Numerous Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers and students were recognized during the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 97th Annual Meeting January 7–11, in Washington, D.C. This year’s gathering of transportation professionals from around the globe included more than 5,000 presentations in nearly 800 sessions and workshops.
TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull was officially appointed chair of the TRB Executive Committee and spoke during a TRB luncheon Jan. 10. Turnbull has been extremely active in TRB committees, conferences and projects for the last three decades. She served as vice chair of the executive committee last year.
Best Paper Awards
Following a study by TTI, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will soon issue an interim approval that removes the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requirement for a human flagger at work zones that also use pilot vehicles and portable traffic signals.
The paper written about the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) research project won a 2017 TRB Best Paper Award, received by TTI Research Engineers Melisa Finley and LuAnn Theiss at the annual meeting. The paper, “Field Evaluation of Pilot Vehicles and Portable Traffic Control Signals With and Without a Flagger,” originated in the TRB Work Zone Traffic Control Technical Committee.
“The TxDOT project determined that there were no increases in motorist violations at work zones that had both portable traffic signals and pilot vehicles, but without a flagger,” Finley explains. “The research was part of TxDOT’s Traffic Control Device Evaluation Program.”
The TRB Design and Construction Group honored TTI Research Engineer Amy Epps Martin and her co-authors with its 2017 Practice-Ready Paper Award. This award recognizes nearly 20 years of chip seal research by TTI on TxDOT-sponsored projects that developed and validated the surface performance-graded (SPG) specification for chip seal binders that is now available as a TxDOT Special Provision (SP300-011).
The paper, “Evolution of the Surface Performance-Graded Specification for Chip Seal Binders,” was co-authored by Epps Martin, TTI Associate Research Engineer Edith Arambula-Mercado, Shi Chang and Swathi Mayi Theeda.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for a significant research thread that spans my entire career,” Epps Martin says.
A paper from TTI’s Environment and Air Quality Division examining truck driver exposure to in-cabin diesel emissions was selected as the TRB Air Quality Committee’s best paper, and was chosen for a special presentation during the TRB Annual Meeting.
“Effectiveness of Idle Reduction Technologies in Reducing Driver Exposure to Diesel Emissions” was coauthored by Institute Senior Research Engineer Joe Zietsman, Research Specialist Jeremy Johnson, Assistant Research Engineer Tara Ramani and Associate Research Engineer Reza Farzaneh. The paper presents the results of their study, which examined the effectiveness of idle reduction technologies (IRTs)—auxiliary power units—in reducing driver exposure.
The study determined that the use of IRTs resulted in a significant reduction in driver exposure to diesel emissions during long duration idle events. The researchers also found that IRTs are cost-effective compared to keeping trucks idling during lengthy rest periods.
Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship
Two TTI employees pursuing transportation-related graduate degrees have received a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship: Charles Gurganus and Greg Griffin.
Gurganus is an associate research engineer in the Institute’s Pavement and Materials Division and a Ph.D. candidate in Texas A&M University’s Department of Civil Engineering. His research interests include pavement management and the use of non-destructive techniques for infrastructure assessment. Gurganus has received four consecutive Eisenhower Fellowships while pursuing his doctorate.
Griffin is an assistant research scientist in TTI’s Planning and Engagement Program and pursuing his Ph.D. in community and regional planning at The University of Texas at Austin. Griffin’s research interests include the use of crowdsourcing for bicycle-related transportation planning.
The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship grant program is administered through FHWA and is designed to “attract the brightest minds to the field of transportation, enhance the careers of transportation professionals and to retain top talent in the transportation industry.”
Safe-D University Transportation Center Student of the Year
Maryam Shirinzad, a Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University, was selected as the Safe-D University Transportation Center Student of the Year. Shirinzad received the award at the Council of University Transportation Centers Award Banquet in Washington, D.C., during the TRB annual meeting.
“Maryam is the epitome of professionalism,” says TTI Senior Research Scientist Sue Chrysler, associate director of Safe-D. “She takes on the responsibility of reporting on the research conducted by the center, and she has certainly proven herself as responsible in project management roles. It’s great to have her as a part of the Safe-D team.”
Shirinzad works under Senior Research Engineer Karen Dixon, manager of TTI’s Roadway Safety Program. It was Dixon who nominated Shirinzad for the award. Shrinzad was selected over the other students nominated from Virginia Tech and San Diego State University.
Christiansen Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
TTI Director Emeritus Dennis Christiansen was honored with the HNTB Lifetime Achievement for University Transportation Education and Research Award during the annual Council of University Transportation Centers (UTC) Award Banquet Jan. 6. The banquet was held in conjunction with the annual meeting.
Christiansen, who was TTI director for 10 years until his retirement in 2016, was selected for the award based on his significant contributions to transportation research and education.