The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of North America recently selected Rajaram Bhagavathula, a Virginia Tech Industrial Systems Engineering doctoral candidate from Visakhapatnam, India, as recipient of the Young Professionals Scholarship. Bhagavathula’s research offers a new way to model nighttime roadway visibility, which has the potential to improve roadway safety, especially for pedestrians.

In 2011, fatalities among roadway pedestrians rose to nearly 5,000 across the United States. Bhagavathula’s study focuses on how well drivers detect pedestrians and other objects while driving at night. “By modeling the detection probabilities we can more accurately evaluate the safety benefit of any treatment, such as a new type of lighting, sign, pavement marker etc.,” Bhagavathula explained.

Center for Infrastructure Based Safety Systems director Ron Gibbons and leader of the ongoing project agrees, “Raj’s work is very important to the on-going analysis of the effectiveness of roadway lighting. Being able to estimate when a pedestrian is in the roadway and able to be seen is vital to determining the safety impact of a lighted environment.”Bhagavathula_Rajaram 400x500 LR

Bhagavathula holds a master’s degree in Industrial Systems Engineering with a specialization in Human Factors and Ergonomics from Virginia Tech. He is currently a doctoral candidate continuing his studies at Virginia Tech by pursuing a  degree in the same program of study.

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Written by Marin Shipe, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Communications Intern