Director, UK ESRC Urban Big Data Centre,
Ch2M Chair of Transport,
Professor of Urban Studies,
Affiliated Professor of School of Engineering
University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Current CV:  ThakuriahCVJuly2016B.pdf

Brief Bio

Vonu is the Ch2M Chair of Transport and Professor of Urban Studies and Affiliated Professor of the School of Engineering in the University of Glasgow. She is the founding Director and Principal Investigator of the Urban Big Data Centre funded by Research Council UK’s Economic and Social Research Council that includes a national data service to inspire innovations for sustainable and socially just cities. The UBDC is a 7-university interdisciplinary consortium led by University of Glasgow, with the universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Sheffield, Reading, Bristol and Illinois-Chicago as partners, and with MOUs or other forms of collaboration with selected Australian, US and Chinese institutions. Vonu is currently a European Commission Marie Curie Fellow.

Vonu’s research interests lie in smart, socially-just and sustainable transport and theories and methods explaining transport policies and services and traveller behaviour. She is more broadly interested in Urban Informatics or the analytics of emerging sources of Big Data to understand complex urban problems.


Research Interests

In the area of smart and sustainable transport, her work lies in the connections among transportation, society and technology with the view that mobility in cities of the future will require planners to jointly consider social, infrastructural and technological challenges. She has focussed on “smart” public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian active transportation, as well as in connected/collaborative/shared transportation systems. Her research has considered the needs of a wide spectrum of travellers including low-wage workers, seniors, persons with disabilities and young adults and her work links social equity and human capital considerations to the labour market, safety, well-being and other outcomes experienced by travellers. She is interested in the potential of Information and Communications Technology to improve livability, learning and engagement in cities and on the effective use of Big Data for urban planning, policy and business innovations. Aside from journal articles, books and edited work in this area include Transportation and Information: Trends in Technology and Policy  (Springer 2013), Proceedings of 4th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Computational Transportation Science (ACM Press 2011) and Special Issue on Methodological Issues in Accessibility Measures with Possible Policy Implications (Journal of Transportation and Statistics).

Her work in the area of Urban Informatics span analytics of emerging sources of Big Data for knowledge discovery regarding cities and data-intensive policy analysis. She is interested in the technological, methodological, epistemological and political economy challenges related to working with Big Data. Recent work in this area include the forthcoming edited volume Seeing Cities with Big Data: Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics (Springer, expected 2016) and Proceedings of the ACM First International Workshop on Understanding the City with Urban Informatics (ACM Press, 2015). Examples of ongoing projects in this area include the Integrated Multimedia City Data (iMCD) project which looks at multi-modal data collections (e.g., a social survey, travel and activity diaries, GPS, lifelogging data and data from administrative sources and private businesses and a wide variety of social and infrastructure-based sensors) for sensing and knowledge discovery in cities. The Spatial Urban Data System (SUDS) programme aspires to serve small-area data on a wide variety of economic, social, built environment and physical factors in UK urban areas.

Prior to her current position at the University of Glasgow, she was a professor in the University of Illinois at Chicago and a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, both in the US. Vonu has published over 165 journal papers, conference proceedings and technical reports. She has been Principal Investigator of grants of approximately about $24 million and has been involved in research grants of over $62 million in total (as PI, Co-I or Investigator) in the US and the UK. She served as the Principal Investigator of a series of research grants to study mobility and accessibility outcomes experienced by low-wage workers, persons with disabilities and seniors. This work was funded by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration and the Community Transportation Association of America together with the US Department of Labor. Her work on ICT and transportation has been supported by the US National Science Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, Navteq LLC, Glasgow City Council and other public and private organizations. Her research work on Big Data and Urban Informatics has been supported by Research Council of UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, US National Science Foundation and the European Commission.

Vonu was previously the PI of an NSF grant on Big Data and Urban Informatics and Co-PI of an NSF IGERT on Computational Transportation Science. She is currently a Co-I of the ESRC-funded Administrative Data Research Centre based in University of Edinburgh. Vonu has consulted on or otherwise collaborated on transportation projects in Malaysia, China, India, Australia, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

She is a founding co-chair of the joint subcommittee on Computational Transportation and Society of the Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, which is focusing on the computational, design, analytics, social and legal aspects of Big Data for mobility and accessibility. She served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA Journal) from 2010 to 2013. She is a co-chair of the Urban Data Interest group of the Research Data Alliance.


