Xiaobo Ma is a Ph.D. Candidate from the University of Arizona. His major is Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Transportation Engineering and a minor in Statistics and Data Science. He is a recipient of the Jenny L. Grote Student Leadership Award this year, which recognizes an exemplary graduate ITE student chapter member who has shown exceptional dedication to the transportation profession through ITE service, mentoring, research, real-world experience, and other noteworthy accomplishments. He has written multiple journal papers and won several influential awards in the U.S. and China, and has worked on many hands-on and practical research projects for public agencies in Arizona.

Connect with Xiaobo on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

I am a Ph.D. Candidate from the University of Arizona. I am a fast learner, a team player, and a passionate researcher aiming to apply statistical and machine learning methods to solve complex and practical problems in the field of transportation engineering. In my free time, I love swimming and traveling.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

Under my advisor Dr. Yao-Jan Wu’s supervision, I have been involved in several research projects and doing solid practical and theoretical research in developing local, regional, and national...

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Dr. Joey Iuliano of the University of Arizona, a 2020 NITC dissertation fellow who earned his Ph.D. in 2021, has published a journal article in the March 2022 issue of Cogent Social Sciences: Where and how Tucsonans ride and implications for cycling infrastructure

Drawing from cycling ethnographic work, Dr. Iuliano used video recordings of three groups of cyclists (commuter, recreational, and athletic) in Tucson, AZ, to contextualize their movements and interactions with the built environment, drivers, and other cyclists. Cycling can be utilitarian for commuters and a social, leisure, and athletic activity for recreational and athletic riders. Depending on their reason for riding, cyclists utilize infrastructure to suit their needs and protect themselves from drivers. Confidence levels also influence where and how people ride. For example:

  • Commuters rode defensively and sought out less-trafficked facilities.
  • Recreational riders rode solo on paths and in groups on open roads.
  • Athletic riders claimed space from drivers by riding in packs while being mindful of group safety.

Video ethnography helps improve the understanding of the different reasons for cycling and those experiences. With this information, planners can provide more accurate maps and overcome pushback from some cyclists by designing...

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce our newest Dissertation Fellow, Austin Drukker of the University of Arizona, who was awarded $15,000 for his doctoral research project: How Essential is Essential Air Service? A Welfare Analysis of Airport Access for Remote Communities

Mr. Drukker will study the welfare implications of Essential Air Service (EAS), a federal government program that provides subsidies to airlines that provide commercial service from remote communities. Congress established EAS after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which domestic markets to serve and which fares to charge, fearing that the newly deregulated airlines would shift their operations to serve large, profitable markets, leaving remote communities without access to the national passenger airline network and the markets and opportunities that come along with such access. By combining novel data containing information on airline passengers’ home location with cutting-edge econometric techniques, Mr. Drukker will study the value that EAS community members place on having access to their community airport as revealed by their actual choices. Mr. Drukker’s preliminary findings suggest that passengers who live in communities with subsidized service have a plethora of choices available to them and many if not...

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In recent years, shared electric scooters (e-scooters) have taken cities around the world by storm. But how are people using this new mode of transportation? Seeking to understand the potential impacts of e-scooters on land use, infrastructure and sustainability goals, researchers have some new interesting data to share on e-scooter users, exploring the interplay between demographics, behaviors and trip purposes.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and led by Kristina Currans and Nicole Iroz-Elardo of the University of Arizona and Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, the study combines a user survey with on-the-ground observations to characterize the use and safety of e-scooters. The research team also included students Dong-ah Choi,...

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The 101st annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is coming up January 9 - 13, 2022, and has returned to an in-person gathering in Washington, D.C. Supported by funding from the U.S. DOT, research from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities will be featured at this annual gathering.

Below we've rounded up some highlights of research being presented by transportation experts from our participating NITC-funded campuses: Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), University of Utah (UU), University of Arizona (UA), and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Please check out our full NITC guide for all of the sessions:

*Due to the evolving status of speaker attendance and TRB programming for next week, please check your TRB schedule for the most current information in the event...

