Who We Are

Deborah Salon

Associate Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University

Salon studies transportation in cities with the goal of better understanding of how these systems work, and how policies and smart investments might improve them. The methods she uses range from qualitative, interview-based research to advanced econometric analysis. Dr. Salon holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis. Before joining the faculty at ASU, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and subsequently held a research appointment at UC Davis’s Institute of Transportation Studies.

Sybil Derrible

Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Materials Engineering and Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois

Sybil Derrible is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering and the Department of Computer Science (by courtesy), a Research Associate Professor at the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, and the Director of the Complex and Sustainable Urban Networks (CSUN) Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research is at the nexus of urban metabolism, infrastructure planning, data science, and complexity science to redefine how cities are planned, designed, and operated for smart, sustainable, and resilient urban systems. He is the author of the textbook Urban Engineering for Sustainability (MIT Press, 2020) and he is an Associate Editor for the ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems and for Cleaner Production Letters.

Ram Pendyala

Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University

Ram Pendyala is a professor of transportation and Director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University where he has been on the faculty since 2006.  Between 2014 and 2016, he served on the faculty at Georgia Tech. Prior to 2006, he served for 12 years as a faculty member at the University of South Florida.  Pendyala is an expert in travel behavior analysis and modeling, and is currently working on a number of projects related to behavioral impacts of emerging transportation technologies and mobility services.  He is directing a USDOT-sponsored Tier 1 University Transportation Center called TOMNET that is developing new methods for forecasting mobility choices.  Pendyala has held a number of leadership positions with the Transportation Research Board and International Association for Travel Behaviour Research.

Kouros Mohammadian

Professor, Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, University of Illinois

Abolfazl “Kouros” Mohammadian is a Professor of Transportation Systems and Head of Civil and Materials Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research has covered various areas of transportation planning including travel behavior analysis, travel surveys, agent-based microsimulation models, and freight and logistics modeling. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Letters, and currently serves as the Chair of the “Traveler Behavior and Values” committee of TRB.

Denise Baker

Ph.D., E.I.T., School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University

Denise received her degree in Civil Engineering in 2015 from University of São Paulo (EESC-USP), with a special studies certificate in Transportation Engineering. She received a full scholarship from Science Without Borders to study for one year at University of Illinois at Chicago during 2013. She also has her master’s degree in Transportation Engineering and Planning from the University of São Paulo (2017). For her PhD (2021), Denise studied the impacts of attitudes on travel behavior, and perceptions towards the future of transportation, such as autonomous vehicles. Denise was awarded the Jenny Grote student leadership award by Arizona ITE in 2020 for her contributions to the ITE ASU Student Chapter. She has also received a fellowship from the International Road Federation January 2020. Currently, Denise is a Senior Transportation Designer at Y2K Engineering LLC, in Mesa, Arizona.

Ehsan Rahimi

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, University of Illinois

Ehsan Rahimi is a Ph.D. Candidate and Research Assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently, he is working in the Translab laboratory focusing on the resiliency of the public transit system, Micro-mobility (e.g., shared E-scooters), and travel behavior during outbreaks (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic). Those projects are funded by various federal and state agencies such as the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT).

Matthew Bhagat-Conway

Assistant Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning and Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Matthew Bhagat-Conway is an Assistant Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests are in travel behavior, urban transportation, and statistical methods for transportation data analysis. Dr. Bhagat-Conway has a PhD and MA in Geography from Arizona State University, and a BA in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has also worked in industry as a software developer.

Ali Shamshiripour

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, University of Illinois Chicago

Ali Shamshiripour is a PhD Candidate and Research Assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago. With a major focus on planning towards the resident-centric Smart Cities, his research covers multiple dimensions of sustainability, resiliency, safety, and the emergence of new transportation technologies . His research incorporates travel behavior theories, econometrics and machine learning approaches, as well as agent-based travel behavior modeling and micro-simulation.

Laura Mirtich

Masters Student, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University

Laura Mirtich is studying environmental policy at Arizona State University and has been working as a student researcher for the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning since 2019. Her interests lie in sustainable transportation systems and policies which encourage low-carbon travel. Her work for the COVID Future project has focused on the stability of attitudes over time, the changing status of remote work during the pandemic, and the future of the restaurant industry.

Rishabh Chauhan

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil, Materials, and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois

Rishabh Chauhan is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Civil, Materials, Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a member of the Complex and Sustainable Urban Networks (CSUN) laboratory. His research interests include Transportation Planning, Application of Machine Learning to Transportation Related Problems, Statistical and Econometric Modeling, Public Transit, and Autonomous Vehicles. He graduated with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering in 2019 from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

Sara Khoeini

Assistant Research Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University

Khoeini studies the underlying dynamics between users and transport systems to enhance wellbeing, sustainability, and efficiency and eventually benefit society. Khoeini is an assistant research professor of transportation systems in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). She is also the assistant director of a USDOT Tier 1 University Transportation Center (UTC) called TOMNET (Teaching Old Models New Tricks). She got her PhD in 2014 from Georgia Institute of Technology in Transportation Systems Engineering.

Holden Weisman

Undergraduate Student, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University.

Holden is an undergraduate student at Arizona State University. He is majoring in Urban Planning, studying at the School of Geographic Sciences and Urban Planning. He is interested in pursuing a career in city planning. Holden is a regular contributor to the COVID Future blog, as well as offering supporting research to the project.

Tassio Magassy

Ph.D. Student, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University

Tassio is a Ph.D. candidate and research associate in the School of Sustainable Engineering and Built Environment at Arizona State University. Member of the TOMNET Lab, his research areas include travel behavior, transportation equity, shared mobility, and emerging technologies in transportation.


Mohammadjavad Javadinasr

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, University of Illinois

 Mohammadjavad is a Ph.D. candidate and a research assistant at the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His research interests encompass econometric analysis, applications of data-driven analysis in transportation studies, Micro-mobility (e.g., shared E-scooters), and optimization of transit systems. His work for the COVID Future project is focused on the long-term impacts of the pandemic on activity and travel behavior and the future of urban mobility. 

Nicole Corcoran

Ph.D. Student, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University

Nicole Corcoran is a PhD Student in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Her interests are in transportation planning, vehicle technologies, transportation equity, and data science. She graduated with a Masters degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Iowa in 2021. Prior to coming to ASU, she was a research assistant at the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), as well as the Injury Prevention Research Center. 

Yalda Mohammadi

Ph.D. Student, Department of Civil and Materials Engineering, University of Illinois

Motahare (Yalda) Mohammadi is a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She received her bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the Sharif University of Technology in Iran. Her research interests include the application of statistical and machine learning models in the analysis of travel behavior and the performance of transportation systems. She studied the potential persistence of telecommuting after the pandemic and the impacts of COVID-19 on other travel-related behaviors including mode choice, online shopping, E-learning, and air travel. She is also working on other projects, such as Improving Argonne National Lab’s activity-based framework, travel behavior in the era of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and adopting new mobilities

Abbie Dirks

Masters Student, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University

Abbie is a master’s student and research associate in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. She works in the TOMNET Lab, and her research interests include travel behavior and attitudes, shared mobility, perceptions towards emerging transportation technologies, and transportation equity.

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