Helena (Lena) Breuer, the Walsh Construction Co. Scholar, was presented with the University Transportation Centers’ Outstanding Student of the Year Award at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Banquet in Washington D.C. This is an international conference that brings researchers from all over the world to the USA.
Lena is in her third year as a transportation engineering PhD student in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering. She works in the Driving and Bicycling Simulator Lab where she uses car, truck and bicycle simulators to study the design of signalized intersections, the behavior of bicyclists and drivers and how signals impact the visual perception of both. Fatalities among bicyclists have been significantly on the rise since 2008.
“The USA has seen a steady increase in demand for bicycling as a transportation modality. However, much of our nation’s infrastructure has not been sufficiently updated, nor have the design standards been appropriately revised to support this pattern of growth. If we do not prioritize providing cyclists with secure and reliable infrastructure, perceived risk of cycling will increase and consequently, the bicycle mode share will fall,” she explains.
In her graduate work, Breur has developed lab and field experiments that are being used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. The Oregon Department of Transportation has adopted new truck striping standards she developed and has accepted her Road Safety and Simulation conference paper for Special Issue Publication.
Lena is a graduate of Virginia Tech, and while there, she led a student team submission to the 2020 ITS Global Challenge. Her team was selected as one of the three North American finalists. While at OSU, she has been awarded a Pac Trans Fellowship and an Eisenhower Fellowship.
She also put her artistic skills to work at Virginia Tech, creating 3D art for sightless children so they could have a meaningful tactile experience with art. She finds time to be a peer mentor to other students in the college at OSU.
Her professor, David Hurwitz states, “I believe Lena is and will continue to be an exceptional example for women thinking about pursuing careers in transportation engineering and STEM for decades to come.”