ITS-Davis Director Dan Sperling Appointed 2015 Chair of Prestigious Transportation Research Board

Dan Sperling, director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis), has been appointed the 2015 chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee, which provides independent scientific advice to the nation on transportation issues.

The appointment was announced at the 94th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, held January 11-15 in Washington, D.C. and attended by 12,000 transportation professionals from across the United States and abroad. The Transportation Research Board is a major division of the National Research Council, the private, nonprofit institution that serves as the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering and as an independent adviser to the U.S. government.

“The Institute of Transportation Studies is a global leader in sustainable transportation, and this appointment is a testament to Dan’s standing as a researcher and innovator in his field,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “I am sure that Dan’s leadership of the Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee will serve as a tremendous boon for innovation in transportation across the country.”

Professional business portrait of the CA Air Resources Board in Sacramento, CAThe executive committee Sperling will chair for the coming year oversees the board’s programs and activities, engaging more than 7,000 engineers, scientists, and transportation researchers and practitioners from academia and the private and public sectors, including state departments of transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through objective research.

“The Transportation Research Board is hugely influential as the focal point of transportation research activities in the United States and the world,” said Sperling. “I am honored to lead it and look forward to helping broaden its engagement with environmental and other sustainability issues.”

One of the world’s most renowned transportation experts, Sperling founded ITS-Davis in 1991 and has led it to international prominence—building strong partnerships with industry, government and the environmental community, and connecting research with public policy and outreach.

In 2013, ITS-Davis was selected in a national competition to lead the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, a two-year, $11.2 million research, education and outreach consortium of six universities for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Located in UC Davis’ West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero-net-energy community, the Institute of Transportation Studies has more than 150 faculty, staff, and student researchers. The affiliated UC Davis Transportation Technology and Policy Graduate Program offers interdisciplinary master’s and doctoral degrees in sustainable transportation, with more than 225 of its alumni currently serving as leaders in government and industry.

Sperling is a professor of civil engineering, and environmental science and policy at UC Davis.  He is recognized as a leading international expert on transportation technology assessment, energy and environmental aspects of transportation, and transportation policy.

In the course of Sperling’s distinguished career, he has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress and multiple state legislatures, and has authored or co-authored more than 200 technical papers and 12 books, including “Two Billion Cars” (Oxford University Press, 2009) — which earned him an appearance on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.  In 2013, he received the Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation, described as the Nobel Prize for environmental sciences. He has served as a board member of the California Air Resources Board since 2007, where his chief responsibilities are implementation oversight of the state’s climate change, alternative fuels, vehicle travel and land use, and zero emission vehicle programs.


At the 94th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Sperling also delivered the TRB 2015 Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lecture, “The Emerging Transformation of Mobility, Vehicles, and Fuels.”