Huaizhu Oliver Gao

H. Oliver Gao

Howard Simpson Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering
314 Hollister Hall
Director of Systems Engineering
Associate Director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy


Dr. Gao is the Director of the Cornell Systems Engineering Program and Howard Simpson Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. Gao is an international leading expert in urban infrastructure, transportation, and environment systems analytics/modeling and innovation for healthy living in smart communities. His research focuses on urban technology, data science, integrated computational engineering models, and trans-disciplinary systems solutions for intelligent urban systems, low carbon and low emission transportation, and human-centered urban design for environment and public health. He is an elected member in the graduate fields of 1) Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2) Computer Science and Engineering; 3) Air Quality in Earth and Atmospheric Science, and 4) Systems Engineering at Cornell University.

As the funding director, Gao spearheads cross-disciplinary systems research at the Center for Transportation, Environment, and Community Health (CTECH). Leveraging behavioral and economic sciences, epidemiology, information technology, and environmental and transportation sciences and technologies, Gao leads CTECH with a vision for systems innovations in research, teaching, and workforce development through diversity that support sustainable mobility of people and goods while preserving the environment and improving community health.

The Cornell University Post-Processing Software (CU-PPS) for air quality and congestion management developed by Gao’s group is the nation’s first web-based software integrating activity-based travel demand models with EPA MOVES model. It is the official software in use for New York City to ensure that transportation plans and programs will not cause any new violations of federal air quality standards, hence protecting a population of 12.4 million in NYC metro area. In 2014-2018, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. Before joining Cornell, Gao was a QUANT in the mathematical and econometrical modeling division at the Rohatyn Group, LLG, a Wall Street hedge fund specializing in emerging markets including the BRIC countries.

Research Interests

Gao's research interests include urban technology, data science, networks/complex systems, engineering computing, statistics/econometrics, and mathematical optimization & operations research for Urban Infrastructure/Technology Systems, Healthy Community, and Smart Cities.

  • Cooperative networked built-and-natural environment: Computational infrastructure and environment system sustainability management and optimization for the protection of human health and natural systems; inter-relationship between infrastructure and air quality, multi-scale air quality modeling– linking health risks modeling to air quality, infrastructure investment, and policy
  • Urban Tech innovation and assessment for clean transportation and community health: (hybrid-diesel electrical technology, alternative fuels, diesel retrofit, congestion pricing)— measurement, integrated modeling, and systems analytics of environment and health impacts from alternative vehicle/engine/fuel technologies and policy innovation
  • Data science, artificial intelligence, and systems analytics for the planning and management of complex systems/networks: integrated infrastructure and environment/energy systems modeling and advanced decision methodologies (e.g., low carbon and low emission transportation systems; complex systems of coupled transportation, environment and energy networks)
  • Cyber-innovation in data-driven high-fidelity urban informatics for healthy living in smart & sustainable cities: air quality and exposure monitoring, cellular microwave networks for air quality and precipitation monitoring, advanced travelers’ general information systems (ATGIS)
  • Performance-based engineering and life-cycle management of infrastructure and technology systems: mathematical modeling and control theory for life-cycle management optimization of sustainable infrastructure and environment systems--technology, system analytics, and decision science
  • Green supply chain and logistics: low carbon agriculture systems and food supply chains; mathematical systems modeling and policy analyses for food security and carbon policy
Research Group Members

Teaching Interests

  • CEE 4650/6650: Transportation systems and air quality planning and modeling 
  • SYSEN 5300/5310: Systems engineering and six sigma for the design and operation of reliable systems (including Distance Learning)
  • SYSEN 5400: Theory and application of systems architecting (including Distance Learning)
  • SYSEN 5450: Managing and Modeling Complex Systems for Organizational Leaders
  • SYSEN6000: Foundation of Complex Systems
  • SYSEN 6100: Ezra Roundtable Systems Seminar Series 

Selected Publications

  • Pan, S., L. Fultonc, A. Royd, J. Junge, Y. Choi, and H.O. Gao (2021). Shared use of electric autonomous vehicles: energy, air quality, and health impacts of future mobility in the United States, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review.
  • Keane, R., and H.O. Gao (2021). Fast calibration of car following models to trajectory data using the adjoint method, Transportation Science.
  • Akaabneh, F., Ali Diabat, H.O. Gao (2020). Benders decomposition for inventory vehicle routing problem with perishable products and environmental costs. Computers and Operations Research.
  • Amirgholy, M., M. Nourinejad, H.O. Gao (2020). Optimal traffic control at smart intersections: automated network fundamental diagram, Transportation Research Part B: Methodology.
  • Grafenstein, L; H.O. Gao (2020). Infrastructure policy and public health: evidence from OECD countries, Science of the Total Environment.
  • Lewis, Emily, J. Ponnock, Q. Cherqaoui, S. Holmdahl, Y. Johnson, A. Wong, H. O. Gao (2021). Architecting Urban Air Mobility Airport Shuttling Systems with Case Studies: Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Dallas, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.
  • Zhang, Yiye, M. Tayarani, S. Wang, Y. Liu, M. Sharma, R. Joly, A. RoyChoudhury, A. Hermann, H. O. Gao, J. Pathak (2021) Identifying Urban Built Environment Factors in Pregnancy Care and Maternal Mental Health Outcomes, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.
  • Tayarani, M.,  A. Baghestani, M. Allahviranloo, and H. O. Gao (2020). Spatial/Temporal Variability in Transportation Emissions and Air Quality In NYC Cordon Pricing, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.
  • Akaabneh, F., Ali Diabat, H.O. Gao (2020). Unified Framework for Efficient, Effective and Fair Resource Allocation at Food Banks: Approximate Dynamic Programming Approach., Omega: The International Journal of Management Science.
  • Heo, J., P. J. Adams, H.O. Gao (2016). Marginal and aggregate social costs of primary PM2.5 and inorganic PM2.5 precursor emissions in the United States, Environmental Science and Technology.
  • David, N., H.O. Gao (2016)Using cellular communication networks to detect air pollution, Environmental Science and Technology.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • James and Mary Tien Excellence in Teaching Award (Cornell, College of Engineering), 2010
  • Nomination: Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Award (Cornell University), 2010
  • University of California Transportation Center Ph.D. Dissertation Award, 2004
  • NSF Future Engineering Education Scholars (EES) Award, 2002
  • Nortel Business Plan Competition Award, and IET International Fellowship, 1998


  • B.S. (Civil Engineering), Tsinghua University, 1996
  • B.S. (Environmental Science), Tsinghua University, 1996
  • M.S. (Civil Engineering), Tsinghua University,1999
  • M.S.(Statistics), University of California, Davis, 2004
  • M.S.(Agriculture and Resource Economics), University of California- Davis, 2004
  • Ph.D.(Civil Engineering),University of California-Davis, 2004


Research Group Members

Graduate Students