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What was your previous position and where?I was an engineer with the firm of JCK and Associates in Michigan. During my time at JCK, I was responsible for all of our roadway design and traffic analysis projects. Back then, one of our client communities passed a major bond resolution to upgrade their civil infrastructure systems, so I had a terrific opportunity to learn engineering from the ground up. While it was rewarding to see my ideas move from design to construction to actual operation, it was also nerve racking to see 10s of millions of dollars of materials, equipment and manpower working to build something that I was responsible for.
What brought you to LSU?Several things brought me to LSU. Initially, it was the inspirational recruiting by the department chairman at the time, Rick Avent, and another professor, Darcy Bullock. Despite completing a Ph.D., academia was a total mystery to me and presented an entirely different professional atmosphere and set of challenges from what I was used to. However, they were able to convince me of the enormous potential to make contributions to my profession and to guide the development of future generations of engineers beyond anything I could do working in professional practice. And they were right!
What is your research interest?Over the past deade or so, our work in the field of emergency transportation has made LSU the recognized leader in the research and development of evacuation traffic planning, management and operation techniques. Our work is known worldwide and we’ve worked with numerous federal, state and local agencies across the United States to help them prepare for an repsond during emergency evacuations. Through our relationships with the Los Alamos, Sandia and Argonne National Laboratories, we have also extended our work into cutting-edge computer-based simulation modeling of regional mutlimodal evacuation trasnportation processes. These models can simulate the processes of evacuations at scales and levels of detail that were unthinkable 10 years ago.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?I feel that despite our years of work, we have just begun to scratch the surface to address all of the needs and problems in the field. I look forward to continuing our work for many years to come with future graduate and undergraduate students, perhaps developing predictive models to forecast problems in real transportation networks before they actually happen. I also look forward to seeing my students graduate and go on to carry out work that is even better than the work I have done.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?The best thing about working at LSU is that it has given me an unrestricted opportunity to explore subjects of interest to me. Basically, I get paid to do the type of work and take on the projects that I want to do. What other employer gives an employee that kind of opportunity? As faculty we are fortunate to have such an opportunity. I also enjoy working with staff and students who are just as exictied and motivated as I am about our work.
What are your major accomplishments?My most important accomplishment has been passing knowledge that I’ve been able to gain onto students. I am hopeful that this understanding will allow them to l develop ideas and systems to make transportations safer and more efficient in the future. In terms of direct research accomplishments, I like to think that our work in evacuation has led to better ways of protecting lives during catastrophic emergencies. Our work in the analysis of contraflow has led to significant improvements to regional evacuation plans in both the United States and abroad. I feel that through my work with the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, I have also helped bring the topic of emergency evacuation planning and preparedness to the attention of officials who never realized it before and make the aware and help them adapt the latest knowledge to save lives. We still have a lot of work to do though!