East Carolina University Student Awarded HSRC Scholarship

(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) announced today the winner of the 2014 Megan Cornog Memorial Highway Safety Scholarship -- Lauren Cochran.

Cochran is a student at East Carolina University (ECU), where she is pursuing a master's degree in occupational therapy. At ECU, the Department of Occupational Therapy named Cochran a Clinical Scholar, one of four students in her class expected to perform at the highest academic levels and complete a thesis.

Cochran works under the guidance of Dr. Anne Dickerson on studies to evaluate and improve the mobility of the older adult community. Her thesis will center on wayfinding, ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. Cochran's study focuses specifically on driving performance of adults while wayfinding using electronic navigation systems versus printed directions. This work will serve as a pilot study and baseline data for future research by Dunlap and Associates, Inc. and Dr. Dickerson, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, investigating the wayfinding performance of older adults who are either familiar or unfamiliar with electronic navigation systems.

"I'm enthusiastic about this research because there’s limited evidence regarding the influence of wayfinding methods on driving performance," said Cochran. "By contributing to the body of knowledge on this subject, I can provide information which may be useful to occupational therapists, as well as other professionals who design navigation aids and driver education curriculum."

In addition to her studies, Cochran has recently been certified as a CarFit Technician. The CarFit program helps educate older drivers about adjustments they can make to their seats, mirrors and driving technique to allow them to have a better view of the road, improve their brake reaction time, and sit in a position that mitigates injury in case of impact.

The purpose of the annual Megan Cornog Memorial Highway Safety Scholarship is to foster the education and professional development of graduate students with an interest in transportation safety-related areas, including, but not limited to, engineering, driver behavior, planning, public health and environment. Candidates are evaluated based on an essay, as well as academic performance, career goals, extracurricular and professional activities, and work experience.

The scholarship is named in memory of a former HSRC staff member, Megan Cornog, who died Nov. 7, 2010, at her home in Carrboro, N.C., after a courageous battle with cancer. After earning her master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2009, Megan began her career working as a project coordinator for HSRC, focusing on pedestrian and bicycle issues.
Since establishing the scholarship in 2006, HSRC has awarded eight scholarships to graduate students in the UNC system.

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About UNC Highway Safety Research Center
The mission of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) is to improve the safety, sustainability and efficiency of all surface transportation modes through a balanced, interdisciplinary program of research, evaluation and information dissemination. For more than 45 years, HSRC has been a leading research institute that has helped shape the field of transportation safety. For more information, visit www.hsrc.unc.edu.

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson
919.962.5835
dickson@hsrc.unc.edu

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