Alumni Spotlight: Alex Bigazzi, University of British Columbia
Alex Bigazzi, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia
Alex Bigazzi, a former Post-Doctoral NITC researcher and student, received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Portland State University in 2014. Learn more about Alex:
Tell us about yourself:
My name is Alex Bigazzi and I am an assistant professor, joint-appointed in transportation engineering and planning at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. My main research areas are transportation emissions and air quality and active travel.
Why did you decide to attend Portland State University?
The original decision was driven almost entirely by location. I was living in Portland, decided to go back to school for a second bachelor’s degree, and didn’t want to leave town. PSU was a reputable public institution, so I enrolled. I originally had no plans to go to grad school, but got interested in research through a job as an undergrad research assistant in a structural engineering lab with Dr. Mueller at PSU. I stayed at PSU for my 2 successive graduate degrees because I was getting a great education – and I still didn’t want to leave Portland!
What factors influenced your decision of where to go after graduation?
Again, this was primarily driven by location. I was looking for faculty jobs in the Pacific Northwest, because my partner and I love this part of the world. We also wanted to be in a thriving city both for quality-of-life and because I research urban transportation. We basically agreed I would look within the Bolt Bus-shed, which didn’t leave very many schools. Still, we hadn’t really thought of Canada, and when the UBC-Vancouver job popped up, it checked all our boxes. And the mountain biking is amazing. So I basically got lucky.
How has NITC's research and work impacted you as a transportation professional?
The research resources provided by NITC were instrumental to me conducting my graduate research and successfully completing my master’s and PhD degrees. I received direct support for the research, and also took advantage of the many NITC-sponsored activities (workshops, guest speakers, conference travel and events, etc.). I think NITC is a big part of why PSU has an out-sized reputation in the field of transportation. On standard university metrics, PSU does not rank very highly, and yet PSU is well-known and well-respected in the transportation community for an active and rigorous research group. NITC in particular does a great job of bringing engineering and planning together, which I think is vital to transportation education and research, and has benefitted me tremendously.
Who is your Transportation Hero (and why)?
Good question – something I hadn’t really thought of before. I’d probably have to say Jack Kerouac for his palpable descriptions of the positive utility of travel, or Freddie Mercury for his vociferous celebration of the humble bicycle.
This is an installment in a series of monthly Student Spotlights we'll be shining on students and alumni that are involved with NITC (National Institute for Transportation & Communites).