Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research Program

We invited applications from early career scholars (≤ five years since PhD or appropriate terminal degree) for the inaugural Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research program, starting Summer/Autumn 2019. The program offers a two-year postdoctoral opportunity for scholars focused on one of the following two themes: (1) The Future of Mobility & Smart Cities, and (2) Sustainable Urban Systems.  We invite applicants whose work focuses on ambitious endeavors, spans multiple disciplines, and connects with public outreach and engagement.  Applicants should specify their thematic focus in their statement of interest and how they would benefit from working in an urban setting within a multidisciplinary group, rather than in a traditional academic department on campus.

The STEAM Factory is a grassroots faculty network within The Ohio State University committed to collaboration and innovation in research, outreach, and education. With over 200 members in almost every school and college of Ohio State, we provide a space where researchers from all disciplines can broaden their perspectives, share resources, spark creative research ideas, and form collaborations. Located off-campus in the rising Franklinton neighborhood of downtown Columbus, the STEAM Factory also bridges the divide between the university and city, providing accessible outreach and informal STEM learning for the wider community.

The thematic focus areas for the inaugural program are supported in partnership with the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State (SI) and Ohio State Energy Partners (for Sustainable Urban Systems), and Honda Research (for Mobility and Smart Cities). With a network of over 200 researchers drawn from 40 academic units, the SI integrates scholarship and education on sustainability and resilience across the university. SI faculty are engaged in research on key topics including sustainable energy, land and water systems, resilient communities, and sustainable mobility. For more information on interdisciplinary research and education at SI, please visit

As a STEAM Postdoctoral researcher, you will have the opportunity to work with faculty from almost every discipline ( On a day-to-day basis, you would be expected to work directly with at least two core faculty mentors and their research groups, establishing a joint project that has the potential for broader impact and innovative inquiry. Successful applicants will also be responsible (30-40% time) for developing new initiatives and managing ongoing programs at STEAM that further its mission of research collaboration and outreach. Scholars should be engaged in both their academic field and the local or regional community. Scholars are expected to be in residence at The STEAM Factory, 400 West Rich Street, Columbus OH, but will interact with their mentors regularly and will be provided travel funds to attend conferences. The STEAM Factory is a diverse and community-driven environment—we expect you to thrive in such a setting and contribute to it.

• Positions have been filled at this point. Please check back next year for additional post-doctoral opportunities
• Initial appointment is for one year, with potential for 2nd year contingent on performance and funding
• Annual salary: $48,000-$55,000 (commensurate with experience)

Application Materials:
• Curriculum vitae
• Cover letter that states the theme of interest (or if you wish to be considered for both themes)
• Brief statement of interest (2 pages max)
• Sample research paper
• Names of at least two references

Theme 1: Future of Mobility & Smart Cities

Requirements: PhD (or comparable training and experience) in mobility and smart city-related fields: urban studies, transportation, statistics, geography, computer science, engineering, operations research, or a related field. Applicants should have excellent academic standing and strong foundational knowledge in the intersection of urban studies and data analytics. Candidates with a variety of methodological training will be considered if they sufficiently demonstrate the ability to conduct breakthrough research on smart cities, mobility, and next-generation transport. Applicants should highlight their methodological competencies, especially related to the following: programming, networks and optimization, statistics, simulation, program evaluation, trauma-informed research, and/or public health. Positive work attitude, good communication and interpersonal skills and an ability to work independently and in multi-disciplinary teams.

Theme 2: Sustainable Urban Systems
Requirements: PhD (or equivalent) in a relevant field of the social sciences, including economics, geography, public policy, planning, or environmental humanities.  Applicants should demonstrate excellent academic standing and ability to conduct innovative research in sustainable urban development. We are particularly interested in candidates who use an integrative, systems approach to sustainability and resilience issues in application domains such as urban land use, transportation, energy, water systems, air quality, social equity, and climate change. Desired methodological skills include, but are not limited to, geospatial data analytics, geovisualization, or applied econometrics. We especially encourage applicants who can demonstrate collaborative work that bridges the social sciences with engineering, the natural sciences or humanities.

