AUSTIN, Texas—Chandra Bhat, an associate professor of civil engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded an 18-month, $230,190 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how people change their inter-city and urban travel behavior in the aftermath of an extreme event, such as the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
“The essential idea is that a better understanding of how people react to extreme events would help us plan our transportation services better in the immediate and longer-term aftermath of an extreme event,” says Bhat. “This project uses my methodological idea to build realistic models of behavior so that we can predict travel behavioral shifts accurately.”
While the faltering airline industry clearly indicates a change in travel behavior, Bhat’s work will document not only the long-term, but the short-term choices made by disaster victims.
“The focus,” says Bhat, who will collaborate with Dr. Jose Holguin-Veras of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “is to try to see how people have changed their behavior after 9/11. In particular, we are studying if the way people are making travel mode choices (traveling by air, rail, bus or car) between cities has changed after 9/11.”
Bhat’s computer modeling of human behavior has fundamentally changed the ability to build realistic models of behavior in a broad number of disciplines. Shortly after he developed it, Daniel McFadden, the 2000 Economics Nobel laureate, cited it in his Nobel Prize article. Bhat’s methods of predicting human decisions in transportation are now applied routinely to problems in economics and marketing.
Bhat is the Fluor Centennial Teaching Fellow in Engineering.
For more information contact: Becky Rische, College of Engineering, 512-471-7272.