Ben Sharpe’s UC Davis Doctoral Degree Leads to Research Career in International Transportation

For Ben Sharpe—Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering, UC Davis, 2013—the focus is global.

As a senior researcher for the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), Sharpe and his team actively study the impacts of heavy-duty vehicles for the governments of countries around the world, in particular: China, Brazil, Mexico, the European Union, the United States, and, most recently, India. With offices in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Berlin, the widely respected, independent, non-profit ICCT provides “first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators.”

Ben Sharpe

Although Sharpe has been a senior researcher for only three years, his tenure at the ICCT spans more than six; he started his involvement with the council while still pursuing his Civil Engineering doctorate with a transportation focus at ITS-Davis. Not surprisingly, Sharpe credits a lot of his success in the position with the knowledge and connections he made through his UC Davis transportation graduate program. “My first contact with ICCT was back in 2007. I was super lucky to work with [ITS-Davis Researcher and Energy Efficiency Center Associate Director] Alan Meier. He was with the International Energy Agency for a number of years and knew that I had a strong interest in heavy-duty vehicle efficiency: As part of his class we had done some work looking at tractor-trailer operations in the U.S. Well, IEA was doing a workshop in Paris in 2007 to look at regulation of heavy-duty vehicle efficiency, and Alan was instrumental in getting me some funding and a formal invitation to attend that workshop.”

Now a few years into his career, Sharpe is currently tackling issues involving heavy-duty vehicle efficiency in a number of different countries and regions. Recently, Sharpe and his team authored numerous papers answering technical questions for regulatory design in India and also held a workshop in Delhi in April to foster discussions. His team offers policy and technical recommendations to governments around the world who have various levels of experience in traversing through contemporary transportation issues.

“The current mode that we are in is following need,” he said. “And one of the biggest needs right now in terms of fuel efficiency regulatory development for heavy-duty vehicle is in India.”

Sharpe now lives in Sacramento with his family, commuting to his office in San Francisco via the train a few times a week. As he reflects back, Sharpe notes the lasting impacts of his time at ITS-Davis.

“I really could not have asked for better training for the field I am in now. The research at ITS-Davis is extremely aligned with what we do here at the ICCT,” he said. “In terms of the coursework, getting all the exposure to analytical tools, models, and technical jargon—my experience at ITS was terrific. I could not have envisioned a better segue to the ICCT.”

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