January 2016 Newsletter


What’s new in CEE?

Congratulations to our December graduates!

The end of the fall semester brought a flurry of thesis and dissertation defenses. Our department was pleased to award one MS degree and three PhDs. Names and thesis titles are below:

  • Matthew Reardon (MS): Deterioration Modeling of Subordinate Elements and Element Interaction for Bridge Management Systems (Adviser: Dr. Steven Chase)
  • Md. Tanveer Hayat (PhD): Investigating Drivers’ Responses to Advisory Messages in a Connected Vehicle Environment (Adviser: Dr. Brian Smith)
  • Derek Henderson (PhD): Impact of Vegetation Management on Vegetated Roadsides and Their Performance as a Low-Impact-Development Practice for Linear Transportation Infrastructure (Adviser: Dr. James Smith)
  • Changju Lee (PhD):  Multi-modal Enhancements to Public-Private Partnerships (Advisers: Dr. John Miller and Dr. Brian Park)

Please congratulate these folks on their excellent accomplishments. Also, as a reminder, thesis and dissertation defenses are a celebration of scholarship and hard work. They are open to the public, and CEE students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to attend. With the recent renovations to the Eichenthal Room and Rodman Room, we have bigger and better spaces to accommodate these events.

Derek Henderson defended his doctoral dissertation in the Rodman Room last month.

Important info regarding the seminar series

The seminar series for this semester will kick off this week with TWO seminars. Unfortunately due to scheduling difficulties, both of these talks will be on this Thursday (January 14) and neither will be at our new standard seminar time slot. This week’s talks will be:

  1. Bassem Andrews, PhD – Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagn Quasi-static + Dynamic Testing of RC Columns Rehabilitated using Shape Memory Alloy Spirals Jan 14, 12-1 pm * THN D-221 * Hosted by: Professor Osman Ozbulut
  2. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, PhD – Research Associate, Institute of Transportation at Iowa State University  Wide Area Probe Data: Opportunities and Challenges                                                                            Jan 14, 1:15-2 pm * THN D-221 * Hosted by: Simona Babiceanu

Starting next week, we will move to our new time for the seminar seires: Fridays at noon in D-221. Refreshments will be available starting at roughly 11:50 in the seminar room. Talks will begin promptly atnoon. The calendar of speakers is available on the departmental website. As a reminder, all graduate students are expected to sign up for at least one shift as seminar moderator or refreshments coordinator. Use this Google Doc  to sign up ASAP, or you will be randomly assigned to a shift. Please refer to the schedule for instructions on how to complete each task.

Where are they now? – Dr. Jia Hu

This series features recent CEE graduate alumni, telling us in their own words about themselves and what they’ve been up to since leaving UVA.  Thanks to Professor Brian Park for recommending this week’s featured alum, Dr. Jia Hu.

Where are you from, where did you do your undergraduate, and in what field?
I am from China. My undergraduate was from Zhejiang University. It is the third best university in China, following Tsinghua University and Peking University. My major was Civil Engineering.

Who was your doctoral adviser, when did you graduate, and what was your dissertation topic?
My adviser was Prof. Brian Park. I graduated in Aug 2015. My dissertation was about development of a connected vehicle enabled transit signal priority control mechanism. It is a traffic signal and vehicle integrated optimization that helps reduce bus delay at signalized intersections.

Where are you now, what is your title, and what are you working on? Is this related to your dissertation?
I am currently conducting research at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center of the Federal Highway Administration.  My title is Research Associate. I am working on couple different research at the same time, the main project is indeed an extension of my Ph.D. work. On top of my Ph.D. work which optimizes both vehicle speed and signal, I am exploring the possibility of additionally optimizing powertrain of the vehicle to achieve an ultimate eco-ACC/ eco-CACC optimal controller. Other research I am working on include bottleneck identification tool, intersection design etc.

What was your favorite part of the graduate experience and/or what do you miss most about UVA?
The graduate seminars. It provides a means to learn about my colleagues’ work and gain inspirations. It also provides me the opportunity to learn from the master minds of my field (those visiting famous professors).

What is your advice for current CEE graduate students? 
I think picking a right dissertation topic is always the most important thing. Pick one that really makes a different will help you get through the hard time. I believe every Ph.D. candidate has his/her dark time. When that comes, remind yourself how important your research is is quite helpful. Other than that, go to www.phdcomics.com, it also helps. LOL. Remember, you are not alone.

Anything you’d like to share about yourself professionally?
Here is a list of my publications, I wonder if it would help.

