North Carolina State University Student Awarded HSRC Scholarship

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Aug. 16, 2015) — The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) announced today the winner of the 2015 Megan Cornog Memorial Highway Safety Scholarship – Hallie Clark.

Clark is a student at North Carolina State University (NCSU), where she is pursuing a master’s degree in human factors and applied cognition. Her research interests include autonomous driving, attention and spatial cognition, human-computer interaction and interface design.

Clark is currently working on two research projects in the Department of Psychology at NCSU. The first, with Dr. Jing Feng, uses the school’s interactive driving simulator to study autonomous driving behavior. The study aims to determine the effect of the transition between manual and semi-automated driving by analyzing various driving performance measures such as longitudinal velocity, standard deviation of lane position, brake input and throttle input during a unique driving scenario. A second, but related, study measures how emotion affects performance while driving, specifically performance while controlling autonomous vehicles.

“Understanding driver behavior is a crucial part of the development of driving technologies. It is important to understand the factors that impact behavior, such as emotion, and how that will play into driving performance as we transition to a more advanced method of driving,” said Clark. “I am excited about this research because it provides a platform for discussion between many fields of research about the future of driving, particularly what should be considered to keep the driver at the forefront of the design.”

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 a written 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 nine scholarships to graduate students in the UNC system.