Ji Min Choi (2021)

Ji Min Choi.

Jimin Choi, PhD is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, which is housed within the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo. Her research focuses on creating more inclusive environments, improving transportation accessibility, and enhancing mobility for transportation-disadvantaged populations. She is engaged in diverse research projects intended to advance equity and inclusion for underrepresented populations. She brings experience conducting experimental studies in the laboratory and field, conducting surveys and interviews with various stakeholders, analyzing data, and capturing various stakeholder perspectives. She has co-authored several papers and publications, including assessing user experiences with wheelchair securement systems and the implementation of innovative, on-demand transit services for individuals with disabilities. She earned her Bachelor in Architecture from Yonsei University and Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Seoul National University in Korea, and her PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from University at Buffalo. 

We have the world’s leading research centers housed within the School of Architecture and Planning and there are various research opportunities to collaborate with faculty members. I recommend exposing yourself to various research opportunities and learning from people with different backgrounds and strengths. 


Title: Enhancing Mobility of Older Adults and People with Disabilities


Millions of Americans experience barriers in the built environment and transportation systems that limit outdoor mobility, daily activities, social participation, and civic engagement. These barriers are exponentially worse for individuals with disabilities and older adults who may be more vulnerable to environmental constraints due to functional limitations and reduced confidence. The recent pandemic likely compounded the challenges these populations experience.

This dissertation, formatted into three papers, aimed to explore ways to push forward the study on the mobility of individuals with disabilities and older adults. The first paper examined the existing literature to understand how the relationship between the built environment and walking differs for older adults compared to young and middle-aged adults. The second paper aimed to develop a method to identify individuals’ non-home activity locations using real-life GPS traces of older adults, evaluate the model performance, and compare the differences between objectively and subjectively measured mobility data. The third paper presents the findings from an online survey that examined how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted travel behavior among individuals with disabilities and older adults. The results explore differences in travel behavior by age and disability type, as well as how daily activities amongst these populations were supported by advanced technology during the pandemic.

Several important implications emerge from the findings. First, local government and municipalities should apply innovative strategies such as multi-density zoning to enhance accessibility to destinations, support healthy aging-in-place, and enhance mobility of underserved populations. Second, the application of objectively measured data in transportation planning and health fields should be promoted to better manage and respond to transportation inequities amongst older adults and people with disabilities. Lastly, municipalities, transit agencies, and transportation service providers should utilize technology (e.g., apps, real-time information) to enhance perceptions of safety using different transportation services for individuals with disabilities and older adults and/or provide safe alternative on-demand options.

Dissertation chair/committee

Dissertation chair: Li Yin

Committee: Jordana L. Maisel, Edward Steinfeld, Bumjoon Kang

How did your experience in UB’s PhD program prepare you for your research career in urban planning?

UB’s PhD program offered a highly structured curriculum and rigorous coursework to build a solid foundation for research and opportunities to develop research skills through various research projects. While working at the IDEA Center as a Graduate Assistant, I was involved in the entire research process, including grant writing, preparing materials for the study, recruiting participants, conducting surveys and interviews, analyzing data, presenting the result, and writing up journal articles. Throughout this process, I always received support from colleagues and professors with whom I could discuss any matters and I also learned from the interaction with them. 

Selected Publication

  • Choi, J., and Maisel, J.L. (2022). Assessing the Implementation of On-demand Transportation Services for People with Disabilities. Transportation Research Record, 2676(5): 437–449. https://doi.org/10.1177/03611981211067976
  • Choi, J., Maisel, J. L., Perez, B., Nguyen, D., and Paquet, V. (2021). User Experiences with Two New Wheelchair Securement Systems in Large Accessible Transit Vehicles. Transportation Research Record, 2675(2): 150-161. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361198120954436
  • Maisel, J.L., Baek, S., and Choi, J. (2021). Evaluating Users’ Perceptions of a Main Street Corridor: Before and After a Complete Street Project. Journal of Transport & Health, 23, 101276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2021.101276
  • Maisel, J.L., Ranahan, M., and Choi, J. (2021). Factors Influencing Fixed-Route Transit Decision-Making: Exploring Differences by Disability and Community Type. Journal of Public Transportation, 23(1): 1-14. https://doi.org/10.5038/2375-0901.23.1.1

Current title and position

Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo