Each January, the
National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board holds its Annual Meeting
in Washington, D.C., a week-long forum that brings together thousands of
transportation researchers and leaders from around the world. Due to COVID, this year’s committee meetings,
workshops, and other events will all be hosted virtually, but will be spread
over four weeks to facilitate broad participation.
WTI staff members continue their long tradition of leadership in TRB committees and other activities. During the first week of the Annual Meeting, which kicked off on January 6, highlights included:
On January 7, Jaime Sullivan was introduced as the Chair of the
newly formed Rural Transportation Issues Coordination Council at the Council’s
Also on January 7, Natalie Villwock-Witte presided over the Transportation
Needs of National Parks and Public Lands Committee, for which she serves as
Matt Ulberg participated in the Low Volume Roads Committee on January 7
Andrea Hamre serves as the Paper Review Coordinator of the Public Transportation
Marketing and Fare Policy Committee, which met on January 8
Committee meetings will
continue this week, followed by presentations, workshops and poster sessions
during the last two weeks. If you are
attending the Annual Meeting, look for WTI researchers at the following events:
January 21 – Moving Research to Practice – Ahmed Al-Kaisy will
present on research to create a new method for screening low-volume roads.
January 22 – Rob Ament and Natalie Villwock-Witte will
facilitate a workshop on National Standards for Wildlife Vehicle Data
Collection (Workshop #1041)
January 22 – Ahmed Al-Kaisy will participate in a panel
discussion on new safety developments on low-volume roads (Workshop #1044)
January 25 – Laura Fay will present her research on Deicing
Alternatives at a lecturn session on Winter Maintenance (#1093)
January 26 – Advances in Travel Behavior Research – Andrea Hamre
will present a poster on the Chittendon County, Vermont project (Poster Session
January 26 – Laura Fay will preside over a Lectern Session on Low
Volume Road Improvements under the Great American Outdoors Act (#1241)
January 27 – Jaime Sullivan will facilitate a Lectern Session
on Hot Topics in Rural Transportation (#1280)
January 28 – Hot Topics in Ecology – Mat Bell will present a
poster on the FRP wildlife crossing project (Poster Session #1363)
In 2015, WTI’s Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and West Region Transportation Workforce Center embarked on a collaborative project with partners from the Russian University of Transport (RUT), the Russian Federation’s largest university focused on transportation science and engineering. The project assessed and shared education and training resources to foster accessible transit services in small urban and rural areas.
Since that time, the international exchange of information between RUT and MSU has continued. On November 18, RUT hosted an international conference under the auspices of UNESCO and co-organized together with the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the Russian Academy of Sciences, titled “The Role of Transport Science and Education in Achieving Social, Environmental and Technological Sustainability of Societies.” RUT invited WTI to identify speakers for the conference on topics related to mobility, accessibility, sustainability and safety.
Andrea Hamre, Research Associate at the Western Transportation Institute, presented “Poverty, Race, and Transport Justice in Rural and Small Urban Communities.” Former WTI graduate research fellow and current Wildlife Biologist for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Whisper Means, presented “Relationships Across a Highway: Roadkill, Politics and Landscape Connectivity on the Flathead Indian Reservation.” Judy Shanley, Assistant Vice President at Easterseals and Director of the National Center for Mobility Management, presented “Developing a Transportation Workforce that Values the Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities in Service and Operations.”
Conservation groups – including the National Wildlife Federation, Save L.A. Cougars, and ARC (Animal Road Crossings) – marked Wildlife Crossings Week (May 4 – 8) by hosting a series of webinars on current efforts around the world to enhance habitat connectivity. Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament led a session on “Improving Ecological Connectivity: the IUCN’s Transport Working Group,” highlighting his collaborative work with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Rob’s full presentation is available to view on the event’s Facebook page.
Did you miss the Earth Optimism Summit hosted by the Smithsonian last month? It also showcased successful conservation actions during a multi-day event. WTI Research Scientist Marcel Huijser led a workshop entitled “Road Ecology – are we taking the right turns?” His presentation is now available to view at on the Summit website.
Congratulations to Jubaer Ahmed, who was one of seven finalists in the “Three Minute Thesis” Competition hosted by the Montana State University College of Engineering. On February 27, he presented “How Does Emotional Intelligence Predict Driving Behavior?” before a full house of faculty, students, and community members in the COE Inspiration Hall. The topic builds on his research for his Ph.D. and for the Center for Health and Safety Culture, where he works in collaboration with his advisor (and CHSC Director) Nic Ward.
Three Minute Thesis is a research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland in Australia. It encourages graduate students to develop their presentation skills and learn how to explain complex concepts to general audiences. Competitors must give an engaging summary of their research in only 180 seconds, using only one slide.
Fourteen WTI researchers, affiliated faculty, fellows, and staff have returned from a busy and productive week at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The premier transportation research event of the year, the meeting is attended by more than 13,000 transportation leaders, practitioners, and researchers from around the world. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, addressed attendees at the Chair’s luncheon, speaking on initiatives to deploy innovative technologies such as V2X, or “vehicle to everything” communication.
WTI staff played key roles across numerous topics and forums – presenting research at panels and in poster sessions, participating in committees, and leading workshops. One of the highlights was the well-attended workshop on “Rural Transportation for Everyone: Policy and Practice in 2020,” led by Jaime Sullivan.
SURTCOM Director David Kack traveled to Columbus, Ohio last week for the National Regional Transportation Conference, which is hosted by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). David caught up with Lonnie Hunt (center) and Bob Bashaw (right) from the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG), which partnered with WTI and SURTCOM on a project to create a voucher program in five counties in southeast Texas. Natalie Villwock-Witte was the PI for the DETCOG project, which won a 2019 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the NADO Research Foundation and Rural Planning Organizations of America (RPO America). In total, WTI worked with the NADO Research Foundation on three projects: the DETCOG project; a transit feasibility Study for Lebanon, Missouri (also led by Natalie); and a feasibility study for a commuter transit service between Cortez and Durango, Colorado (led by David). WTI staff Karalyn Clouser, Laura Fay and Rebecca Gleason also contributed to these projects.
Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) Director, Dr. Nic Ward, will be a keynote speaker at the EU Safety Conference in Luxembourg in October 2019. Dr. Ward’s presentation is titled, “Safety Culture: Creating a Sense of Responsibility for Safety in the Population at Large.” The Conference, organized by EuroSafe and the Luxembourg Institute of Health, will cover a wide range of topics related to injury prevention and safety promotion, such as road safety and safety at work. There will be opportunities for cross-cutting communications between sectors and disciplines to address issues such as: translating research into practice and policy, injury related socio-economic inequities, ageing societies, technological developments, social marketing, alcohol, fatigue, and distraction. More information about this international conference is available at the EU Safety 2019 website.
WTI Research Scientist, Tony Clevenger, presented his research on wolverines to the Bow Valley Naturalists in Alberta, Canada recently, resulting in a feature article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “Wolverine populations at risk without connectivity” discusses his study that found that the numbers of wolverines in southwest Alberta and British Columbia are much lower than previously thought, and that busy highways are one of the major barriers to species connectivity. Tony has conducted several wolverine research projects in the Canadian Crown of the Continent (CCoC) region between Banff National Park and Glacier National Park at the US border, in collaboration with both public agencies and non-profit foundations.