Research & Practice

Transportation & Community Engagement

As a 2018-20 WFU ACE Fellow, I used my background in civil engineering and city planning in community-based contexts through partnerships with Boston Thurmond United, MIXXER Community Makerspace, Piedmont Environmental Alliance, and Forsyth Country Day School. My research and practice relate to transportation access and people's lived experiences with the built environment. I led an interdisciplinary undergraduate student research teams at Wake Forest that is collaborating with residents to use walking interviews as tools for neighborhood-led audits of accessibility and infrastructure. I extended that work as a 2019-20 Faculty Fellow of the Spatial Justice Studio at the Center for Design Innovation (CDI).

My work in Winston-Salem is a continuation of collaborative, creative projects that I started as a Founder of the Applied Research Collaborative (ARC) at James Madison University. ARC was a transdisciplinary group of faculty exploring the transformation of physical spaces and sustainable placemaking through engaged teaching, scholarship, and service.

Design Education

I am interested in how students and experts tackle complex problems and currently lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers at three institutions for a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored project to help students apply their sustainable design knowledge (i.e., technical, environmental, economic, social dimensions) to complex, engineering problems such as the ones they encounter during capstone design.

A project goal is to improve assessment of students’ abilities to apply sustainability concepts across different engineering problems or design challenges using cognitive flexibility theory (CFT) and related constructs. Cognitive flexibility is our mental ability to quickly switch between different concepts or to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. This is a crucial part of solving complex problems because frequently there are multiple facets to each problem which need to be considered and evaluated before the problem can be solved. As part of this project, our team is exploring the use of brain monitoring technology (e.g, EEG or fNIRS) to understand how students develop cognitive flexibility.

I also consult on educational research projects related to entrepreneurial mindset and climate change/resilience.

Sustainable Transportation Systems

During my PhD work, advisors and I developed the first national guidebook to help agencies incorporate sustainability into the transportation planning process. The FHWA-sponsored Transportation Planning for Sustainability Guidebook was based on a national survey of state DOTs and a review of international practices, and was well-received by transportation practitioners. My dissertation research was an extension of the guidebook work and resulted in a self-assessment method to help transportation agencies easily identify, prioritize and implement sustainability best practices. I was awarded a full USDOT Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship to support my dissertation research.

After Georgia Tech, my research evolved into projects related to sustainability evaluation and rating systems, with a focus on social sustainability. I enjoy mentoring students on research projects, honors theses, and capstone projects that either connect to national and international transportation practices OR focus on local design and practice.

I am actively involved in shaping transportation research at the national level as the Research Coordinator for the Transportation Research Board's Standing Committee for Transportation Planning, Policy and Processes (AEP10), NCHRP Panel for the Asset Management Guidebook, and the Editorial Board for the Transportation Research Record journal.