Rajaram Bhagavathula's Website



About Me

human factors engineer, lighting scientist, & Science Communicator

I am a seasoned research scientist with over 10 years of experience managing large-scale research projects and partnering with diverse cross-functional teams. Recognized for evangelizing research findings to develop specifications and standards that improve traffic safety. Professional focal points include project management, research, technical writing, team collaboration, and leadership.

Currently, I am a Senior Research Associate in the Center for Infrastructure-Based Safety Systems at Virginia Technical Transportation Institute. I guide and manage the design, execution, analysis, and communicating the results of human factors research projects focused on understanding and improving road user behavior. Additionally, I liaise with senior management, stakeholders, and cross-functional teams to ensure the organization’s operational support structure drives it forward.



Virginia Tech Transportation institute, Senior Research Associate

July 2016 - Present

  • Direct and oversee design, management, execution, analysis, write-up, and presentation of human factors research projects focused on understanding and improving road users’ behavior and thus promoting traffic safety.

  • Function as Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator, and Project Manager for several large-scale transportation safety, human factors, usability studies totaling over $1.5M in research funding sponsored by federal, state, and private organizations.

  • Craft strategy and vision for accomplishing project goals by working with researchers from diverse areas.

  • Establish a virtual reality lab to evaluate safety in-built environment and understand perceptual differences between real and virtual environments.

  • Guide development of national and international specifications and standards that increase safety, and perceptions of comfort and security for all road users.

  • Oversee researchers and staff (10+).

  • Acquired expertise in data collection and reduction; statistical analysis of qualitative and quantitative data.

  • Authored numerous scientific publications, technical reports, and presented at conferences and professional organizations shown in the following sections.

Virginia Tech Transportation institute, Research Associate

August 2013 - July 2016

  • Conducted human factors research focused on evaluation of infrastructure-based safety systems to understand and improve road user behavior.

  • Acted as Project Manager for several large-scale human factors research studies.

  • Developed statistical data analysis on parametric data collected from instrumented vehicles.

Virginia Tech Transportation institute, Graduate Research Assistant

February 2007 - August 2013

  • Administered human factors research focused on understanding driver behavior under different lighting conditions and the evaluation of infrastructure-based safety systems.

  • Led experimental studies; performed data analysis; wrote reports and presented research findings at conferences.

  • Created data reduction tool for recording eye glance data and lighting data.

  • Examined factors affecting red light running violations at signalized intersections.

  • Contributed to development and evaluation of advanced vehicle systems for large-scale collaboration between government and private agencies.

  • Aided in development of a threat assessment algorithm to predict violations at intersections.

Technical Proficiency

Microsoft Office Suite, MATLAB, SAS, Jmp, Minitab, R, LaTex, Tableau, ArcGIS and SQL.






Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Graduated December 2015

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Graduated December 2008


Graduated April 2006


Young professional scholarship, illuminating engineering society, 2014
Emerging Professional sponsorship, illuminating engineering society, 2015, 2016, and 2018.



Elected Representative for Research Faculty on Virginia Tech’s Commission on Research, 2018 - Present

Member, Standing Committee on Visibility, Transportation Research Board, 2017 - Present

Member, Roadway Lighting Committee, Dark Adapted Glare Committee, Illuminating Engineering Society, 2017 - Present

President, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society - Virginia Tech Student Chapter, 2010-11.

President, Cricket Club of Virginia Tech - Department of Recreational Sports, Virginia Tech, 2010-11


Linkedin: brajaram
Twitter: @rjbhagg


RECENT publications

Google Scholar

Magazine Articles

Popular Science (September, 2018). Our street lighting doesn’t need to be this bad.

Roads & Bridges (January, 2018). Limiting glare.

LD+A (March, 2017). Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice.

LD+A (February, 2016). Looking for ‘Just Right’ in Roadway Lighting.

Conference Proceedings

For a complete list refer to my CV

Transportation Research Board 98th Annual Meeting (January, 2019). Effect of Intersection Lighting Design on Drivers’ Perceived Visibility and Glare.

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (September, 2018). The Reality of Virtual Reality: A Comparison of Pedestrian Behavior in Real and Virtual Environments.

IES Street and Area Lighting Conference (October, 2018). Lighting for Parking Facilities.

Active Living Research Conference 2018 (February, 2018). Exploring the Relationship Between Street Lighting Levels and Physical Activity After Dark: Results of a Pilot Study.


Professional Service

Invited Technical Reviewer - Journals

Lighting Research and Technology

Leukos - The Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America

Journal of Construction Engineering

Frontiers in Psychology

Accident Analysis and Prevention

The Open Transportation Journal

SAE International Journal of Connected and Automated Vehicles

Invited Technical Reviewer - Conferences

Transportation Research Board

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting

Society of Automobile Engineers World Congress and Exhibition

Usability Professionals Association Annual Meeting