Mountains and Minds is Montana State University’s premier print publication for showcasing the institution’s people, events, and accomplishments. Published only twice a year, Mountains and Minds selected some familiar young fish for the new edition’s coveted cover photo: young grayling from the Bozeman Fish Technology Center (BFTC), raised for the fish passage research conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Montana State University (MSU) Department of Ecology, the MSU Department of Civil Engineering, and WTI.
In addition to the cover photo, the magazine includes a 10-page feature story (and stunning photo spread!) describing the 15 years of research conducted by these partners to better understand how native fish species move through waterways and how to improve fish passage through their habitats. WTI Research Scientist Matt Blank is interviewed about his early culvert research as well as his efforts with the partners to build the artificial flume at BFTC for fish swimming studies. Graduate students Ben Triano and Nolan Platt discuss their field work in the Big Hole River studying grayling in their native environment.
WTI Newswire will provide a link to the article when this issue is available online. Details about the grayling research are available on the WTI website; more information about the collaborative research program is available on the MSU Fish Passage webpage.
Last week, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced that a new aviation portal is now available to provide crucial information for pilots, airport operators, first responders and others who need real-time weather conditions throughout California. The Aviation Weather Information (AWI) portal links dozens of commonly used aviation weather websites into one location. Users can quickly and easily find information about current wind speed, temperature, visibility, air pressure and weather conditions at dozens of locations on a single, mapped based website.
Caltrans created the website with the assistance of a team from WTI, through the “Integration of Aviation AWOS and RWIS” project. In the news release about the website launch, Caltrans stated that it recognized the value of the site during the prototype stage, when it was used to gather weather data during an earthquake in 2014, a dam incident in 2017, and mudslides in 2018. Principal Investigator Doug Galarus, who has led the effort since its inception, added: “I am proud of the great job my team did on this project. Dan Richter, Leann Koon and numerous students worked on the Aviation project through the years to help get it to this point.”
Congratulations to the Small Urban, Rural, and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), which was selected to host the 2020 meeting of the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC). SURTCOM, a University Transportation Center housed at WTI, will hold the 3-day meeting in Big Sky, Montana in the summer of 2020. These events provide an opportunity for UTC Directors from across the country to share ideas and best practices on improving UTC programs and maximizing available resources. Officials from USDOT, which sponsors the UTC program, also attend to provide the directors with program training and updates. “While each UTC might specialize in a particular region or research area, we all share the same goal of trying to maximize the impact of our research,” said SURTCOM Director David Kack; “we’re looking forward to showcasing some of the successes at our UTC and learning a lot from everyone else at the 2020 meeting.”
CUTC celebrated its 40th anniversary at the 2018 meeting earlier this month, when Montana’s selection as the host for 2020 was announced. WTI Director Steve Albert is a long-time member and former President of the organization. WTI last hosted the meeting in 2006.
A few weeks ago, we reported that WTI Research Ecologist Marcel Huijser had departed for Brazil to serve as a guest professor and researcher at the University of São Paulo for the summer. In his first update, he sent photos from a field trip with his Road Ecology students to the Cerrado ecosystem on the Brazilian savannah. Looking for wildlife in some locations required special precautions – all members of the group wore snake bite leggings, and they were accompanied by police officers because of the possibility of encountering poachers. However, their research cameras are already capturing amazing photos, like the one below of a maned wolf.
A Feasibility Study of a Driverless, Electric Para-Transit System in Rural Areas
PI: Yiyi Wang
Paratransit systems can improve transportation access for disabled, elderly, and other populations that don’t drive or own a personal vehicle; however, in rural areas, providing these services to small populations over long distances can be cost-prohibitive. This project will conduct a feasibility study on a pilot paratransit system operated by driverless, electric vans that connect rural towns. Three research questions will be explored:
• What is likely to be the benefit/cost ratio of an automated paratransit system, compared to that of existing rural transit systems?
• What are community perceptions and attitudes toward autonomous systems in rural areas?
• What are the barriers or incentives of providing a smart, electrical paratransit system in rural areas?
The answers to these questions will help strategically plan smart infrastructure for the rural poor and elderly to improve their quality of life while reducing social and environmental costs. Specifically, it will investigate whether the deployment of autonomous, electrical vans can accommodate unmet transportation needs in rural areas.
This project will be conducted by the Small Urban, Rural, and Tribal Center on Mobility, a federally-authorized University Transportation Center housed at WTI. The research will be led by Principal Investigators Yiyi Wang, Mike Wittie, and Ahmed Al-Kaisy. Updates on the project will be available on the WTI website project page.
In ongoing efforts to expand international research partnerships, WTI is developing a memorandum of agreement with Francesca Russo, PhD of the Road Infrastructures and Transportation Systems Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (DICEA) at the University Federico II of Naples Scuola Politecnica e delle Scienze in Naples, Italy. Led by WTI Program Manager Laura Fay, this collaboration was born from service on the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Low Volume Roads Committee, and will focus on cooperative studies and research exchanges.
WTI Research Engineer Natalie Villwock-Witte recently had the opportunity to meet some of the staff on the campus. Everyone at WTI is looking forward to working with these new partners, and seeing what innovations emerge from sharing ideas between the two countries.
WTI Researcher Tony Clevenger was co author on a recently released paper, “Environmental challenges for the Belt and Road Initiative.” The Belt and Road Initiative will greatly inﬂuence the future of global trade. However, it may also promote permanent environmental degradation. We call for rigorous strategic environmental and social assessments, raising the bar for environmental protection worldwide.
View the article here, or on the following web site: NatureResearchSustainability