PhD Candidate in Transportation Systems Analysis and Planning
Monika Filipovska is a PhD candidate in the Transportation Systems Analysis and Planning program in the McCormick School of Engineering. Her current research focuses on modeling travel time reliability in transportation networks and finding reliable paths and routing solutions with access to en-route information. Monika was awarded a best presentation award at the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems and the 2020 Graduate Scholarship Award by the Illinois Institute of Transportation Engineers.
How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
I study various aspects of modeling transportation networks and intelligent transportation systems, as well as the use of emerging connected and automated vehicle and infrastructure technologies in transportation. I have worked on problems such as traffic modeling and prediction and using road sensor data to detect the onset of congestion and prevent it. My current research is focused on reliable adaptive routing solutions. For example, suppose your favorite routing app—maybe Waze or Google Maps—could provide reliable information about the paths you can choose to travel. If you are going to the airport, you may wish to choose the path that has the highest likelihood of on-time arrival. I also am focusing on making these solutions adaptive so the suggested best path changes as new information is received during the trip that impacts the predictions for future travel times along the way.
What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career?
One of the most memorable turns in my career was when I decided to pursue a PhD in the field of transportation engineering. As an undergraduate, I wanted to continue my graduate education in math. I was double majoring in mathematics and urban systems engineering with a focus on smart cities. While I was fascinated by the latter, I have always been drawn to rigorous mathematics. It was through the work of my undergraduate thesis advisor, Dr. Saif Jabari, that I was able to see how both of the topics I was studying came together. I realized that I could use math to solve so many of the intriguing problems in smart cities, and transportation specifically. Working with him enticed me to change my plans for graduate school, and I am incredibly grateful for his mentorship during my final year as an undergraduate.
Whom do you admire in your field and otherwise, and why?
The first person that comes to mind is my adviser, Dr. Mahmassani. His work has had a great impact on so many areas of transportation engineering over the last several decades. I am always fascinated by his enthusiasm to try novel ideas and approaches while maintaining his commitment to producing academically rigorous, quality work.
What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?
The operation and management of transportation systems impact all levels of our society: accessibility and mobility affect the quality of life of individuals, the reliability and efficiency of transportation networks impact the costs of business and industries, and at a high level, the performance of transportation systems affects the sustainability and safety of entire communities. Additionally, emerging vehicle and infrastructure technologies and the data they produce have the potential to transform the way cities operate, making them more efficient and flexible and creating benefits for our whole society.
Northwestern has one of the best transportation programs in the U.S. An important factor in making my decision was my choice of a PhD adviser. I met Professor Mahmassani at a transportation conference, and I had the chance to talk to him about his research and the resources that Northwestern offers before even applying to graduate school.
Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.
In the fall, I was excited to be selected as a visiting fellow at a great program on Mathematical Challenges and Opportunities for Autonomous Vehicles at the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) at the University of California, Los Angeles. Although I wish the program could have been conducted in-person, IPAM did a terrific job at ensuring we gained as much of the ‘in-residence’ experience as possible virtually. I am currently organizing a workshop on ‘Next Generation Transportation Networks’ for the 2021 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems. I am really looking forward to chairing this session, learning about the work of our excellent invited speakers, and presenting my new research.
Published: March 23, 2021
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