Kate Lowe and Nicholas Klein: Commuting in Context: Qualitative Research of Transportation Challenges for Low-Income Workers

photo of street with buses and cars with subway over bridge

Chicago Loop Link Line Benjamin Cruz

Russell Van Nest Black Lecture


Kate Lowe (Ph.D. '11)studies transportation at the intersection of policy, funding, and social equity. Her work examines how varied stakeholders and transportation policies interact across different levels of government and how this impacts transportation investments. Much of her work has focused on how federal funding programs interface with local funding, with an emphasis on equity implications. She also studies the transportation perspectives and experiences of low-income populations and has completed work on low-income households in Louisiana. Most recently, she is turning to racial dynamics and local investment choices around streetcars, as well as Chicago-based qualitative research on low and moderate-income communities of color. She received a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell University, an M.A. in community development and planning from Clark University, and a B.A. in cultural anthropology from Bard College.

Nicholas J. Klein's (B.S. '01) research contributes to two central areas of transportation planning: understanding the factors that influence how people travel on a daily basis and how these changes play out over the course of their lives. His work focuses on marginalized populations and neighborhoods that use transit, walk, and bike at high rates. By studying factors that influence how people in these communities travel and how this evolves over many years, his work offers new perspectives for planners, policymakers, and researchers on issues of equity and sustainability in transportation.

He received his Ph.D. from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, a master's degree in urban spatial analytics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree in operations research and industrial engineering from Cornell University. Klein previously taught at Columbia University, Temple University, and Pratt Institute.


Professor Lowe will present a recent research project on transportation’s role in access to opportunity among Chicago residents, especially communities of color. This research draws on a series of focus groups with job seekers and job coaches to identify and understand the lived transportation experiences and disadvantages of job seekers. The research highlights the complex web of transportation barriers to employment that disadvantaged workers experience. Following the presentation, professors Lowe and Klein will discuss the role of qualitative research within transportation planning research.

If you would like to attend this lecture, please register here.

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Nicholas J. Klein

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