PhD Student’s Research Could Affect Traffic, Road Safety

Sogand Karbalaieali, a PhD student in the LSU Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, has spent most of her life in her hometown of Tehran, Iran, a megacity with a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week traffic problem.

Since arriving in Louisiana, particularly Baton Rouge, several years ago to pursue her doctorate in civil engineering, she laughs at complaints about congestion in the capital city.

“(In Baton Rouge), there is no traffic problem. You just need patience,” Karbalaieali jokes. “In Tehran, there are traffic jams even at 3 a.m.”

Karbalaieali’s thesis research topic is focused on the emerging technology of vehicle communication – the communication between vehicles, pedestrians and infrastructure. Particularly, she is investigating the application of this technology to improve highway operations in a connected environment. With the expectation that automated vehicles will be in wider use as early as 2020, she says it is important to come up with intelligent transportation solutions based on the potential benefits of these vehicles.

“Studying transportation engineering provides people and goods movement in urban and rural areas with safety, cost efficiency and comfort,” Karbalaieali said. “Utilizing vehicle communication and automation technology could enhance traffic operation. However, the application of automated vehicles needs to be investigated for different uses. Examples are awareness, emergency braking and merging assistance. My research is utilizing the communication advancement in highway operations to optimize merging.”

Recently, Karbalaieali’s ePortfolio was one of the top five selected from around the country by the National Operations Center of Excellence, resulting in in a free trip to the Transportation Research Board Annual meeting in Washington, D.C. There, competition winners have a chance to meet with the NOCoE director and board members, as well as attend workshops, learn more from leaders in academia and industry, network, and most importantly, present their work.

And if she returns with solutions to the traffic issues in Baton Rouge and other major cities in Louisiana, that won’t hurt either.

By Joshua Duplechain, Director of Communications

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