Rachael Thompson Panik, AICP
PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology
The way we move through space unequivocally shapes our lives. Rachael wants to make sure it’s for the better.
Rachael grew up northern Alabama, but she fell in love with urban places while visiting Tokyo as a student ambassador. Since then, she’s spent the rest of her education learning about urban places and the challenges they create. Rachael attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham for a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and Japanese. Her team of mentors encouraged her to embrace a broadened education, directing her volunteering, advocacy, and service in the Birmingham community. Those experiences compelled her to obtain an urban planning degree from Clemson University, where she learned about the planning and policy decisions that make places great.
After graduating with her master’s degree, Rachael practiced as a multimodal transportation planner and engineer, working in communities all over the U.S. This work clarified for her the inequities built into the transportation system, especially in terms of safety outcomes for vulnerable travelers. She decided to return to school to pursue research that will ultimately help address systemic transportation problems.
Now, Rachael contributes to the body of research that reshapes that narrative that traveling must be a dangerous endeavor. Her various areas of research share the common thread of safety outcomes in the context of complex systems. See her most recent work on the publications page.
Graduate Research Assistant
Research Topics: Safe systems; Safety education in engineering programs; Vulnerable road user safety; Non-motorized traveler data; Mobility during COVID-19 pandemic; Multimodal travel behavior
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Classes: Multimodal Transportation Engineering (Instructor of Record) | Sustainable Transportation Abroad