Selected Recent (forthcoming and last 2 years) Publications

Thakuriah, P., N. Tilahun and M. Zellner (forthcoming 2016). Seeing Cities through Big Data: Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics. Edited volume consisting of selected refereed papers presented in workshop sponsored by National Science Foundation on Big Data and Urban Informatics, Springer, New York.

Moshfeghi, Y., Ounis, I., Macdonald, C., Jose, J., Triantafillou, P., Livingston, M., and Thakuriah, P. (2015) Proceedings of the ACM First International Workshop on Understanding the City with Urban Informatics. Refereed papers presented in UCUI’15 held in CIKM’15 24th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management Melbourne, VIC, Australia — October 19 – 23, 2015. ACM Press, New York. ACM ISBN 9781450337861.

Thakuriah, P., N. Tilahun and M. Zellner (forthcoming 2016). Big Data and Urban Informatics: Innovations and Challenges to Urban Planning and Knowledge Discovery. In Seeing Cities through Big Data: Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics, to be published by Springer, New York. Early version in Proc. of NSF-sponsored Workshop on Big Data and Urban Informatics, pp. 4-32.

Thakuriah, P., L. Dirks, and Y. Keita Mallon (forthcoming 2016). Emerging Urban Digital Infomediaries and Civic Hacking in Emerging Urban Data Initiatives. In Seeing Cities through Big Data: Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics, Springer, New York. Early version in Proc. of NSF-sponsored Workshop on Big Data and Urban Informatics, pp. 398-413.

Lido, C., Osborne, M., Livingston, M., Thakuriah, P., and Sila-Nowicka, K. (forthcoming 2016). Older learning engagement in the modern city. In International Journal of Lifelong Education.

Hong, J., and P. Thakuriah (2015) Relationship between motorized travel and time spent online for non-work purposes: an examination of location impact. In International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. Accepted author version posted online: 17 Aug 2015.

Cottrill, C. D., and P. Thakuriah (2015) Location privacy preferences: a survey-based analysis of consumer awareness, trade-off and decision-making. In Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, 56, pp. 132-148.

Cottrill, C. and P. Thakuriah (2014). Privacy in Context: An Evaluation of Policy-based Approaches to Location Privacy Protection. In International Journal of Law and Information Technology, Vol. 22 (2), pp. 178-207.

Selected (last 2 years) Keynotes, Colloquium and Invited Talks

U.S. National Academy of Sciences Mapping Science Committee, Washington D.C. Grand Challenges in Smart Cities. April 14, 2016. Keynote Speaker.

Leibnitz Center for Informatics, Saarland, Germany, Schloss Dagstuhl Seminar on Computational Challenges in Cooperative Intelligent Urban Transport, Feb 28-March 4, 2016. Keynote speaker and invited attendee.

U.S. Comptroller General Forum on 21st Century Data Analytics, jointly organized by U.S. GAO and the National Academies Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications. Future Promises and Benefits of Big Data Economy. Jan 27-28, 2016. Washington DC, Invited attendee and speaker.

12th PASCAL Observatory Conference Connecting Cities and Universities at Strategic Frontiers, Catania, Sicily. The Future of Cities: Big Data and the Urban Economy. Opening Keynote Address, Oct 7, 2015

Joint Statistical Meetings, Seattle. Unstructured Social Media Data for Transportation Applications: Benefits and Challenges. Invited presentation in JSM Transportation Special Interest Group’s Session on New Tools for Transportation Statistics, Seattle, Aug. 8-13, 2015.

University of Leeds. Emerging Data Sources and Urban Informatics. Keynote Speaker, Opening Event, Leeds Institute of Data Analytics. July 10, 2015.

Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Smart Transportation Planning and Operations. Colloquium Speaker, Department of Civil Engineering. April 27, 2015.

Association of American Geographers.  Frontiers of Research on Urban Informatics. Chair of panel organized by AAG 2015 Symposium on CyberGIS for Fostering New Frontiers of Geographic Research and Education, Chicago, IL, April 2015.

Edinburgh Science Festival. Urban Informatics. Chair of panel and speaker, Edinburgh, April 16, 2015.

University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. Big Data for Urban Informatics: Examples from the Glasgow Urban Big Data Centre. Colloquium Speaker, University College Dublin, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, March 26, 2015.

