CSUS faculty spotlight: Tongbin “Teresa” Qu

Dr. Qu's research and teaching in the area of sustainable and inclusive transportation excites her and helps her continue to learn new things.

Tongbin "Teresa" QuName:

Tongbin “Teresa” Qu

Departmental Home:

Department of Community Sustainability


Associate Professor

What year did you join MSU?


Educational Background (undergraduate and graduate program):

Ph.D., Urban and Regional Science, Texas A&M University
M.S., Transportation Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
B.S., Civil Engineering, TongJi University, Shanghai, China


Beijing, China

Field of study or area of interest:

Sustainable and inclusive transportation, walking and biking, mobility for all age and abilities

Why did you choose to pursue your area of interest or field of study?

I was introduced to transportation since I was a child as my father was a railway engineer. I have always been amazed by how transportation can take people to any corner of the world. On the other hand, I have also observed firsthand how roads bring economic growth in some remote villages in China, however, deteriorate the environment and natural beauty of the places. How to make the transportation sustainable while also moving people and goods efficiently has been my interest and life purpose.

What is one exciting thing you’re currently working on?

Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) are a revolutionary technology which can have significant impact on our society. How to utilize the technology to make the world more sustainable while helping the people in need is something that I am working on. More specifically, I am looking at the mobility impact by AVs for those who cannot drive or are not willing to drive, for example, older people or people with disabilities.

What’s the best part about your job?

Learning new things. I believe that teaching and research are mutually beneficial. To be able to learn new things during teaching and research excites and motivates me. I found myself learning from colleagues and students all the time.

What is one of the most impactful things you’ve done as a scholar at MSU?

If something I have done at MSU somehow triggered someone’s interests in sustainable transportation, I would consider that being the most impactful. I developed and taught a new campus wide course on sustainability and climate change as well as a sustainable transportation course (in the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at MSU) which I hope to continue to teach in CSUS. Also, I led a campus wide mobility survey in 2019 to facilitate the MSU sustainable campus application. I am very glad that MSU achieved Gold STARS rating.

Who is an influential or inspiring person in your life or career?

There are too many inspiring people in my life. Some are well known, such as Michelle Obama and Sonia Sotomayor. Some are more personal, such as my middle school math teacher and my PhD committee professors. I am forever grateful to my PhD committee members. I gave birth to two daughters while working on my PhD and holding a full-time job for the most part. I was so exhausted taking care of two babies and working that I wanted to quit pursuing the degree. One of the members refused to sign on my withdraw paperwork and told me that I was too close to quit. One of the members stepped up to be the committee chair when the original chair left the university. I would not be where I am without their help and encouragement.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I love travel, bicycling, cooking, and spending time with my family. My younger daughter is a national level diver. I often take her to competitions all over the places. I was able to visit some exciting places and middle of nowhere towns where I would not otherwise go if not for her diving.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Before going to sleep every night, think of 5 things of the day that you are grateful.

Do you have any thoughts or advice to share with students?

This is not a cliche: Do what you love and love what you do. If you don’t like something, change it.

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