Can you share a little bit about yourself and your role at SafeTREC?
I started my career as a postdoctoral researcher at SafeTREC in August 2022, just after completing my Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington. My Ph.D. dissertation title was ‘’Data Fusion for Non-Motorized Volume Estimation: A Machine Learning Approach.” Before this, I obtained my MS in Transportation Engineering from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and my BS in Civil Engineering from Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, I worked as a lecturer and later Assistant Professor from February 2014 to August 2017 at Rajshahi University of Engineering & Technology. My general research interests include traffic safety, travel demand modeling, non-motorized transportation, Data Mining, Machine Learning, and Artificial intelligence.
What sparked your interest in transportation safety research?
My initial interest in transportation safety research sparked when I worked as Faculty back home in Bangladesh. The dire need for specialists and experts on traffic safety to run the department and the worst traffic safety concerns in my country led me to devote my mind to transportation safety studies and research. My MS research on traffic safety at the University of Hawaii at Manoa boosted this interest which ultimately influenced me to pursue my Ph.D. in transportation engineering, focusing on non-motorized traffic demand and safety. Finally, SafeTREC allowed me to implement my acquired knowledge and wisdom in an excellent research environment at UC Berkeley.
What current projects are you working on at SafeTREC?
I am working on three different projects - one under Dr. Julia B. Griswold's supervision at SafeTREC and two with California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) under the supervision of Professor Alexander Skabardonis. In the first project, I am developing statewide pedestrian and bicycle exposure models to identify road design features or other characteristics of counters/locations to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety programs. While in the second project, preparing guidelines for count data collection and processing, I am also using emerging data such as Strava, and StreetLight as the possibility of ground counter calibration. These guidelines will help decide where to install the counters and how to collect the data. In the third project, I am testing several algorithms to find a simple but robust one to measure network connectivity. This research will help identify parts of the network where network improvement is required to provide better connectivity and safety to non-motorized road users.
What issues are you particularly interested or passionate about?
Most of the time, the city or agency does not have the personnel or skilled employees to conduct the data analysis and come up with valuable conclusions that may help us to improve our future road users’ demand and safety. Data is the flow of information; we need to invest more in collecting and understanding safety-related data. Advanced Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can extract valuable information from data to help us make planning and policy-related decisions. I love to work as a data scientist as well as a transportation engineer to understand transportation safety through a data-driven approach.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Besides research and job responsibilities, I love to hike small to medium trails and swim in the ocean. When I was in Honolulu during my MS study, I used to go hiking or swimming almost every weekend. Nature attracts me most when I am exhausted and gives me strength and a refresh to start with the whole spirit. The unavailability of the ocean near me could not stop me from swimming; I used to go to my graduate school swimming pool to swim frequently. I also love biking for physical exercise, recreation, and commuting purposes. I am a person who loves to experience food from diverse cultures such as at potlucks or food festivals.
This Spotlight interview was conducted in collaboration with UC Berkeley SafeTREC. The opinions and perspectives expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of SafeTREC.