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By Connie Lee, Feb. 8, 2022

Two Cal Poly Pomona students presented their research at the 101st annual Transportation Research Board meeting at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. from Jan. 9 to Jan. 13.

Omar Galicia, an urban and regional planning master’s student, and Daniel Romero, a civil engineering student, were granted spots at the conference to present their findings as fellows in the TRB Minority Student Fellows Program. The program provides funding for students from minority serving institutions who are Hispanic, African American, Native American or Native Hawaiian across the U.S. to attend the annual meeting.

Omar Galicia speaks with a conference guest about public transit planning. (Courtesy of Risdon Photography)
Daniel Romero discusses his study on air quality at the TRB conference. (Courtesy of Risdon Photography)







TRB is one of the largest divisions within the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and hosts the largest transportation research conference in the world each year.

“We provide funding for students to attend the annual meeting,” explained Karen Febey, senior reporter officer and program manager for the Minority Student Fellows Program. “They must prepare a research project; they are working on their research project all through the summer, and then they submit it for peer review. Then they present it at the conference and participate in our conference in all aspects of it.”

Galicia and Romero individually developed a poster board with information regarding their research to present at the conference. They networked with transportation researchers from across the world and explored new areas of research in the transportation profession. Both students attended exhibition halls to learn about innovative technology making its way to the market.

“I did my political science degree at UCSB, so I’m really interested in policy development when it pertains to the public realm of society,” said Galicia. “So, one of the things I want to do academically and in my career is focus on evidence-based decision making.”

Galicia is interested in transportation planning and policy related issues. He decided to get his masters at Cal Poly Pomona to strengthen his ability to conduct policy analysis which pertains to planning. Galicia presented his research in Public Transit Planning Strategy: A Methodology for Prioritizing Transit Service Investments.

Omar Galicia’s poster evaluated proposed LA Metro projects. (Courtesy of Omar Galicia)

Galicia found the TRB conference a perfect opportunity to build upon his project that was previously completed for his Geospatial Geographic Information Systems class. When the email blast let students know about the opportunity, he took the chance to present his work at the event.

Galicia plans to utilize software like GIS, which conducts spatial analysis using data that help pinpoint opportunities for transportation development.

Romero presented research on Air Quality Evaluation on I-210 Freeway Before and After Safer-at-Home Order During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Romero applied to the TRB conference after starting his research in May with one of his supervisors who sent him the opportunity to present the study.

Romero’s research studied the air quality in Southern California before and after the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. The purpose of his research was to understand how traffic relates to and affects air quality. His study was conducted one week before the stay-at-home order and one week after the mandated order.

According to Romero’s research, the hourly speed from cars before to after the stay-at-home order had an average increase in speed of 17%. The 25th percentile had a 74% increase and in the 75th percentile there was a 0.1% increase.

Daniel Romero’s poster studied hourly driving speeds before and during the stay-at-home order. (Courtesy of Daniel Romero)

According to Romero’s research, there was a reduction in both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. While everyone thought that during the pandemic carbon dioxide levels would be reduced, Romero observed that there was an increase in nitrogen and O2 levels which had a direct relationship with the increase in speed from cars.

“We did see a huge reduction in traffic, in total flow,” said Romero. “Looking at the air quality, the big takeaway from the research, which was surprising, was we saw an increase in NO, nitric oxide or nitrogen monoxide, and NO2, nitrogen dioxide, which led to an increase in O3 which is ground level ozone and pm 2.5 which is particulate matter.”

The five-day event opened many opportunities for students like Galicia and Romero to network with different transportation facilities worldwide. Cal Poly Pomona has been a participant in the TRB meetings since 2010 and has sent a total of 16 students.

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