Research Overview

The United States has invested billions of dollars constructing, maintaining, and improving systems to provide safe, durable, and serviceable transportation infrastructures for auto and truck travel. Ye, no matter how much money we spend, congestion, road conditions and crashes seem to get no improvement. Smarter vehicles, infrastructures, and transportation operations through technologies and data science may be able to fill the gap and to develop next-generation resilient and smart transportation system addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow. To align with the U.S. DOT top three transportation strategic goals, Dr. Lu’s research has focused on all strategic aspects of smart transportation including innovative solutions for transportation safety improvement, maintaining and improving existing transportation infrastructures through innovative practice and technologies, and coordinating data collection, analysis and sharing across systems through integrated data platforms to make better decisions and align decision and dollars.

In 2010, Dr. Lu became a Research Analyst with Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute focusing in the area of asset management, freight transportation, smart transportation, rail transportation, and transportation safety. She became an assistant professor of transportation in 2015 and has been promoted as associate professor since 2017. In addition to her research activities, she has successfully taught several graduate courses including Highway Planning and Logistics, Transportation System II, Logistic Decision Analysis.

Research Interests
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
  • Smart Material and Structure Health Monitoring
  • Big Data Analytics for Transportation
  • Smart Transportation
  • Transportation System
  • Asset Management
  • Multimodal Transportation
  • Geospatial Transportation Modeling
Current Research

Dr. Lu is currently conducting the following DOT-funded and proposal-staged research:

  • Sensor system design and optimization to enable smart cities (funded)
  • Smart materials and structural health monitoring (funded)
  • Sensor based pavement and rail track condition and traffic monitoring (funded)
  • Sensor based smart weigh-in-motion system (funded)
  • Data-based traffic safety analysis and prediction through artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistical algorithms (funded)
  • Truck platooning solution using automated and connected vehicle technologies for greener freight transportation
  • Driving behavior characterization with mixed autonomous vehicles and manual vehicles traffic flow under experiment and data mining
  • Transportation infrastructure management system
  • Multi-mode transportation
  • Operation research in transportation system

Dr. Lu’s research has been published in quartiles-one and level-A journal outlets such as Journal of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Accident Analysis and Prevention, IEEE Sensors Journal, Journal of Safety Research, and Journal of Transportation Engineering. She has written more than 40 journal articles, research reports, and conference papers, and she has been invited to speak on her research at domestic and international academic conferences. Dr. Lu also has co-chaired conference mini-tracks related to her research area at international conferences. She serves on editorial boards for World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, Global Environment, Health and Safety, and International Journal of Scientific Research and Civil Engineering. She also has served as a committee member for several professional transportation organizations, and as a paper reviewer for numerous journals and conferences.

Pan Lu

Associate Professor of Transportation and Supply Chain
Quentin Burdick Building, 418
(701) 212-3795


  • Ph.D., North Dakota State University (Transportation and Logistics)
  • B.S., North China Electric Power University (Technological Economics)
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