Utah doctoral candidate Calvin Tribby becomes NITC research fellow
Posted on June 19, 2013
Tribby is a doctoral student in the Geography Department at the University of Utah. His research focuses primarily on active transportation.
While examining the influences of the built environment on people’s travel mode choices, he also takes a look at the social context and perceptions revolving around active transportation modes.
Some of his work is part of a five-year National Institutes of Health grant to study the health outcomes and transportation choices of residents in response to changes in their neighborhood built environment.
Many of these changes can have an observable impact on residents’ overall health and lifestyle. Part of the NIH study includes observing the effects of a new light rail line and a “complete street” rehabilitation in Salt Lake City.
In his research, Tribby finds ways to “summarize walkability” within activity spaces; or to provide an assessment of a neighborhood from the point of view of an active commuter, with transit concerns and infrastructure examined accordingly.
As part of the process of understanding how neighborhoods and their transportation networks function, he has worked on creating agent-based simulations. These are computer models intended to advance the scientific knowledge of how active transportation modes and route choices play out, within a community, based on certain variables.
Tribby is also interested in policy decisions surrounding the equity and accessibility of public transportation systems. In 2012 he pointed out in an editorial that, in a transit study from The Brookings Institution, “the population-weighted geographic center of a census block group was used to calculate the distance to the nearest transit stop, to categorize that population as having access to the transit network or not. This aggregation obscures the physical barriers to the nearest transit stop due to the neighborhood-built environment, such as cul-de-sacs and interstates.” His concern was that the study glossed over the street-level considerations that actual commuters would face when they tried to use transit. Tribby’s goal is to make active travel modes, and public transit, viable options for people in the real world.
Along with the NITC fellowship, Tribby has been awarded a Research Scholarship from the Point B Student Transportation Group at the University of Utah to support research into transportation and air quality. This research examines the effectiveness of air quality alert programs as a form of “soft” or persuasion-based policy that attempt to reduce automobile traffic and provide health warnings during periods of poor air quality in Salt Lake County.
He has also won awards for conference papers at the Applied Geography Conference and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association Conference. He is a graduate student member of the University of Utah’s Moving Across Places (MAPS) research team, a group surveying residents’ perceptions and activities before and after the North Temple construction project, part of Salt Lake City’s light rail and city redevelepment program.
In a study of how these changes altered people’s neighborhood perceptions, activities, and travel patterns, Tribby and the MAPS team assist with research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute to assess the relationship of these factors to cancer prevention.
Tribby has a M.S. in Geography and a B.S. in Mathematics, both from the University of New Mexico.