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Transportation conference helps drive careers

Nine men and a woman standing in front pose for a group photo on the sidewalk at night.

MU students and faculty in attendance at the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board annual meeting include: (front row) Lei Fang; (back row, from left) Yi Hou, Andrew Nam, Henry Brown, a research engineer in civil engineering, Andrew Robertson, Sawyer Breslow, Charles Nemmers, director of the Transportation Infrastructure Center, Jalil Kianfar, Massoud Nasrollhai and Eric Zhu.

Top researchers working in the field of transportation meet each year in Washington, D.C., for the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board meeting. This year, eight Mizzou graduate students from the Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering Department attended and presented their research.

The students joined 11,000 transportation researchers and professionals at the weeklong event to learn about the cutting-edge research in the field of transportation.

Sawyer Breslow, who is pursuing his master’s in civil engineering, said he appreciated having the chance to attend the conference.

“The conference opened my eyes to the ample opportunities available in the transportation field,” Breslow said. “My plan for after I complete my master’s education is to work for an engineering firm or DOT [Department of Transportation] specializing in transportation engineering.”

Graduate students Yi Hou and Jalil Kianfar presented posters at the conference. Three others, Erik Zhu, Lei Fang and Jalil Kianfar, gave podium presentations describing their research.

A doctoral candidate in civil engineering, Zhu said his main research area is in traffic safety, crash data analysis and microscopic traffic simulation.

“My recent projects are mainly about work zone safety and I believe my work will make the transportation system more efficient and safer,” Zhu said.

In addition to sharing their research and attending presentations, there were many opportunities for the graduate students to meet other professionals in the field, allowing them to network and make connections.

“Going to the TRB conference and presenting was a great opportunity for me to communicate with researchers in my field and I tried to make the best of it,” Zhu said.

With 4,000 presentations in nearly 750 sessions and several workshops addressing a range of topics, there was a lot to do at the 92nd annual meeting of the TRB.

Andrew Nam, Andrew Robertson and Massoud Nasrollahi also attended the conference. Nasrollahi, a doctoral candidate, was happy to get the chance to attend conference. His research focus is on the reliability of bridges.

“Taking part in the Transportation Research Board meeting was a great opportunity,” Nasrollahi said. “I was able to meet other academic and transportation experts to learn more about existing problems and the most important subjects that should be considered in future studies. This helps us to make bridges more reliable and safe for road users.”