Welcome back to the SafeTREC Spotlight Series where we highlight a SafeTREC team member and share their stories, work and interest in the transportation and safety research realm. In today's post, meet graduate student researcher Qianhua Luo.
Can you share a little bit about yourself and your role at SafeTREC?
I was born and raised in a beautiful and livable city called Huizhou in the south of China. In 2014, I started college in Tongji University, Shanghai and chose to major in Transportation. I got the opportunity to study in the Transportation program at UC Berkeley as an extension student during my Senior year, which can be viewed as the starting point of my study abroad journey in the United States. Impressed by the academic atmosphere in Berkeley, I applied and got enrolled as a master student in the Transportation program under Civil and Environmental Engineering. In the fall semester, 2019, I advanced into the PhD program in Transportation with Professor Joan Walker as my advisor. I took CE C265, Traffic Safety and Injury Control, instructed by Offer Grembek when I was in the extension program and got to know SafeTREC since then. As a master student, in 2018, I joined SafeTREC as a Graduate Student Researcher.
What sparked your interest in transportation safety research?
Actually, the transportation system in China is very complex, in its unique way. Quite a few people use E-bike as an economical alternative to commute and to deliver packages or food. However, the absence of extensive regulations on E-bikers' riding behaviors leaves them with the freedom to travel on roads or sidewalks at their convenience, and in the direction at their will. E-bikers' risky behaviors pose great danger not only to themselves but also to the other road users. Simply banning people from using E-bike is not a reasonable solution to the safety problem, however, since it's essential for people in a certain annual income group or in a particular occupation to conduct daily activity and to fulfill their life goal. More considerate safety measures and regulations are in need to improve safety of the transportation system. As a sustainable and safe transportation system is essential to better quality of life, I'd like to work on projects that aim to address safety issues in the system.
What current projects are you working on at SafeTREC?
I joined the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Program in Phase 3. Now I am working on the task to group the long-term count locations based on similar activity patterns and estimating a cluster membership model based on surrounding land use of locations. With the cluster membership model, we can match short-term count locations with the correct expansion factor group and then expand the short-term count to get the annual activity demand estimation.
What issues are you particularly interested or passionate about?
Advised by Professor Joan Walker, my PhD research focuses on behavior study and discrete choice modeling. New technology and service are coming in and reshaping the Transportation system constantly. During the pandemic, with more constraints and restrictions, people are also trying to change their behaviors and adopt new alternatives such as online shopping and teleworking in order to adapt to the new environment. Will the pandemic reshape people's habits and lead to a new norm? Or will people reverse back to their past routine when the pandemic ends? I am particularly interested in understanding the adoption process of a new service, and identifying the important factors that encourage adoption as well as the restrictions and potential inequity behind that prevent people from adopting.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy traveling and reading in my leisure time. During the pandemic, I also developed a new hobby and started to learn street dance, with a particular interest in Hip Hop.