ITS-Davis Students: A Year In Review

As 2013 comes to a close, we here at ITS-Davis take a look back at our students’ accomplishments and applaud them in anticipation of more to come.

Outstanding Dissertation and Thesis Awards

This year, a committee of faculty members selected Kristin Lovejoy as the recipient of the 2012-2013 Outstanding Dissertation award for “Mobility Fulfillment Among Low-car Households: Implications for Reducing Auto Dependence in the United States.”

Lovejoy, who received her Ph.D. in Transportation Technology and Policy in 2012 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis, was awarded for her creative application of quantitative and qualitative data to understand how transportation choices are being fulfilled in low-car households.

The committee, which included professors Susan Handy, Dan Sperling and Pat Mokhtarian, commended Lovejoy for her ability to address a gap in current research and in developing “benchmarks for mobility that permit new understanding of whether or not mobility demands are met in low-car households and for particular subpopulations and communities where being car-less is more of a problem.”

ITS-Davis also presented its annual Outstanding Master’s Thesis award to Susan Pike for “Understanding Factors Associated with Commute Behavior Changes: An Empirical Investigation from Northern California.” Pike’s thesis explored changes to drive-alone commuting in response to the temporary closing of a one-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in downtown Sacramento in the summer of 2008.

The Outstanding Thesis committee, comprised of professors Joan Ogden, John Harvey and Stephen Wheeler, selected Pike’s thesis for being the first of its kind.

“Her careful analysis produced a number of valuable insights into the effects of the ‘Fix I-5 project’ and offered a rare glimpse into the persistence of changes in travel behavior made in the wake of a major freeway reconstruction project,” said the committee. Pike is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Transportation Technology and Policy.

A three-person committee of ITS-Davis faculty judges the thesis and dissertation entries on their originality, significance of findings, rigor and logic, completeness, quality and clarity. Winners receive a $1,500 award from the Friends of ITS-Davis fund.

Other Awards and Accolades

Alex Karner has been awarded a two-year postdoctoral research associate fellowship starting in January 2014 through the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

Geoff Morrison now teachers a transportation planning class as an ajdunct assistant professor of urban planning at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Morrison received 2nd place in the 32nd USAEE Case Competition in March 2013, and was named the Sustainable Transportation Center (STC)  Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year in September 2012.

Christina Zapata placed first in a graduate student research poster competition with her poster entitled “Estimating Pollutant Emissions and Concentration Changes from Transportation Modes and Associated Upstream Sources Subject to Climate Legislation, Alternative Fuel and Technology Penetration and Air Quality Regulation”. Zapata also received a certificate of exemplary contribution to the UC Davis NextSTEPS Research Program in May 2013.

Brigitte Driller presented her research on bicycle commuting in June 2013 at the Bicycle Urbanism Symposium in Seattle, Wash. and also received the Helene M. Overly Scholarship from WTS-Sacramento (Women in Transportation) in December 2012.

Colin Murphy was awarded a 2013-2014 California Council on Science & Technology Policy Fellowship and co-authored a publication titled “Life Cycle Inventory Development for Corn and Stover Production Systems Under Different Allocation Methods”.

Jeff Kessler earned first place in the 2012 USAEE Student Case Competition and second place in the subsequent year. Kessler also received the National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellowship Award to teach sixth-graders in Sacramento schools about renewable energy.

Natalie Popovich is now the secretary of the board of directors of Davis Bicycles! and was recently chosen to serve as an active transportation program specialist to start on a bicycle friendly business program for the City of Davis. From February to June 2013, Popovich was the policy intern for the California Bicycle Coalition, where she conducted research and lobbying.

Maria Brun was hired by Minnesota 2020, a non-partisan think tank in St. Paul as a graduate fellow. Brun will be writing energy and transportation articles and policy briefs, which will include snippets of her research projects.

Alvaro Rodriguez traveled to Bogotá, Columbia in February 2013 for research and to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2013 World Conference in Transportation Research in where he presented three of his papers.