New faculty member connects geography and transportation

Headshot of Ying SongYing Song joined the U of M’s Department of Geography, Environment and Society as an assistant professor this semester. As a human geographer, Song’s main research interest is geographical information science (GIScience), focusing on the development and application of spatial analytic methods to visualize, explore, and analyze movement and change in geographic space with respect to time. Related to transportation, Song is interested in human mobility and accessibility within transportation networks, especially at the urban and regional level.

What sparked your interest in transportation?

I developed an interest in spatial modeling, quantitative methods, and urban transportation as an undergraduate GIScience major in China. I have witnessed the ever-increasing demands on mobility and consequent problems such as traffic congestion and air pollution, which persuaded me to apply to a graduate program in the United States and gain frontier knowledge. During my graduate studies and research, I discovered time geography and found myself deeply interested in its individualistic perspective on human geography: it emphasizes the differences in physical and social constraints that create the diversity of human activities and experiences. Time geography has also led to my special focus on sustainable transportation development.

What are your primary research areas?

My research areas include GIScience, spatial-temporal analysis, time geography, and urban transportation. In particular, I am interested in using movement data collected by GPS and other location-aware technologies to investigate spatio-temporal dynamics of individuals and provide additional insights on human mobility and accessibility within urban environments. With respect to transportation, I am especially interested in sustainable transportation development and advocate transit-oriented transportation development that reduces auto dependency and air pollution.

What excites you about your new role?

I am excited about the opportunities available to me at the U of M, particularly potential future collaborations with other CTS Scholars. I am also looking forward to reaching out and building relationships with transportation agencies in Minnesota so I can obtain more experience in real-world practices and contribute to the study of transportation as a geographer.

I am eager to build bridges between the Department of Geography, Environment and Society and these other entities on and off campus. I believe that these collaborations will generate positive synergy and productivity for both my personal research and the research mission of the department, CTS, and the University of Minnesota.

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