About Me

IMG_0025My name is ማህቶት ገብረስላሴ spelt in the alphabet of Ge’ez language, from which the name originates. In English, I spell it as Mahtot Gebresselassie. My first name is pronounced: Mah-tote.

I am a fourth-year PhD candidate (ABD) at Virginia Tech’s Planning, Governance, and Globalization Program. I am in the Urban Affairs and Planning Department and my research focuses at the junction of transportation accessibility for persons with disability and smart-city technologies. I look at the topic from three distinct and yet interrelated dimensions: equity/social justice in transportation environments, design, and economics and regulations.

During my doctoral study, my objective is to gain an understanding of various topics in transportation, including the role of transportation for disadvantaged communities in general and for persons with disabilities in particular, funding transportation infrastructure, and equity and inclusion in transportation design, planning, and policy. Technology as it relates to transportation environments and infrastructure is an important part of my research. My work at Virginia Tech has examined smart mobility tools and mobility needs of persons with disabilities mainly, with other work focusing on other transportation-disadvantaged populations such as Low-English Proficiency communities and low-income earners. Despite technology’s potential to address mobility needs of persons with disability, other factors play a significant role. Two of these are economics and regulatory frameworks. In a nutshell, my research is interdisciplinary, and I am excited to be working with talented and supportive committee members who are renowned scholars in disability studies, transportation equity, robotics, and economics.

I did my undergraduate degree in architecture and urban planning in Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. I find my training in design helps me appreciate user experience in transportation environments. It also helps me conceive urban problems spatially. You will find some of my architectural-design work here. I love design, but also writing about architecture and design. That led me to do a media/journalism program at Sheridan Institute in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. I write about architecture as a hobby for now. (Here is my blog solely dedicated to my photos and writings about the architecture of buildings.) My master’s degree was in planning from the University of Waterloo. My research there focused on media’s representation of transportation systems.

As a master’s student, I earned a certificate in Fundamentals of University Teaching at the University of Waterloo in Canada. I also had solid experience in teaching assistance-ship. During my doctoral study at Virginia Tech, I completed the Future Professoriate Certificate to complement my previous teaching training and experience. I have been a TA, instructor of record, and instructor for many courses including architectural design, interior design, theory of architecture, environmental science, structure and forms of cities, and information technology and society. I am currently an instructor of record of @FutureCities4, a mostly asynchronous online course with synchronous meetings. I am very passionate about teaching, and I love and respect my students. Not only do I teach them, I learn from them as well.

I look forward to completing my PhD program successfully and to using my subject knowledge, research experience, and teaching skills to conduct high-quality research and train the next generation of students. My goal is to help my students work with equitable and inclusive transportation futures and environments in mind. My aspiration is for my research work to contribute to improving the quality of lives of persons with disabilities as transportation affects all aspects of life. 

On a non-academic note, I am a long-standing member of Toastmasters International, certified yoga teacher, and bicycle commuter for over a decade. Meet my road bike, Louis, below. It flies like the wind! 


And here is my other bike Latakhidan Matilda. It is like your pickup truck. We have been together for almost 10 years.