Associate, Harvard-China Project
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Design
When Yingying Lu was in elementary school, she was fascinated with fantasy. “Just with a pencil,” says Lu, an associate at the Harvard-China Project and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), “I was so focused in a dream world.” What turned out to be an early ambition to be a designer stuck with her. And so did her zany creativity: she was drawn to reasoning, logic, and science, too.
Such interests finally brought her to Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she fused her passions of design and science into an interdisciplinary master’s degree that later transformed into doctoral work. She asks, “how [can we] design a more sustainable built environment in both architecture and on the urban scale?” Her doctoral study focused on walking as an environmentally-friendly transport and healthy activity and how the built environment, social environment, and culture influence it.
Now, from a base at the Harvard-China Project, she collaborates with Prof. Ann Forsyth, her post-doctoral advisor at the GSD, to examine active transportation, aging in place, and healthy places. With other Harvard-China Project researchers, she contributes to analysis of environmental health and urban transportation issues. Lu enjoys the interdisciplinary comradery at the Harvard-China Project, where she contributes her people-centered research and is grateful to her colleagues at the Project and her dissertation advisors who have been “beacons” of sorts, she says, “lead[ing] the way to go further in my research path.”
To this day, Lu is reminded of the world-building daydreams she had as a young girl: she wants to make her vision of healthful, equitable, and eco-friendly cities a reality. Her prior work on walking may serve as a springboard to this broader goal. “For a city to be efficient, it needs a really effective transportation system to support all mobilities and it should be human-oriented,” she says.
Looking to the future, sustainable transportation is one such area she intends to pursue while here. “I wish to contribute to a more pedestrian-oriented, multi-modal transportation system,” she says, focusing on health and aging, and diverting car usage to lower pollutant emissions. “So it’s a better environment for all populations.”
(Written by Liza Tarbell)