  1. Jia Hu*, Michael Fontaine, Jiaqi Ma. Data Quality of Private Sector Travel Time Data on Arterials. ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering, in press.
  2. Jun Liu, Xin Wang, Asad J Khattak, Jia Hu*, Jianxun Cui, Jiaqi Ma. How Big Data Serves for Freight Safety Management at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings? A Spatial Approach Fused with Path Analysis. Neurocomputing, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.neucom.2015.08.098.
  3. Ximiao Jiang, Mohamed Abdel-Aty, Jia Hu*, Jaeyoung Lee. Investigating Macro-level Hotzone Identification and Variable Importance Using Big Data: A Random Forest Models Approach. Neurocomputing, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.neucom.2015.08.097.
  4. Jianxun Cui, Feng Liu*, Jia Hu, Janssens Davy. Identifying mismatch between urban travel demand and transport network services using GPS data: A case study in the fast growing Chinese city of Harbin. Neurocomputing, in press.
  5. Jia Hu*, Michael Fontaine. Field Evaluations of an Adaptive Traffic Signal Control System Using Private Sector Probe Data. ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering. DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)TE.1943-5436.0000806.
  6.  Jia Hu*, Brian Park, Young-Jae Lee. “Coordinated Transit Signal Priority Supporting Transit Progression Under Connected Vehicle Technology,” Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Available online 28 January 2015, ISSN 0968-090X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trc.2014.12.005.
  7. Jia Hu*, Brian Park, Emily Parkany. “Transit Signal Priority with Connected Vehicle Technology,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2418, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2014, pp. 20-29, DOI 10.3141/2418-03.
  8. Yingjie Xia*, Jia Hu, Michael D Fontaine. “A Cyber ITS Framework for Massive Traffic Data Analysis Using Cyber infrastructure,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2013, Article ID 462846, 9 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/462846
  9. Yu Zhang, Elizabeth Harris*, Meghan Rogers, David Kaber, Joseph Hummer, William Rasdorf, Jia Hu. “Driver Distraction and Performance Effects of Highway Logo Sign Design,” Applied Ergonomics, Volume: 44 Issue Number: 3. 2013-5. pp 472-479
  10. Jia Hu*, Bastian J. Schroeder, and Nagui M. Rouphail, “A Rationale for Incorporating Queue Discharge Flow into Highway Capacity Manual Procedure for Analysis of Freeway Facilities,” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2286, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2012, pp. 76-83.

Any additional closing comments or thoughts?
I would like to take the opportunity to thank UVa and thank my adviser Dr. Brian Park. They provided me the opportunity to work on what I really like and on what I really like only. There are many resources I got that are not easy to acquire elsewhere. I truly appreciate that.

Dr. Jia Hu graduated from CEE in 2015. He currently works at FHWA’s Turner-Fairback Highway Research Center.

It’s time for graduate recruitment

The department’s deadline for applications to start graduate school in fall 2016 will be this Friday, January 16. As such, it’s time to get thinking about graduate admissions and recruitment. This is a shared responsibility and opportunity for the entire department – because our graduate students make us who we are! Naturally, we want the best and brightest to come to UVA and work with us as colleagues, mentees, and friends.

The SEAS Graduate Recruitment Weekend will be held on Friday and Saturday, February 26-27. We will once again collaborate with the Associate Dean’s Office to offer events and interactions that will highlight CEE and UVA for our visiting guests while they are here. We are currently in search of 1-2 graduate students who can oversee the planning and coordination of our department’s recruiting events, including:

  • Welcome breakfast and lab tours on Friday morning
  • Meetings with individual faculty and research groups
  • A poster symposium highlighting the research of current CEE graduate students on Friday afternoon. Please note that will need at least one student per research group to present, so that we can showcase the full breadth of CEE scholarship. Prizes will be awarded for the top few presenters!
  • Grounds tours and after-work social event on the Corner
  • Dinner at a faculty member’s home
  • Breakfast and SEAS events on Saturday

Finally, regarding the volunteer chair position: Sarah Bauer and Kassie Grimes have previously served in this role, and both have done wonderful jobs. Probably both would be eager to provide feedback and/or guidance on formulation of this year’s events. Please let me know if you will be willing to serve in this capacity.

Sarah Bauer was the winner of the inaugural CEE Graduate Research Symposium in February 2015, and later in the same semester, she also won UVERS. Her winning poster is currently on display in a place of honor in the Civil Commons. Who will be the next winner?!

We engineers are a “tacky” bunch

CEE graduate students, faculty, and staff joined together on Wednesday December 9 in the Eichenthal Room to celebrate the holiday season. New this year, the graduate students organized a contest to see who come up with the tackiest and/or most “festive” holiday attire. Attendees then voted for their favorite sweaters or other garb in two categories: students and faculty/staff. The winners were first- year graduate student Gail Moruza and Dr. Emily Parkany, Research Activities Coordinator for the Center for Transportation Studies. Each received a small prize. Congratulations to our winners!

Special thanks to Pat Gibson and Kim Allen for planning the party and to graduate students Kassie Grimes and Lizzie Engel for coordinating the context.

Dr. Emily Parkany (left) and graduate student Gail Moruza (right) were the winners of CEE’s first-ever “tacky sweater” contest. More photos are available on our website.

Finally, on a more personal note…

Warmest congratulations to graduate student Jeff Sadler and his wife Camilla on the birth of their first child, Andrew Jeffrey Sadler, who was born on November 21. Here’s what Jeff has to say regarding his initial impressions of parenthood while in graduate school:

Having a baby as a grad student, of course, has been a big adjustment. We’ve gotten a lot less sleep lately and our free time is pretty scarce. It’s been busy with lots of diaper changes, laundry, quieting, middle-of-the-night rocking, diaper changes, cleaning, and laundry. This made finishing up last semester pretty tough. Despite the new responsibility and reduced freedom, the new-dad perks have definitely made it worth it. Playing with Andrew and seeing his first smiles have been awesome! It’s always fun to come home and see him again. Also being a dad has really puts things in perspective. It has made the important things more important and the trivial things less attractive. It’s helped make my work as a graduate student more meaningful knowing that I need to be successful so I can adequately support Andrew for the next couple decades.

We send our best wishes to the entire Sadler family, and we look forward to meeting Andrew at upcoming departmental events!