European Commission Joint Program Initiative Urban Governing Board. Urban Big Data and Smart Cities. Plenary presentation to the full governing board of the EC JPI Urban, London, UK, on March 9, 2015.

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, San Jose. Transport Informatics. Invited panelist and speaker in US Government Accountability Office and UK Parliament Office for Science and Technology joint special session on Social Implications of Big Data in AAAS Annual Meeting, San Jose, Feb. 13, 2015.

High Performance Computing and Big Data Conference (UKHPC), London. Urban Big Data: Addressing the Social, Economic and Environmental Challenges Facing Cities. Plenary Speaker, Annual HPC and Big Data Conference, London, Feb 3, 2015.

Ohio State University, Columbus. Data-driven Modeling for Transportation: Prospects and Challenges. Colloquium Speaker, Ohio State University’s Department of Geography, Columbus, Jan. 16, 2015.

Imperial College, London. Urban Informatics and ICT Entrepreneurship for Data-Driven Public Transport Planning and Operations. Imperial College Centre for Transport Studies (CTS) Seminar Series, London, Nov. 19, 2014.

Holyrood, Parliament of the Government of Scotland. The Science of Running Smart Cities. Keynote speaker, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Nov 12, 2014.

National Science Foundation-sponsored Workshop on Big Data and Urban Informatics, University of Illinois at Chicago. Big Data and Urban Informatics. Opening Plenary Presentation. August 11, 2014.

Royal Academy of Engineering, London. Urban Informatics: Social and Behavioral Modeling of Transportation. Invited Presentation in IBM Big Data Analytics Workshop, March 12, 2014.

Transportation Research Board Annual Conference, Washington, DC. Urban Digital Infomediaries in an Era of Big Data and Open Data Initiatives. Opening presentation in Workshop on Big Data and Open Data, January 12, 2014.


Supervision and Research Groups

 Current PhD Supervision

Aktas, Orhan, PhD Candidate in Transportation Informatics, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow (co-supervised with Dr McArthur), 2015-Current.

Carillo, Graciela, PhD Candidate in Transportation Planning, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow (co-supervised with Dr Hong), 2015-Current.

Venkatasubramanian, Ashwini, PhD Candidate in Engineering, University of Glasgow, 2014-Current. Co-supervisors; K. Ampountolas and L. Evers. Potential topic: Transport Network Analytics – Evaluating Traffic Equilibrium with Heterogeneous Urban Big Data.

Paule, Jorge David, , PhD Candidate in Computing Science, University of Glasgow, 2014-Current. Co-supervisor: J. Jose). Unstructured Data for Transportation Planning and Applications (tentative area).

Wu, Guoqiang (Chris), , PhD Candidate in Transportation Planning, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow 2013-Current. A Methodological Framework to Assess Interactions among Travel Behaviour, ICT Use and Energy Consumption.

Keita-Mallon, Yaye (University of Illinois at Chicago, expected graduation August 2011-Current. Co-Advisor: N. Tilahun). Mobility in the Context of Time, Space, and Economic Outcomes: Perspectives of Female Travelers.


Postdoctoral Supervision

Katarzyna Sila-Nowikca, 2014-Current. Pre-doctoral Research Associate in Urban Modeling and Simulation, Urban Big Data Centre

Sun, Yeran, 2016-Current. Postdoctoral Research Associate in Urban Methods, Urban Big Data Centre  – Since March 2016

Traut, Elizabeth, 2013-2015. US National Science Foundation: Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellow. Co-supervisor Prof. Chris Hendrickson, Carnegie Mellon University.

Transport and Urban Informatics Group

Jinhyun Hong, Lecturer in Transportation Planning, Urban Studies

Konstantinos Ampountolous, Lecturer in Transportation Engineering, Civil and Infrastructure Engineering

David Philip McArthur, Lecturer in Transport Studies, Urban Studies

Jing Yao, Lecturer in Urban Big Data, Quantitative Methods and GIScience, Urban Studies

Katarzyna Sila-Nowikca, 2014-Current. Pre-doctoral Research Associate in Urban Modeling and Simulation, Urban Big Data Centre

Sun, Yeran, 2016-Current. Postdoctoral Research Associate in Urban Methods, Urban Big Data Centre  – Since March 2016

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