UTC Students Honored at TRB

The 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting kicked off over the weekend in Washington, D.C.  At the Council of University Transportation Center (CUTC) banquet on Saturday, the University Transportation Center (UTC) Students of the Year were honored.  Each UTC nominates an outstanding graduate student who receives a certificate from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $1000 award, and travel expenses to attend the TRB Annual Meeting.  The Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), both led by WTI, each had the opportunity to recognize the research accomplishments of an exemplary student this year.

Karalyn Clouser

Congratulations to Karalyn Clouser, who was selected as the SURLC Student of the Year.  Karalyn has been a Research Associate at WTI for five years and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Sustainable Transportation at the University of Washington.  With her background in Planning and GIS, she has provided invaluable research assistance not only to SURLC, but also to the National Center for Rural Road Safety and the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center.  Most recently, she completed a project where she developed four different bus route combinations for a potential new transit service in Lebanon, Missouri. She also helped update the Rural ITS Toolkit, a USDOT-sponsored resource on advanced transportation technologies.

 

 

 

Zach Becker

Kudos also go out to Zachary Becker who was selected to represent SURTCOM.  Zach attends Eastern Washington University, where he is nearing completion of a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning.  His research focuses on the mobility and accessibility challenges faced by tribal reservations in northwestern states. He created a parcel-level, GIS database containing network distances from nearly every parcel in Washington state to the nearest healthcare facility.  The database compares distances on tribal reservations to distances on nontribal lands. Zach has been invited to present this research at four national conferences.

Visit the WTI website for more information on our UTC Research Centers and our Education Programs.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CHSC Welcomes Jubaer Ahmed

Close-up photo of Graduate Student Jubaer Ahmed
Graduate Student Jubaer Ahmed

Graduate students who are interested in the emerging field of traffic safety culture are finding intriguing research opportunities at the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC).  Recently, Jubaer Ahmed joined CHSC as a Graduate Student Research Assistant, where he is helping with a project to understand driver beliefs regarding impaired driving for the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.  With his advisor (and CHSC Director) Nic Ward, Jubaer is also developing a dissertation topic on the relationship between emotional intelligence and traffic safety culture.

Currently working toward a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, Jubaer holds a Master’s Degree in Logistics, Trade, and Transportation from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. He previously worked for Chevron in Bangladesh as a Health and Safety Specialist, which inspired his interest in safety research that will protect people from serious injuries and fatalities.

Jubaer has a packed schedule with his research at CHSC, his position as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and his Ph.D. studies.  In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and exploring the national parks with his wife and three children.  After seeing snow for the first time last winter, he hopes to add skiing to his future activities!

Student Success: Two WTI students join Professional Staff

When WTI hires and mentors great students, it is a win-win for the organization and for aspiring young professionals. WTI’s two most recent hires both started as part-time student employees while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Montana State University.

New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT
New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT

Kelley Hall has been part of the WTI family since 2014. She started as a Student Administrative Assistant, staffing the front desk and helping out in the Business Office.  She progressively added more responsibilities, including assistance on various projects.  After graduating from MSU with a B.A. in Political Science, she joined WTI as a Research Assistant. She currently serves as a Project Assistant in the Road Ecology program, focusing on the Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination project for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In addition, she serves as a Research Associate for the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC), managing technology transfer activities and providing support to several projects on traffic safety culture, seat belt use, and underage drinking.

A native of Sheridan, Wyoming, Kelley moved to Bozeman in 2012 as an MSU freshman.  In addition to juggling her many responsibilities at WTI, she loves outdoor sports (both summer and winter) and photography.  Somehow, she has even found time to begin classes toward a Master’s in Public Administration!

Danielle (Dani) Hess was recently named a Project Assistant for mobility projects with the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility.  Dani first joined WTI in February 2016 as a student assistant in the Mobility program, helping with community outreach for the Bozeman Commuter project and other local initiatives.  In early May, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Community Health (with Highest Honors!) from MSU and was promoted to a full-time WTI employee. She will now be able to continue her work on the Transportation Demand Management project with the City of Bozeman and the “pop-up” traffic calming projects on local roads.

