Abhilash SinghTransport Section
Supervised by Dr. Aruna Sivakumar

Prior to starting his PhD, Abhilash completed an M.S. in Transportation Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, USA, and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay, India. Abhilash was awarded with a Department Dixon scholarship and a departmental scholarship aligned with a Wellcome Trust Project to undertake his studies.

Why did you decide to do a PhD in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering?
In addition to mathematical depth and rigor, doing a PhD in Transportation Engineering offers a rich treasure of real-world problems that are interdisciplinary in nature. Doing a PhD is providing me with an opportunity to explore the discipline to a greater depth and at the same time enabling me to perform supervised and collaborative research.

Tell us about your PhD research
My research encompasses: 1. Use of discrete-choice models to understand the human behavior and perceptions of travel time, comfort, and safety; 2. Development of econometric methodologies to address endogeneity issues in land-use and transportation decisions; 3. Compare and contrast random utility theory with other economic theories such as regret theory, etc., 4. The use of machine learning (ML) models in travel and energy-efficiency research by complementing and supplementing the limited-dependent variables’ models.

What impact do you hope you research will have/what do you hope your research will lead on to?
Through my research, I aim to draw from recent techniques in econometrics, machine learning, and causal inference, to remove methodological limitations on the decision-making processes that could be represented and predicted with previously available discrete choice methods. Substantively, this research aims to lead us to ‘healthy equitable cities’ through gaining a better understanding of the impacts of accessibility to education, healthcare and leisure within the context of residential location.

Does your research involve working with collaborators outside of the Department? If so who and why?
Doing econometrical analysis of socio-psychological and economic theories in travel behaviour research provides exciting collaboration opportunities across various disciplines. We are collaborating with Professor Majid Ezzati in the School of Public Health, and our emphasis is to analyse the effect of combinations of location of home, transportation options and provision of services to determine mobility and access to healthcare services.

What is a typical week like for you?
A typical week includes meetings with my supervisor to discuss the progress and research ideas, meeting with research associates to work on collaborative research, reading relevant recent publications, working on methodological strategies, developing codes and reading econometric textbooks.

How have your skills developed, both professional and personal?
The Graduate school provides a great environment to work on collaborations, self-discipline, and having the courage to dive into the unknown aspects of research. I am grateful to have this opportunity to work on my mathematical, computational, inter-personal and communication skills. I am focussed on enhancing my technical and soft skills, which are essential for a research-oriented career.

What do you enjoy most about being a PhD in the Department?
I enjoy the academic challenge with great supervision, plenty of enthusiasm and an environment which motivates excellence. Most importantly, I feel part of a community with a sense of belonging.