- Course: PhD in Transport Studies
- PhD title: A Stochastic process model for the evolution of On-Demand Ride service system
- Nationality: Japanese
Haruko is conducting her PhD research as part of the Spatial Modelling and Dynamics research group at Leeds. The group develops mathematical and statistical models and simulation to optimise transportation systems, using ‘big data’ in new modelling approaches.
Proposing a new model for ‘shared mobility’
Currently, Haruko’s research focuses on ‘shared mobility,’ which is the concept of sharing transportation modes for economic benefit, a very hot topic nowadays. She is also very interested in studying how uncertainty can influence a transport system, to tackle potential obstacles.
“Shared mobility is a good topic to research about stochasticity or irregularity of a system”, Haruko said.
I ultimately hope to propose a strategic model that helps to understand the impact of new transport services in the mobility system. I want to contribute to the system to advocate a shift towards a more desirable direction.
She continued: “I would like to make a transport model which is useful for transport planners. I personally feel like there are lots of research on models which are potentially applicable for the operation of a new type of mobility service.”
“Additionally, it is important to understand the impact of those services would bring to the current transport system and society, considering the contribution of the transport industry to a climate emergency, for example.”
Haruko feels she has had the chance to investigate different types of modelling approaches through attending research seminars. This has helped her in widening her vision of the research area and the position of her research in it, she explained.
The Spatial Modelling and Dynamics research group is very diverse. Everyone‘s research involves some type of model, but these are positioned at different standpoints so contributes to the overall picture.
She added: “Discussing our research in an interdisciplinary environment has really helped us to influence each other to encourage the growth of new ideas.”
Haruko decided to study at the Institute of Transport Studies (ITS) at the recommendation of her previous undergraduate supervisor, who suggested it would complement her research. Professor David Watling is now one of Haruko’s supervisors.
Haruko studied Transport Planning MSc in the ITS, which she considered good preparation for her PhD. During her Master degree, Haruko claimed she liked the Institute’s interdisciplinary approach to Transport issues, something she has not often seen in her country, Japan.
“The reason why I decided to apply for a PhD at Leeds is that the ITS is known as one of the best institutes for transport research in the world”, she added.
Haruko also said she has a very good relationship with her supervisors; she appreciates the useful advice and tools they provide her with. She appreciates their guidance to help her take her research in the direction she would like to go to, while also respecting her own opinion.
Researching with my supervisors makes me feel like we are taking a trip to a new destination. At this point, we don’t always have to know how to get there, but the path always becomes clear.
She added: “This is very adventurous and exciting for me and I am very much enjoying the journey with them.”
Haruko had the chance to present at the research seminar series, which was great, she feels, for her personal development.
She said: “I got the chance to present my work to an audience who is not necessarily familiar with my research topic.”
“As a result, I enhanced my communication skills which are very important to develop as a researcher.”
Furthermore, there are PGR practice presentation sessions with members outside of Haruko’s research group. With regards to this, Haruko commented:
“It is very helpful for me to get an insight into my research from the perspective I could not have taken by myself.”
She added: “I appreciate the inclusive way in which postgraduate researchers are provided with the chance to share their feedback on supervision, welfare, facilities and any other matters concerning postgraduate life. This is particularly relevant at ITS postgraduate researcher forums.”
...postgraduate researchers are provided with the chance to share their feedback on supervision, welfare, facilities and any other matters concerning postgraduate life.
In terms of her plans, Haruko would like to be a researcher who can contribute to both providing new knowledge to the academic world and practical impact on society in some form.
She further added:
I believe transport research is and, ultimately, should be driven by the motivation to solve the issues in a real-world system.