Burack Distinguished Lecturer Explores Our Ability To Multitask

Many of us spend our days checking emails while walking to and from the office or listening to music and watching the GPS while we are driving our cars.  We probably think we accomplishing more by doing multiple things at once and you probably think your pretty good at it.  According to research conducted by Dr. Patricia Mokhtarian, it’s unlikely you are doing as a great a job as you think you are.

Dr. Mokhtarian visits with TRC Graduate Research Assistants in Farrell Hall.

Dr. Mokhtarian visits with TRC Graduate Research Assistants in Farrell Hall.

Dr. Mokhtarian was on campus Monday, April 14th as a guest lecturer for the Burack Distinguished Lecture series.  This series brings speakers from many disciplines and backgrounds to campus to share ideas and research.  The Transportation Research Center had applied to bring Dr. Mokhtarian to campus because of her research on travel behavior and because of her diverse background in quantitative transportation research.

Dr Mokhtarian Speaking

Dr. Mokhtarian discusses her research on Multi-tasking as part of her Burack Lecture.

Her presentation explained just how much effort it takes to multitask and provided an understanding of just what multitasking is.  In her research, Dr. Mokhtarian tries to understand what multitasking is doing to our travel behavior such as the impact of multitasking on the number of trips we are taking.  Her research explores how telecommuting and other technologies affect the number of trips we are taking. Some of her research seemed almost counter intuitive when she explained that telecommuting has actually increased the number of trips we are taking.  It would seem that access to video conferencing and other technologies would mean we don’t have to travel as much.  Actually, the reason we are driving more is pretty logical;  We are using telecommuting to replace business trips and meetings and filling those holes in our schedule with traveling for pleasure.

Dr Mokhtarian Gift

Dr. Mokhtarian accepts a gift and thank you from TRC Faculty Member, Dr. Brian Lee.

During Dr. Mokhtarians visit, she met with students, faculty, and staff on campus to share her insights as well as get an idea of research being conducted at UVM.  This was the second Burack Lecture series speaker the Transportation Research Center brought to campus this year, the previous being Dr. Holguin-Veras.

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