrey School’s urban and regional planning area and an advisor to the students. “Being chosen to present is an affirmation of our students’ quality of research.”

All of the Humphrey School projects took an in-depth look at a transportation or planning issue in the Twin Cities metro area. 

• Tao Tao and Jueyu Wang worked with Lindsey and his urban planning colleague, Professor Jason Cao, to examine the risk of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in various neighborhoods in Minneapolis. 

They found that people in Minneapolis who live in lower-income neighborhoods in which more than half the residents are people of color, face a higher crash risk than those who live in more affluent, majority-white neighborhoods, especially at intersections.

The results support efforts by the Minneapolis Department of Public Works to give more weight to equity and pedestrian and bicycle safety when it prioritizes street improvements.

• Tao also presented findings from another project examining the risk of pedestrian and bicycle crashes at highway intersections in Minneapolis. 

• Wang did presentations on two projects: one on bicyclists who also use bus transit, and the second evaluating freight-related crashes in low-income neighborhoods. 

• Xinyi Wu researched the determinants of transit rider satisfaction with different trip purposes (ie: work vs. recreation).

• Leoma Van Dort presented the results of a recent capstone project that looked at the benefits and drawbacks of installing sidewalks in suburban cities, using St. Louis Park, Minnesota as an example. 

• Yunlei Qi studied the nationwide "spatial mismatch" comparing where disadvantaged populations live to where suitable jobs are available. One key barrier for people looking for jobs is the lack of transportation to and from the workplace. 

The Humphrey School has sent students to the TRB in previous years as well, including PhD and master’s degree candidates. 

“By presenting at the TRB, students share their research expertise and enhance their communication skills,” Lindsey says. “They network with potential employers, and make new contacts that lead to new research projects.”