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K-State Today

September 26, 2016



K-State professor consults as transportation safety expert in China

By Tiffany Roney

Sunanda Dissanayake

A K-State professor consulted as an international expert at one of the world's top universities this summer.

Sunanda Dissanayake, professor of civil engineering, was invited by Tongji University, in Shanghai, China, which has a college dedicated specifically to transportation engineering. Dissanayake conducted research at the college for two months.

"This was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about transportation safety in other parts of the world and conduct research that will enrich my teaching and research at Kansas State University," Dissanayake said. "I really enjoyed my time there and found it helpful to get exposure to problems and solutions not often seen in Kansas or even in the United States."

In the U.S., Dissanayake presents at least two or three conferences each year, most notably the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, which draws nearly 10,000 transportation stakeholders to Washington, D.C., for discussing the newest findings in transportation research. Her work has been published in more than 40 journals and more than 140 conference proceedings.

While in China, Dissanayake served by invitation as a high-end foreign expert at Tongji University and the Joint International Research Laboratory of Transportation Safety, where she is an international member of the advisory board and also a member of the research team for infrastructure design safety evaluation and improvement.

"China is growing very fast and has heavy traffic, which has caused plenty of highway safety challenges," Dissanayake said. "In Kansas, we don't see as many pedestrians, but pedestrians and cyclists dominate the traffic flow in Shanghai, so it was interesting to compare the transportation safety issues present in different parts of the world."

Dissanayake and other traffic safety experts examined various approaches to handle China's transportation problems and devised solutions to reduce severities and crashes.

"It's very good to get exposed to things like that, because I am able to bring many of the things I learned back to Kansas State University and use them in my teaching and research," Dissanayake said.

She is involving graduate students at Kansas State University as she continues to collaborate with faculty and graduate students she connected with during her time in China. As the graduate coordinator for the College of Engineering, Dissanayake is working on recruiting doctoral students from these connections to help Kansas State University achieve its K-State 2025 goals, including the objective of becoming a Top 50 public research institution by 2025.

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