InTrans / May 17, 2022

InTrans graduate student earns awards

Archana Venkatachalapathy

Archana Venkatachalapathy, a doctoral student at the Institute for Transportation (InTrans), recently earned two awards for her work on a naturalistic driving study to understand the impacts of stress under real-world driving conditions in India.

Venkatachalapathy received the Jan Kibbe Student Scholarship and earned second place in the Thomas J. Seburn Student Paper Award, both from the Institute of Transportation Engineers Missouri Valley District (MOVITE). She has been a member of the ITE student chapter, Transportation Student Association—including serving in executive positions during her tenure—since her admission to Iowa State University (ISU) in 2017.

“I am elated and honored to receive these awards. These are my first awards for academic achievement during my Ph.D., and it is a special feeling winning them over a project conducted in my hometown,” said Venkatachalapathy, who previously got her master’s degree at ISU. “I was lucky enough to have this experience of applying my knowledge to the transportation system in my country very early on in my career.”

The Jan Kibbe Student Scholarship is intended to encourage engineering students to pursue a career in traffic or transportation engineering. This is the second year in a row that InTrans students have won the award, with recent graduate A.M. Tahsin Emtenan and current doctoral student Dorcas Okaidjah tying for first place in 2021.

The Thomas J. Seburn Student Paper Award is meant to encourage MOVITE student members to conduct and report on independent and original research and investigation of transportation subjects and to provide a means for recognizing accomplishments in this area.

Venkatachalapathy’s paper is titled “A Naturalistic Data-Driven Study of Indian Traffic Conditions and Driver’s Physiological Stress.” It summarizes her work in 2019 as a visiting scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM). While there, she participated in the data collection of naturalistic driving data under Indian traffic conditions in her hometown of Chennai, Tamilnadu.

“This study is the first of its kind conducted in India to assess the factors impacting driver stress that can be improved to create a stress-free traffic environment for drivers,” said Venkatachalapathy, who led the data analysis efforts on the project.

“This project falls right under the wing of the domain I am dealing with for my Ph.D. dissertation. Hence, analyzing its application across two different countries and two different kinds of transportation systems was an enriching learning experience,” said Venkatachalapathy.

She added, “I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Anuj Sharma, who has been a pillar of support, nudging me toward exciting opportunities and expanding the horizon for applying transportation concepts. I would also like to thank Dr. Lelitha Devi, a professor at IITM, whose support was also instrumental in completing this work.”

Sharma, however, gave all the credit to Venkatachalapathy.

“She is a self-motivated researcher and has been instrumental in designing, executing, analyzing, and documenting multiple research projects,” said Sharma.