Director of Transportation Institute, Endowed Professor of Supply Chain Management

College of Business and Economics
Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management
Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics, 1601 East Market Street, 402C Craig Hall E:

Dr. Rongfang (Rachel) Liu is the UPS Endowed Professor of Supply Chain Management and Director of Transportation Institute. Dr. Liu has extensive experience in the area of intermodal transportation planning and engineering, demand forecasting and simulation modeling, and supply chain management.

She has managed long-range transportation plans for different federal, state, and local government agencies and private sector clients. She has gained this broad-based experience through her positions with consulting firms, research institutes, and government agencies as well as her extensive involvement with Transportation Research Board committees and modeling development task forces.

Combining her education background and project experiences, Dr. Liu has a firm grasp of theoretical framework and principles of transportation engineering and planning.

Research Interests

Dr. Liu's primary research interest lies in the areas of travel demand analysis and supply chain management. Ever-increasing congestion, growing environment concerns, and rapidly evolving data accumulation and analysis tools have created enormous opportunities on travel demand analysis and forecasting procedures. Unprecedented challenges, such as COVID-19 Pandemic, Economic Recession, and 9/11 disasters, have also added impetus to the long-range transportation planning process. Dr. Liu explores the frontiers of travel behavior analysis and supply chain management by applying amalgamated traditional travel surveys and crowd-sourced big data into econometric models that capture and address various travel demand issues encountered by travelers as well as service providers.

Another equally important research interest for Dr. Liu is in the area of intermodal transportation planning, which focuses on the interaction and coordination of various transportation modes, such as walkways, highways and private cars, bus, rails, and airlines. Development of more in-depth knowledge of each individual mode is needed to better understand and optimize the interaction and coordination of multimodal transportation systems. Dr. Liu's research has explored the use of guided transport systems within the intermodal and multimodal environment.

Extending her macro level simulation skills obtained from travel behavior and demand forecast, Dr. Liu has conducted research in the field of operation research and network simulations, which includes but not limited to rail transit operations, automated/driverless vehicles, and shared mobility applications. Advanced computer simulation packages are the general tools employed in this field, and challenges lie in the process of developing new and more efficient programs or functions to balance efficiency, safety and service quality.

Safety performance is critically important to transportation. Dr. Liu specializes analyzing and comparing safety performance between and among various transportation modes around the world. Dr. Liu’s team strives to reveal the true safety and security performance of various modes, regions, or time periods by evaluating and comparing the definitions of various safety conceptions, placing the safety and security data into proper contexts and developing effective solutions and/or corrective actions to improve safety and security for the respective systems.

Economic and Environmental Impact Analysis
As a trained civil and environmental engineer and planner, Dr. Liu is very aware of the significant impact of social, economic, and environmental factors on transportation systems. Federal regulations and major project development processes in the United States mandate specific responses to the environment impacts. As a result, Dr. Liu has developed a clear understanding of the interaction among land use, demographic, economic, and environmental factors and urban development, as well as transportation systems. Equipped with various research and industrial project experiences, Dr. Liu is actively championing more comprehensive evaluation of urban development and transportation policies both in the United State and internationally.

Global issues, such as recent COVID pandemic and geopolitical complications, have highlighted the importance of supply chain management. Having immersed in freight movement, logistics and infrastructure optimization for decade, Dr. Liu has applied her expertise in addressing supply chain challenges around the globe, from goods sourcing to movement tracking to system optimizations, which are essential to establish resilient, sustainable society.