Participating Faculty Mentors:

Gulsah Akar, Associate Professor, City & Regional Planning, Knowlton School of Architecture
Dr. Akar conducts research on transportation planning and policy with a focus on travel demand forecasting, travel behavior and links between land-use and transportation. Her research centers on modeling behavior, travel choices and individuals’ perceptions to forecast future patterns under changing socio-economic, land-use and built environment scenarios using the latest methodological and conceptual advances in the transportation field. Dr. Akar’s research on travel behavior and its extensions to current topics on smart cities, equity, transportation infrastructure, autonomous vehicles and how shared mobility systems make significant and original contributions to our fundamental understanding of travel forecasting. For more information:

Jeremy Brooks, Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources
Dr. Brooks is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist who draws on evolutionary theory to study social-ecological systems dynamics, the evolution of institutions for sustainable resource use, and the relationship between sustainable consumption, well-being, and the built environment. He is seeking applications for postdoctoral researchers to contribute to a collaborative project on evaluating the social, economic, and environmental impacts of green infrastructure installed through the Blueprint Columbus program. He uses empirical analysis to explore synergies and tradeoffs between individual consumption patterns and well-being indicators. This project will expand upon ongoing research on Blueprint Columbus to draw on the cultural evolution literature to understand how different social and physical environments can shape the relationship between sustainable consumption and well-being. The project will build on partnerships with the City of Columbus, including David Celebrezze at the Office of Environmental Sustainability, and Leslie Westerfelt with Blueprint Columbus. For more information:

Marcello Canova, Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Dr. Canova conducts research in modeling, optimization and control of dynamic systems. His research interests are in the energy optimization and management of ground vehicle propulsion systems, including internal combustion engines, hybrid-electric drivetrains, energy storage systems and thermal management. His research activities also touch upon understanding and leveraging vehicle connectivity and automation to improve fuel economy. His research is supported by, among others, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the National Science Foundation, NASA, ARPA-E and the US Department of Energy. For more information:

Andre Carrel, Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering
Dr. Carrel conducts research on travel behavior in the context of emerging, on-demand and flexible transportation services, the impacts of new vehicle technologies on vehicle ownership and travel demand, public transportation planning, operations, quality of service, and reliability, urban logistics and supply chains, transportation energy consumption and sustainability, and various smart city technology applications. Carrel uses combinations of large-scale data sets from automated sensing systems and mobile phones, targeted surveys, and simulations to model traveler decision-making, facilitate the design, operations and monitoring of transportation and logistics systems, and to support the management of public or private transportation infrastructure. He has ongoing collaborations with several other centers and departments at OSU as well as with various industry and government partners. For more information:

Chen Chen, Assistant Professor, Integrated Systems Engineering
Prof. Chen’s area of research is mathematical optimization, especially the advancement of branch-and-cut algorithms for nonlinear integer programming problems. He is interested in combining convex optimization and integer programming techniques. Application interests include power systems operations/planning problems, and developing tools for statistical/machine learning. For more information:

Zhenhua Chen, Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning
Dr. Chen’s research interests include infrastructure planning and policy, resilience and big data. He is particularly interested in integrating these fields through regional impact assessment with a primary focus on transportation infrastructure system. The objective of his research is to improve the understanding of the effectiveness of infrastructure investment on regional economic development and disaster preparation and recovery in order to provide policy implications to improve the allocative efficiency of public resources to enhance resilience and achieve a smart and sustainable development. For more information:

Vicky Doan-Nguyen, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Dr. Doan-Nguyen seeks to work with a candidate with a scientific interest in synthesis and characterization of novel inorganic solid electrolytes for Li-ion and Na-ion batteries. The postdoc will be part of an interdisciplinary team to advance technologies in energy storage and electrification of vehicles. The post-doc should have technical skills in solid-state synthesis, advanced structural characterization, electrochemical cell fabrication, or electrochemical methods. For more information:

