Associate Professor Doina Olaru

Started at UWA: 2000

Improving our cities' transport services through data modelling

Our cities continue to grow and evolve, but we should be wise about the changes we adopt.Associate Professor Doina Olaru

Associate Professor Doina Olaru is a transport researcher at the UWA Business School. She applies mathematical modelling to investigate the best ways in which transport services are catering for the mobility needs of our cities, as she wants to see them thriving. She’s a transport engineer by background and she loves trains.

Associate Professor Olaru’s current research focus is on modelling public transport patronage, using wearables for collecting travel behaviour and physical activity data, and examining enablers and barriers for the uptake of autonomous vehicles.

She is an award-winning educator in the UWA Business School, describing her teaching style as engaging, with the intention of helping students be active knowledge creators. She currently teaches Quantitative Business Research Methods BUSN4402 and Data Analysis and Decision Making MGMT5504.

Bachelor of Engineering, University Politehnica of Bucharest
PhD in Transport Engineering
External positions
2003 – 2005, Post-doctoral Research Scientist - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) – Atmospheric Research
2000 – 2002, Lecturer at UWA Business School
1995 – 1999, Assistant Professor at University Politehnica of Bucharest
1989 – 1995, Engineer at Romanian State Railways
UWA Business School Excellence in Teaching Award for Postgraduate Class, 2015
UWA Business School Excellence in Teaching Award for Undergraduate Class, 2008
Nominations Excellence in Teaching Award UWA Business School, 2019, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2002 (undergraduate, postgraduate, and supervision)
What I love most is the multidisciplinary work with academics from many domains and interacting with my students, challenging them to be the best they can be. Students are an infinite source of fresh ideas, an inspiration.Associate Professor Doina Olaru


ARC competitive grants

  • ARC Linkage Project – LP190100558 – 'Map My Say - An innovative participatory mapping tool for TOD evaluation'
  • ARC Discovery Project – DP130100570 – 'Modelling Network Innovation Performance Capability: A Multidisciplinary Approach'
  • ARC Linkage Project – LP110201150 – 'Modelling and evaluating the joint access mode and train station choice. Park and Ride'
  • ARC Linkage Project – LP100100436 – 'Analysis and modelling of driving patterns for limited-range electric vehicles'
  • ARC Linkage Project – LP0562422 – 'Impacts of Transit Led Development in a New Rail Corridor'

Industry grants

  • iMOVE Intelligent Transport Systems Australia ex Cooperative Research Centre CRC 2017–2019 – 'Enhanced short and longer term network performance prediction capabilities through data-driven analytics and simulation'
  • RailSmart Wanneroo Planning Support System – Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Smart Cities and Suburbs Program 2017–2019 – 'Smart Cities' Wanneroo
  • WA Department of Planning 2016–2017 – 'Addressing Future Uncertainties of Perth at 3.5 Million: What-If Scenarios for Mass Transit'
  • WA Department of Transport grant 2014–2016 – 'Mass Transit Plan for Perth at 3.5 Million and Beyond'
  • The Royal Automotive Club of WA 2014–2015 - 'Activity Centre Accessibility'

Other grants

  • Healthway WA 2018-2019 – 'Active travel: Using wearable technology to analyse daily travel behaviour'


Healthway Active Travel

Using wearable technology to analyse daily travel behaviour project fuses data from multiple research data collection instruments and devices (time-use diaries, smartwatches, video cameras) with participant interviews to better understand the role of active travel in achieving the recommendations of daily physical activity, as well as the potential of passive (wearables) in measuring activity-travel behaviour. The project’s results will inform the YourMove program of the Department of Transport (DoT) and the Heart Foundation’s Healthy Active by Design program.

Trends in public transport patronage in Perth

Through data-driven analytics, the ‘Understanding short and longer term patronage and network performance’ project with iMove and the Western Australian Department of Transport examines trends and patterns in public transport patronage in Perth, focusing primarily on monthly SmartRider data.

It is a project integrating more than 30 datasets covering socioeconomic indicators, changes in land-use and employment, changes in transport services and congestion conditions, special events, weather, etc. to understand spatial and temporal variation of patronage and its determinants, to derive price elasticities and predict ridership. Multiple econometrics, latent growth, spatial modelling and visualisation techniques have been applied in this research.

Supervisor opportunities

Associate Professor Olaru has supervised postgraduate students for 20 years on a variety of topics including the connection of urban form and travel behaviour, environmental impacts of transport, exposure to air pollutants, alternative vehicle and fuel technologies, relocation and value uplift associated with transport accessibility, and simulation of various transport systems.

She is open to supervising new PhD candidates: “I would be delighted to further explore pathways of adoption of autonomous vehicles and the land-use integration aspects related to them.”