Dr. Li Zhang received his BS/MS degree in railroad engineering in China and his MS in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Mississippi State University and he has been at MSU for more than 10 years.
Dr. Zhang has received university and college level awards for his contributions to transportation teaching and research. He has taught three undergraduate courses and more than five distinct graduate courses at MSU. He is the currently the major professor of five Ph.D. students.
Dr. Zhang has been awarded diversified research funding from AASHTO, FHWA, State DOT, DHS, etc. He is severing as CO-PI to manage a US DOT’s Tier I UTC, which MSU was awarded as the primary institute. His research interests include traffic signal control, traffic operations, connected vehicles, ITS, intermodal resilience, evacuations, and emergency transportation operations.
Dr. Zhang has just finished his one year sabbatical research at Saxton Transportation Operations Lab (STOL), FHWA’s research center near Washington DC where he conducted research incorporating traffic signal control with connected vehicle information. His sabbatical has brought multiple subcontracts to MSU from FHWA and he has continued his collaborations with STOL.
In addition to MSU’s research, Dr. Zhang is the principle of his private company, which has been awarded US DOT small business awards and other FHWA subcontracts. Currently, he is working with FHWA to promote a cloud based microscopic traffic simulation to the research and education community developed under the previously mentioned awards.
In recent years, Dr. Zhang has focused his research on traffic operations. With the emerging connected vehicle technology, Dr. Zhang has worked with Leidos Inc. and FHWA to advance traditional traffic signal control research to a new frontier that could potentially lead to a breakthrough to a new generation of traffic control. In his research, real time traffic data are acquired through a SPaT (Signal Phasing and Timing) system which will be inside future traffic signal control cabinet. The SPaT system is connected to a RSU (Roadside Unit) that receives accurate real time vehicle trajectory information every 1/10 of a second. He is also transferring the objective function from a delay based model to an emission and fuel consumption based model.
Dr. Zhang also has led a project to mitigate congestions at freeway merging area with an innovative Cycle Based Variable Speed Limited (CVSL). Simulation has indicated over delay reduction and throughput gains simultaneously, measured in the combined freeway and ramp sections. His team is further expanding the research to incorporate connected vehicle technologies.
Dr. Zhang is also working with US DOT to build a new generation of traffic simulators to incorporate the most advanced computing technologies, including parallel computing, distributed computing, mobile computing and cloud computing that could facilitate future traffic operations research. The research will provide a fundamental framework for US DOT’s future research, including connected vehicle research.
Dr. Zhang will also briefly describe his other research, such as Integrated Corridor Management, traffic network impact and disruption mitigation due to natural disaster such as earthquakes and hurricanes, transit evacuations and real time scheduling.