• Research projects as Principal Investigator

    Community Vulnerability Index: Examining resilience to overlapping hazards

    Funded by: NU Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience Collaborative Research Seed Grant (2020)

    PI: A. Stathopoulos

    Students involved: Elisa Borowski / Jason Soria

    Faculty Collaboration: Co-PI Emőke-Ágnes Horvát (School of Communication; Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO); Computer Science)

    In this project we study community resilience to overlapping hazards.

    It is well known that socially vulnerable populations are disproportionately impacted when disasters strike. Specifically, social vulnerability factors such as lacking social capital, or neighborhood cohesion, cause households to have less resources to deal with emergencies like tornadoes, flooding and or heat waves. The COVID-19 pandemic adds a new layer of vulnerability to communities coping with hazards due to devastating health impacts and risk of contagion. Existing agency emergency management plans designed for a ‘general population’ of people who can access resources, comply with directions, and move out of harm’s way rapidly are not prepared for this new reality. Notably, disasters and emergencies occurring in tandem with the COVID-19 crisis generate new challenges for evacuation communication, transportation and logistics. Research is needed to define community vulnerability and examine how households behave when a public health crises overlaps with acute emergencies.

    Our team bring together transportation engineering, social science theories and network analysis to provide a leap forward in our understanding of community resilience to simultaneous crises. We use detailed surveys coupled with crowd-sourced data to tackle three research objectives: 1) define a community resilience index accounting for social embeddedness of decision makers, 2) examine the impact of overlapping hazards, and 3) study the effect of overlapping pandemic and emergency hazards on critical decisions to comply with official guidance, timing and mode of evacuation. This proof-of-concept research promises new insight to help agencies ensure social equity in mitigation, response, and recovery from emergencies by highlighting the crucial role played by the social fabric of American communities.

    Resilience of Social Capital Networks to Social Distancing: Multiscale Evolution of Physical and Virtual Support Networks

    Funded by: Natural Hazards Center – COVID-19 Quick Response research grant

    PI: A. Stathopoulos

    Students involved: Elisa Borowski


    The research will examine the effects of distancing measures on physical and virtual social capital networks at the individual-, community-, and organizational-level in the United States. By analyzing data from an online name generator survey, crowdsourcing platforms, and telephone interviews using choice modeling, social network analysis, and qualitative descriptive analysis, the findings of this study will provide valuable insights into social isolation vulnerabilities, the potential for virtual volunteering to fill gaps in support networks, and the long-term impacts of disruptions to social capital.


    Transformative mobility analysis: Mixed Methods framework

    Funded by: National Science Foundation CAREER program #1847537 (2019-2024)

    PI: A. Stathopoulos

    Students involved: Maher Said, Jason Soria


    The goal of this project is to establish a new foundation and develop methods to better understand and predict impacts of emerging freight and passenger mobility adoption. Specifically, this research establishes an analytical community mobility adoption framework that integrates current quantitative theory, data and methods (i.e. formal surveys, discrete choice analysis and supervised learning) with qualitative social science perspectives (theory of social thresholds, ethnographic data on neighborhood-scale mobility behavior). Robust policy guidance tools derived through combining qualitative, participatory, multi-stakeholder research methods and formal policy scenario simulation are expected to inform communities' transition resulting from the potentially disruptive socio-technical changes in transportation mobility choices. The impact will be strengthened by integration with education and outreach approaches that inspire, challenge and educate future civil engineers to address mobility challenges with technically informed and culturally sensitive designs.

    Models and policy tools for emerging transportation services: Promoting socially inclusive outcomes

    Funded by: Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

    PI: A. Stathopoulos

    Students involved: Jason Soria



  • Research projects as co-Investigator

    NSF Smart Connected Communities: Improving healthcare access in marginalized communities through smart connected technologies

    Funded by: National Science Foundation (2021-2022)

    PI: Marco Nie

    Students involved: 


    This planning grant aims to deliver better healthcare to and encourage health-promotion behavioral changes among seniors from marginalized communities, by strengthening access to health care, services, and resources. The project envisions a Smart Health Access and Resource Portal (SHARP), which offers both an interface through which individuals gain access to care and resources in health systems, and an engine that designs, recommends, and operationalizes virtual and physical access. The results from this project will accumulate knowledge about the existing healthcare barriers faced by seniors from marginalized communities, reveal their health-related preferences and choice behaviors, and prescribe potential solutions to strengthening their physical and virtual access while maintaining privacy to health care, services, and resources. They will also lay the foundation for a future integrative research proposal that will implement, deploy, and evaluate SHARP. If succeeded, the seniors who participate in the SHARP pilot study will see tangible health benefits gained from better access to and engagement with healthcare systems. Improving the health of seniors contributes to the overall wellbeing of the society and helps lower healthcare costs. In the long run, SHARP can be deployed in other marginalized/underserved communities to help build a healthier and more equitable society. Research results will be broadly disseminated and adopted through publications/presentations, collaborations with industry partners, as well as engagement with various community stakeholders.

    Stathopoulos will lead the efforts to study mobility barriers to health access.

    Tier I DOT Center on TELEMOBILITY

    Funded by: Department of Transportation University Transportation Center program (2020-2021)

    PI: Hani Mahmassani

    Students involved: Maher Said


    The goal of this Tier I University Transportation Center on Telemobility is to assess how ICT technologies and e-commerce processes will impact the demand for travel and mobility in the future, taking into consideration lessons learned from the dramatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. natural experiment. The Center builds on the deep expertise and broad experience of a multi-disciplinary team of leading researchers to address key developments in both the supply of tele-activities, especially e-commerce, as well as their impact on travel behavior and the demand for transportation. The research brings together researchers at Northwestern University, UC-Berkeley, and UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business.

    Stathopoulos a lead for the behavior and data group working to conceptualize, measure and model behavior adaptation in the areas of e-commerce/omni-channel adoption, and evolving remote work patterns and experiences.

    Embassy 2050

    Funded by: US Department of State & The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) (2020-2021)

    PI: Kimberly Gray


    Embassy 2050 is a project funded by the US Department of State & The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) on Future Innovations in Embassy Planning, Design, Construction & Operation. The research team spans faculty at the CEE department at Northwestern and the role of Stathopoulos is to examine travel behavior, accessibility, and interaction with Embassy structures.

    Smart CROwdsourced Urban Delivery (CROUD) System #1534138

    Funded by: National Science Foundation

    PI: Marco Nie

    Students involved: Aymeric Punel


    This project was Funded by the US National Science Foundation: Partnership For Innovation - Building Innovation capacity program to develop a crowd-sourced urban delivery (CROUD) system that promises an efficient, greener, urban delivery service system. The project brought together 5 PI's and disciplines from the Kellogg School at NU & the University of Illinois at Chicago.

    Stathopoulos leads the human behavior data and modelling thrust in the project, as well as coordination and transfer of insight to the industrial partner. The work by Stathopoulos focused on understanding and predicting behaviors and choices of humans in a CROUD system using experiment and major spatio-temporal shipping data, to examine crowd-shipper 'willingness-to-work', senders complex interactions with the system, large-scale performance of the crowd-shipping platform, and matching/exchanges between senders and drivers.