Since childhood, Jingqin Gao, PhD, has been fascinated with the movement, energy, and volume of mass transit systems, inspired by her father, who worked as a transportation professor. To her, public transit is one of the most brilliant inventions that makes people’s lives easier. For these reasons, she loves the subway, doesn’t drive cars, and lives in New York City. Today, Dr. Gao, a senior research associate at New York University (NYU), is motivated by what she sees on the street that she believes negatively impacts most people and works daily to find possible solutions.
As a senior research associate, Dr. Gao is responsible for working with her director, serving as a research project manager, bridging program work between the director and students, managing a team of five to 10 researchers, writing reports, leading presentations, and coordinating outreach with external organizations, industry partners, and decisionmakers. Her areas of expertise include studying emerging trends in the main transportation system, machine learning via artificial intelligence solutions in transportation, automated vehicles, and computer vision work.
Before becoming a research scientist, Dr. Gao was a student aide in NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, a research assistant, and is also an assistant director of research at the C2SMART Center at NYU. She also spent time as a traffic engineer and transportation intern at United Research Services Corporation; a traffic engineer for the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT); a data analyst at the central operation control center and ticket center for Shanghai Metro in Shanghai, China; and an analyst intern and information center intern for the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority in Shanghai. Having attended the Shanghai Foreign Language School, Dr. Gao holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Science in transportation planning and engineering from NYU and a Bachelor of Science in physics from Tongji University in Shanghai.
One of Dr. Gao’s most vital future-planning duties while working at the NYCDOT was in the base modeling and data analysis unit, where she created and updated the traffic simulation models for midtown Manhattan and all of New York City. She has been honored by the transportation industry and continues to network with professionals within and outside of her field. In 2019, she received the Dr. Louis J. Pignataro Memorial Transportation Education Award from the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Legacy Leadership Award from the Women’s Transportation Seminar, both in Washington, D.C.
Looking to the future, Dr. Gao is developing a mobile app for people with vision disabilities to help them navigate signalized intersections. She has assembled 25 volunteer participants to test the app. Ultimately, Dr. Gao wants to maximize her experiences gained in industry, research, and technology to gain a comprehensive and exact understanding of the public’s transportation needs and provide them with better practical and equitable solutions.