Wuyang Hu, Professor, Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics
Dr. Hu is interested in the process and economic, environmental, and social implications of human decision-making related to food and environment. From the consumers' perspectives, he is interested in understanding how consumers trade off goods and services with varying level of characteristics including the price/cost they need to pay to acquire them. From the producers’/suppliers’ perspectives, Dr. Hu studies what may be the ways to incentivize producers/suppliers to offer goods and services with better quality either for private or public use. In this process, public policy-makers are viewed as suppliers of policies. Dr. Hu focuses on survey methodology and examines incentive and statistical methods to reduce biases associated with the situation that respondents may not always behave according to the way they describe themselves in surveys. For more information:

Natalie Hull, Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering
Dr. Hull seeks a candidate interested in sustainably engineering safe water for the health and enjoyment of future generations. She is interested in applying emerging molecular biology tools, novel sensors, big data analyses, and optimized treatment technologies to better understand and control microbiomes in urban water systems for sustainable protection of public and environmental health. For more information:

Ayaz Hyder, Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Dr. Hyder’s research focuses on understanding the role of multiple determinants of human health (social, economic, demographic, environment) operating at multiple levels of organization (individual, neighborhood, regional). Dr. Hyder uses mathematical and computational approaches (e.g. predictive analytics and systems science methods) to bring together theory, data and methods in order to carry out translational data analytics research. His currently funded projects are in the areas of birth outcomes/reproductive health, food insecurity, opioid epidemic, and citizen science. He is particularly focused on how public health systems may leverage technology and analytics within Smart and Connected Cities in order to eliminate health inequalities and address emerging population health challenges in a proactive manner. He is currently Co-PI on two NSF-funded projects under the S&CC program on Smart Foodsheds and the opioid epidemic (rural Ohio focus). For more information:

Amber Woodburn McNair, Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning, Center for Aviation Studies
Dr. Woodburn McNair integrates air transportation and surface transportation planning in both her teaching and research. She welcomes applicants who are interested in working at the intersection of smart mobility and equity, especially those who have strong foundations in the study of cities, the built environment, and/or social outcomes and rigorous academic training in spatial, statistical, and/or surveying research methods. Two current works-in-progress include: (1) viability and equity of urban air mobility ('drones') for transport of people, goods, and services and (2)'smart mobility' technologies that support a culture of health for marginalized populations. For more information:

Harvey Miller, Reusche Chair in Geographic Information Science; Professor, Department of Geography; Director, Center for Urban and Regional Analysis
Dr. Miller’s research interests are at the intersection between geographic information science and transportation, in particular, mobility data analytics to understand human movement within cities and regions. The main questions driving his research include sustainable transportation, livable cities, and the relationships between human mobility, health and social equity. A specific focus of his most recent research is leveraging persistent urban data collection to generate actionable knowledge about the impact of disruptive mobility technologies on sustainability. For more information:

Yasuyuki (Yas) Motoyama, Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning
Dr. Motoyama has researched innovation at multinational corporations, scientific development at universities, and entrepreneurship at startup companies. One of his recent projects investigated spatial connections between startup and high-growth companies and urban vibrancy at the intrametropolitan scale, which involves examination of urban land use, street patterns, walkability, and transit access. He has been serving as a special advisor to the Small Business Ecosystem Assessment Committee at the Columbus City Government. For more information:

Jason Reece, Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning
Dr. Reece is an assistant professor of city and regional planning at the Knowlton School. His research broadly focuses on social equity and justice in the context of planning history, theory and practice. More specifically, his research focuses on the planning for a built and social environment which supports multiple dimensions of health equity. Active research projects include: an evaluation of the Move to Prosper housing intervention on health and documenting best practices in utilization of neighborhood data systems for health equity. For more information:

Ruike Zhao, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Dr. Zhao's research is on the fundamental understanding and development of soft intelligent material systems. By utilizing analytical, numerical and experimental tools, we study the functional structural responses of the intelligent materials that are subject to external stimuli such as stress, temperature, chemical, electric or magnetic fields. Applications include soft actuators, soft robotics, flexible electronics, tissue engineering, biomedical engineering, decarbonize and sustainable energy. The Zhao group has specialized expertise in finite element analysis, mechanics-guided material and structural design, and advanced manufacturing of functional soft composites. The objective of the research is to provide guidance to develop advanced materials and structures, aiming for the design of innovative functional devices and systems. For more information:

Please feel free to contact Dr. Sathya Gopalakrishnan ( if you have any questions.