Dani grew up in Helena, Montana, and has lived in Bozeman for the last five years.  When she is not encouraging people to walk, bike, or take the bus to work, you will probably find her enjoying the outdoors, most likely on her mountain bike.  This summer, she is looking forward to coaching kids with Bozeman Youth Cycling’s summer mountain biking program.

Welcome to the new Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF)

Public Lands Transportation Fellows pose for photo. Mentor Jaime Sullivan, Fellow Corinne Jachelski, Fellow Dylan Corbin, Fellow Vince Ziols and mentor Phil Shapiro (right) at the Bandelier National Monument.
Mentor Jaime Sullivan, Fellow Corinne Jachelski, Fellow Dylan Corbin, Fellow Vince Ziols and mentor Phil Shapiro (right) at the Bandelier National Monument.
The Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) Program hosted a three-day orientation in late June to welcome its incoming class of participants. Since 2013, the program has offered 11-month fellowships to outstanding masters and doctoral graduates in a transportation-related field. They are assigned to work with staff at a Federal Land Management Agency (FLMA) unit or region/field office facing a transportation issue to facilitate a transportation planning or implementation project. The program (previously known as the Scholars program) is managed at WTI by Jaime Sullivan.

After a competitive application process, three fellows were selected by WTI and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the 2018-19 year for placements at USFWS sites.Vince Ziolswill work with the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge to improve access for those who want to travel to the refuge by alternative modes of transportation, such as bike and pedestrian modes. At the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge,Corinne Jachelskiwill manage several trail projects and work with community groups to create greater access to recreation opportunities and improve visitor experience. Dylan Corbin will assist with several projects at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, including updating the Complex’s Transportation Plan, serving as a liaison for several transportation improvement projects, and expanding free and low-cost access to refuge sites.

For the orientation, the fellows traveled to Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Albuquerque, New Mexico for presentations and workshops that will prepare them for a successful work and fellowship experience within their USFWS refuge unit. Presenters included USFWS staff, program mentors, and numerous former fellows, who covered topics ranging from building strong partnerships to writing successful grant applications to developing effective marketing campaigns. The fellows also had the opportunity to explore Valle de Oro NWR, Bandelier National Monument, and Petroglyph National Monument.

For more information, visit the PLTF Program page on the WTI website.
Logo banner for the Public Lands Transportation Fellows Program managed by WTI

Congratulations, Graduates!

WTI was well-represented at the Montana State University graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 5.  Congratulations to Amir Jafari, Ph.D., and Amir Jamali, Ph.D., who were awarded their doctorates in Engineering. Both students conducted transportation research at WTI during their graduate studies, under the mentorship of Dr. Ahmed Al-Kaisy and Dr. Yiyi Wang. Best of luck from everyone at WTI!

Amir Jamali, Yiyi Wang, Ahmed Al-Kaisy, and Amir Jafari

MSU Video Shows Students “Crushing it” in the Research Lab

Professor Mike Berry and his students had the opportunity to show off their efforts to develop and test ultra-high performance concrete in a Montana State University (MSU) feature article and video published on the MSU website last week.  The research stems from a collaboration between the Montana Department of Transportation, MSU College of Engineering, and WTI to formulate an affordable version of ultra-high performance concrete with materials available in Montana.  In the video, Berry also discusses how the research has allowed many students to gain valuable “hands-on” experience testing the strength and durability of construction materials in the lab.  The story also gained national attention last week when it was featured in the Daily Transportation Update of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  The article, photos, and video are available on the MSU website, and more project information is available on the project’s webpage.

WTI Researchers Return from Busy Week at TRB

WTI researchers have returned from a busy week at the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  Attracting transportation leaders from around the country, the TRB Annual Meeting is the premier national transportation research gathering of the year.  Many WTI researchers are leaders and members of TRB committees, are selected to lead workshops, or invited to present their research.

TRB also provides an opportunity for graduate students to gain professional presentation skills, and network with transportation researcher and practitioners.  MSU doctoral student Amir Jamali presented two projects on pedestrian safety at a TRB poster session: “Pedestrian Crash Hotspot Identification Using Two-Step Floating Catchment Area Method and Machine Learning Tools,” and “Analysis of Pedestrian Injury Severity Levels for Intersection Crashes in Rural and Small Urban Areas.”  The posters were based on findings from a WTI project to develop a pedestrian safety planning tool, led by Dr. YiYi Wang.

