Hu Receives COTA Best Dissertation Award

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Dr. Songhua Hu, who received his Ph.D. in 2023 from the University of Maryland’s (UMD) transportation engineering program, has received the Best Dissertation Award from the Chinese Overseas Transportation Association (COTA). Hu received the award, which came with $1,000, at the January 2024 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Hu's dissertation, A Big-data Driven Framework for Spatiotemporal Travel Demand Estimation and Prediction, details an alternative to traditional travel demand models, which rely heavily on travel surveys, which tend to simplify future demand forecasting, and show low sensitivity in response to spatiotemporal dynamics. 

Hu’s study, by contrast, “proposes a customized deep-learning-driven framework based on mobile device location data (MDLD) for estimating and predicting large-scale travel demand at both individual and aggregated levels. Based on customized spatiotemporal AI, network science, cloud computing, and advanced statistics, he aims to monitor, learn, and forecast how each person (vehicle) moves in the city, and to understand how these movements interact with the transportation system, urban environment, and the whole society. 

Hu’s dissertation research was initially advised by former UMD professor Lei Zhang, and later by UMD Professor Paul Schonfeld.

Hu came to UMD in August 2019, after completing his M.S. degree at Tongji University in Shanghai. He defended his UMD dissertation in March 2023, by which time 15 of his journal papers had been accepted. He also won our CEE Department's Doctoral Research Award. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. 

Ph.D. students in transportation from the entire world, including China, compete for this award. Winners are selected by a committee of professors who are COTA members.

COTA, founded in 1996, is a non-profit professional organization that works to promote transportation development in China and brings together researchers with an interest in this area.

Published February 9, 2024