2014 Student Participation in Research

A specific workforce development component is required for all research projects funded by the ATLAS Center at UMTRI and TTI. Funded researchers provide a work plan describing how students will engage in the research.

Students currently participating in ATLAS Research are:

Nathan Schulz Photo

Nathanial Shulz

Nathan Schulz is a Student Technician at the Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division at TTI.  He is currently an undergraduate at Texas A&M University studying Civil Engineering.  He plans to attend graduate school after finishing his undergraduate work and pursuing a Masters of Engineering degree at Texas A&M.  Nathan wants to specialize in the discipline of Structures and wants to be involved in designing buildings and infrastructure.  He joined the TTI team in August 2013.  He currently assists Dr. Chiara Silvestri Dobrovolny with her research by writing reports, performing finite element analysis, performing literature reviews, and helping with any other necessary tasks.

Marco Benedetti UM-Photo

Marco Benedetti

Marco is originally from Columbus, OH.  He is currently getting his M.S. in Biostatistics at the University of Michigan, and is hoping to continue with the Ph. D. program.  He is interested in researching the use of spatial methods in infectious disease or other epidemiological data.

Marco has been working with Daniel Blower on evaluating the impact of Advance Crash Avoidance Technologies on crash outcomes such as injury severity in large trucks.

 Sharanya Rao Photo

Sharanya Rao

Sharanya Mohan Rao is a graduate student worker at the Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division at TTI. She holds Bachelor’s degree in Civil engineering from Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, India. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Structural engineering at Texas A & M University (TAMU), College station. Her previous work experience includes duties as a Research Assistance at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, where she performed non-destructive testing (NDR) of a new pavement material using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) on highway pavements and analyzed the data using GPR-Max 3D. She was also employed as a Student Grader for Design of Steel in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 at TAMU. She joined the TTI team in May 2014. She is currently involved in a study of heavy truck crashworthiness using finite element tools and evaluation of an anthropomorphic occupant dummy behavior. She is also assisting in computer modelling and evaluation for finite element situations involving the design and the application of roadside safety appurtenances. Her research interests focus on Roadside safety applications and testing and related biomechanical occupant risk evaluations using finite element analysis and simulation tools.

Tessa Elwart - Student2
Tessa Elwart

Tessa is a transfer student from Washtenaw Community College and started in research through the U-M Summer UROP Research program.  Her interest in cars stems from her dad working at GM. She is entering her senior year at U-M and will graduate with a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering December 2015. One of her leading interests is people.  She loves helping and interacting with people which ultimately led to her interest in research.  It seemed to be a perfect match for Tessa to work on a project at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) in the Driver Interface Group.   The current project she is working on has to do with estimating task times while using a navigation-radio.  These task times determine if that task is excessively distracting.  This information can be used to change the design of navigation-radios to become less distracting and reduce distraction-affected crashes.  After graduating, Tessa plans on getting a job to gain more experience and will ultimately return to graduate school with a better idea of focus for her area of study. Tessa is a member of the flag line in the Michigan Marching Band and coaches volleyball for Huron Valley Volleyball Club.  In her free time, she loves playing volleyball, walking in the woods, and spending time with her friends and family.

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Abhinav P. Mohanakrishnan

Abhinav P Mohanakrishnan is a graduate student worker at the Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division at TTI. He holds a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from SRM University, India during which he underwent a study abroad at University of Wisconsin at Madison for one semester. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Structural Engineering and also has previous internship experience with large scale infrastructure and residential companies that contributed to the strengthening of his practical knowledge in the field of civil engineering. He has been part of the evolving and challenging TTI team since May 2014. He is currently involved in pre-processing finite element models on LS-PrePost and optimizing mesh definition using HyperMesh.


Douglas Roehler

Douglas Roehler, MPH, earned his Master of Public Health from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is currently a first-year doctoral student in the same department. As part of his current research experience, he is part of the Young Driver and Injury Prevention Group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. His research interests include reducing health inequalities generally, and injury prevention specifically, all through a behavioral change lens.

After earning his MPH, Douglas served for two years as a public health contractor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention. He focused on global injury prevention issues, mainly global road safety and researched injury prevention in Botswana, China, Cambodia, Thailand, South Africa, Uganda, as well as domestically. His primary role at CDC was to evaluate the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative in Uganda and Cambodia—a motorcycle helmet health intervention; additionally, Douglas was heavily involved in the evaluation of the injury surveillance systems in Cambodia and Thailand.

He is currently working with Anuj Pradhan and Lisa Buckley on their project Risk-taking behaviors and pre-frontal cortex activity of male adolescents in the presence of peer passengers during simulated driving: A functional nearinfrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) study

ConnieX Photo

Connie Xavier

Connie Xavier is a civil engineering student at Texas A&M University. She is expected to graduate May 2016. She started working for Texas A&M Transportation Institute in January 2014 under the Traffic Operations and Roadside Safety Division. She helped run a study on wrong-way driving countermeasures for night-time intoxicated drivers, focusing on highway exit ramps. The research involved studying the effects that different warning symbols and signs had on intoxicated drivers.  Currently, she works for Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division as a Student Technician. She joined in June 2014. She is involved with a UTC Atlas project that is in collaboration with University of Michigan’s Transportation institute. The project aims at evaluating occupant risks and passive restraints for heavy truck drivers in frontal impacts and rollover crashes. Specifically, she is now accessing the risk factors and effectiveness of airbags and how their implementation into heavy trucks will affect occupant safety, as the use of airbags is rare in heavy trucks and can be hard to apply.

George Gillette Photo

George Gillette

George is enrolled as a sophomore in Texas A&M University’s B.S. program in Civil Engineering. He reduces data for Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) as a student worker. He has worked in applications of image processing for improved data reduction and statistical analysis for a variety of transportation projects. Outside of TTI, he pursues Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) proposals to gain real-world experience in the fields of engineering and basic business management in order to expand his educational horizons. He is both an Engineering Honors and University Honors student. Currently, he is working as a Sophomore Advisor in the University Honors program and helps freshmen in their transition to Texas A&M University. Additionally, he is a project leader in Engineers Without Borders for the Personal Energy Transport project, designed to help the disabled in third-world countries. Beyond university extra-curricular activities, he enjoys reading classic literature and poetry, competitive sports, and playing piano.

Sangyong You Photo

Sangyong You

Sangyong is a Graduate Research Assistant in Work Zone & DMS Program group at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and a PhD student of Civil Engineering at the Texas A&M University. He holds a MS degree in Transportation Engineering from the University of Seoul with a specific focus on traffic data analysis. He has worked on various transportation projects including traffic safety analysis, safety enhancements for vulnerable users, and road safety for pedestrians. His primary roles at TTI have included data reduction and analysis of the alcohol-impaired closed-course driving data.  When not working, Sangyong enjoys playing soccer, basketball, and baseball.


The ATLAS Center is a collaboration between the University of Michigan (U-M) Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and Texas A&M Transportation Institute