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Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) need traffic data to run smoothly. At intersections, where there is the greatest potential for conflicts between road users, being able to reliably and intelligently monitor the different modes of traffic is crucial.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that more than 50 percent of the combined total of fatal and injury crashes occur at or near intersections. For pedestrians the intersection is a particularly dangerous place: the City of Portland, Oregon identified that two-thirds of all crashes involving a pedestrian happen at intersections. And when darkness comes earlier in fall and winter, crashes increase dramatically. So knowing what's going on in low-visibility conditions is essential for mobility and safety of all road users.

Some agencies use cameras to monitor traffic modes, but cameras are limited in rainy, dark or foggy conditions. Some cities use radar instead of cameras, which works better in low-visibility but typically can't provide as rich a picture of what's going on. Conventional radar gives movement and position data for all...

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We're proud to announce the publication of a new NITC dissertation: "Pedal the Old Pueblo: A Naturalistic Study on Bicycling in Tucson, AZ," by Joey Iuliano of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

"There are many different reasons to ride a bike – commuting, recreational riding, and athletic pursuits are a few. This dissertation work highlights the need to understand how different types of cyclists interact with the built environment and their experiences with other road users. Utilizing video cameras helps fill in this gap by capturing their lived experiences throughout the course of a ride. Coupling this footage with larger datasets, such as annual bicycle counts or Strava, can show planners where there are issues with safety and infrastructure design, how many others may be experiencing those issues, and helps with targeted improvements," Iuliano said. 

City investments in bicycle infrastructure can improve residents' health and wellness, lower pollution, fight climate change, and reduce congestion. While transportation geography and planning have long focused on looking at how vehicles, goods, and services move across a region, there is a growing body of research focused on the movement of people through a city.

Iuliano's dissertation uses both the City of Tucson and Pima County, Arizona – a region of low-density development, traditionally focused on the car and now...

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The National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) research consortium, led by Portland State University, has awarded $530,419 in total funding for seven new research projects spanning five universities. With the extension of the FAST Act, NITC received one additional year of funding, and given this limited time frame, we emphasized projects that were relatively short in length, relied on existing expertise, and would yield specific outputs and outcomes. Several of the projects have an equity focus, and much of the research aims to make it easier to get around multimodally and/or by walking. The seven new projects are:

Led by Danya Rumore of the University of Utah and Philip Stoker of the University of Arizona
  • Rumore and Stoker focus on the unique transportation challenges of 'gateway' communities, or small towns adjacent to natural areas that attract large populations. Their previous...
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Ash Avila, a 2022 TRB Minority Student Fellow, will be a junior this fall in the Sustainable Built Environment undergraduate program at the University of Arizona. She is working with NITC researchers Ladd KeithNicole Iroz-Elardo and Kristina Currans looking at the intersection of transportation and heat as it relates to climate adaptation planning for active travelers. This summer, Ash is working on analyses related to exploring transportation infrastructure and environmental influences of thermal comfort and evaluating some potential mitigations.

Connect with Ash on LinkedIn

Tell us about yourself?

I’m a third year student at the University of Arizona majoring in Sustainable Built Environments with a minor in Spanish. I grew up in a small Southern Arizona border town which led to my interest in urban design, especially in communities with majority Latino populations. In my free time, I work in a small community garden and love to crochet.

What (or who) has influenced your...

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How can we use a variety of data-driven speed management strategies to make transportation safer and more efficient for all modes–whether you’re driving, walking or taking transit?

The project was led by Yao Jan Wu, director of the Smart Transportation Lab at the University of Arizona. Co-investigators were Xianfeng Terry Yang of the University of Utah, who researches traffic operations and modeling along with connected automated vehicles, and Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University, whose research has focused on improving signal timing to better serve pedestrians. Join them on Sept 15, 2021 for a free webinar to learn more.

"We want to improve mobility for all users, be it pedestrians, vehicle drivers or transit riders, and there are different strategies to do this. How do we harness data to drive us to these strategies?" Kothuri said.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), this multi-university collaboration addressed the question from three angles:

  • Wu and his students in Arizona looked at the impact of speed management strategies on conventional roadways...
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