Graduate Student Amir Jamali at TRB Poster Session

WTI Researchers had the opportunity to present research and collaborate with colleagues on topics that included traffic safety culture, crash reduction strategies, unpaved and low volume roads, design features of two-lane highways, transit accessibility, and workforce development:

    • Laura Fay presented “National Updates on Converting Distressed Paved Roads to Engineered Unpaved Roads” at a Lectern Session on Converting Distressed Paved Roads to Engineered Unpaved Roads.  As Host of the 2019 Low Volume Roads conference, she also presented conference updates to the Low Volume Roads Committee, and the Conference Planning subcommittee.
    • Ahmed Al-Kaisy presented on three of his current research topics.  He discussed “Traffic Operations on Rural Two-Lane Highways: A Review on Performance Measures and Indicators” at a session on Uninterrupted Flow; he presented an “Evaluation of Passing Lane Design Configurations on Two-Lane Highways” at a session on Performance-Based Geometric Design: Criteria for Horizontal Curves and Sight Distance; and he discussed an “Investigation of Passing-Lane Effective Length on Two-Lane Highways” at a session on Speed Effects of Highway Design Features.
Kelley Hildebrand-Hall, Laura Fay, Jaime Sullivan, Natalie Villwock-Witte, and Susan Gallagher
  • Nic Ward discussed his research on”ASafe System Approach to Reduce Wrong-Way Driving Crashes on Divided Highways by Applying Access Management and Traffic Safety Culture,” at a poster session on Network Considerations of Access Management.
  • As part of a lectern session on Paratransit, Safety, and Performance-Based Planning: Challenges and Opportunities for Small and Medium-Sized Areas, Jaime Sullivan gave a presentation entitled “On the Road to Zero, We Cannot Ignore Rural.”
  • Susan Gallagher gave presentations on two topics: transit accessibility and transportation workforce development.  She presented “Comparative Approaches to Fostering an Accessible Transportation Environment in the United States and Russia” at a lectern session on Accessible Transit Connectivity and Equity: Local to Global Approaches. She also presented “New Directions for Career Paths in the Maintenance and Operations Workforce” at the Maintenance and Operations Personnel Committee meeting. On the last day of the conference, Susan moderated a break out session during TRB Workshop 873: National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative Stakeholder Engagement: Scoping Transformative Technologies.  Susan’s work in transportation workforce development builds on the initiatives of the West Region Transportation Workforce Center, where she serves as Project Manager.
  • Natalie Villwock-Witte, David Kack, YiYi Wang, and Laura Fay
  • YiYi Wang participated in the ABJ80 Statistical Analysis Committee and judged a doctoral student research competition.

Summer Campers Set Sail with Montana Governor

Montana Governor Steve Bullock (center) with STC students at Gates of the Mountain
Montana Governor Steve Bullock (center) with STC students at Gates of the Mountain

At WTI’s annual Summer Transportation Camp (STC), student participants were treated to not one, but two special opportunities to meet and spend time with Montana Governor Steve Bullock.  During a morning tour of the Montana Department of Transportation in Helena, the Governor greeted the group and answered questions on transportation and other issues. Later that afternoon, the campers boarded a boat tour of the Gates of the Mountain canyon, and to their surprise, the “celebrity guest” captain for the day was Governor Bullock!

Each year, WTI hosts the Summer Transportation Camp, a two-week program for high school students to encourage pre-college interest in transportation careers and enhance their academic and professional development skills.  During the camp, students live on the Montana State University campus, and participate in a comprehensive academic program, field trips, a career and college counseling component, as well as team-building and sports and recreation activities.

STC student teams test the strength of the balsa wood bridges they constructed
STC student teams test the strength of the balsa wood bridges they constructed

This year, 19 students from across Montana attended the camp.  In addition to the exciting day in Helena with the Governor, other activities this year included a “CSI” themed class with a crash scene investigator from the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), a coding project with MSU Computer Science graduate students, a tour of the Gallatin Field airport, and the always popular team competition to build and test balsa wood bridges.

Read more about the Summer Transportation Camp, and WTI’s other educational programs.