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CEE Ph.D. Student Alyssa Ryan Earns Research Grant from German Academic Exchange Program

Alyssa Ryan

Alyssa Ryan

Doctoral student Alyssa Ryan of the Transportation Program in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department has been awarded a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) One-Year Research Grant for Doctoral Candidates. According to a UMass News Office article, Ryan will conduct research at the Technical University of Munich in Germany on methods to achieve higher levels of highway safety. Her research stint is scheduled to begin in October of 2020.

The DAAD award provides doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists with a fully funded opportunity to carry out research and continue their education in Germany.

Ryan’s research project in Germany will investigate methods to achieve improved highway safety through the modeling of infrastructure, human behavior, survey data of German motorways, and the completion of government official interviews. Her research was inspired by the comparatively low fatal crash rates which exist in Germany, despite the fact that there are no speed limits on the federal motorway system, the Autobahn, and average speeds are in the 80 to 90 mph range.

“I have always wanted to connect with the German culture and learn from global leaders in transportation safety, human behavior, and roadway infrastructure,” said Ryan. “I know there is so much I can learn and bring back to the U.S. for my profession.”
According to Madalina Akli, director of the Office of International Scholarship Advisement, Ryan was also selected for a Fulbright Award but was unable to accept both the DAAD and Fulbright offers.

Ryan’s accomplished career in the CEE department has been highlighted by three other significant achievements.

In 2019 Ryan was awarded second place in the 2019 Excellence in Highway Safety Information Systems (HSIS) Data competition for her paper: “Evaluating Crash Type Likelihood at Various Traffic Control Devices: A Multinomial Logistic Regression Approach Using HSIS Data.” The HSIS award was created to introduce future highway safety professionals to HSIS safety data, the process of applying the appropriate research methods to derive recommendations, and the practice of using that data to make decisions.

More recently, Ryan was named a 2020 Traffic Safety Scholar and awarded a scholarship to attend the 38th annual Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Tampa, Florida. She is one of an elite group of 50 U.S. and international students selected through a competitive application process to attend the nation’s largest and oldest gathering of highway safety professionals.

Finally, in 2020, during the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition, hosted by the UMass School of Public Policy, Ryan was on the four-person winning team tackling the crucial question of how to create sustainable cities. Her team’s policies focused on reducing dependency on carbon-dioxide-emitting vehicles by investing in electric buses and creating alternatives such as more rail service, bike lanes, and pedestrian walkways, among other strategies.

As a member of the winning team, Ryan traveled to Dallas in March as a leadership team member to help run a larger competition in the same NASPAA series of such events. As she said about the Dallas trip, “That was a great learning experience from a leadership perspective.” (August 2020)