SPDC PhD student Leah Mo earns ESPP’s Summer Fellowship to support her urban environmental data analytics research

Construction Management PhD student Leah Mo, in the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction, was selected for the 2017 Environmental Science & Policy Research Summer Fellowship.

Image of Leah Mo.
Leah Mo, PhD student, earns an ESPP Summer Fellowship to support her research.

Construction Management PhD student Leah Mo, in the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction, was selected for the 2017 Environmental Science & Policy Research Summer Fellowship. Leah said the fellowship supported her travel for the International Workshop on Computing for Civil Engineering in June 2017 where she presented her projects, and supported her 2017 summer research.

The goal of the program is to provide funding to doctoral students to support the next generation of scientists and to advance work in urban environment at Michigan State University.

The Urban Environment Summer Fellowship program provides funds to be used to enhance the educational and research experience of graduate students at MSU whose research focuses on any of the many aspects of environmental science pertinent to urban settings.

In order to apply for the fellowship, a student must submit an application, including a cover letter, a short statement about their research topic, a support letter from their advisor and their CV. The selection process is extremely competitive.

Mo said she was introduced to the fellowship through a newsletter.

“My advisor Dong Zhao [PhD, assistant professor in the construction management program] and my professor Matt Syal [PhD, professor in the construction management program] suggested that I apply for this fellowship,” she said.

Mo’s research focused on urban environmental data analytics with two different sub-topics.

The first research investigated the associations between various external factors and energy uses in residential buildings. Mo employed advanced machine learning analytics to model the correlations between construction costs and energy use data collected from multifamily residential units.

The second research demonstrated an effort to automatically predict the reaction type and the necessary crews through mining textual descriptions of service request.

“I have been working on research for energy saving and retrofitting in residential and commercial buildings regarding occupant behavior for more than seven years,” Mo said.

“I believe that this fellowship was a really good chance for me to develop my research further in this field. I was very glad that I received this fellowship,” she said. “I’m also able to share research ideas with other students and professors working on urban environmental in the field.”

Findings from her research will allow stakeholders in urban environment to develop more efficient energy strategies and construction work process. The methodologies can be expanded to other urban environmental issues, including sustainable building technologies, energy savings and occupant behavior.

Mo recently wrote and submitted a journal paper about the research, which is currently under review. Her ongoing study is developing an occupant behavior prediction model by energy consumption using a machine learning approach.

Mo said that her plans for the future include continuing her work on sustainable building technologies, building energy savings and occupant behavior. She also plans to work in academia as a professor and researcher in the construction management field.

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