TTI’s Katie Turnbull Named Texas A&M Regents Fellow
TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull was honored with the Regents Fellow Service Award during The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Reception and Dinner Feb. 10. The Regents Fellow Service Award Program began in 1998 to recognize research professionals whose exemplary professional service has contributed to large and lasting benefits to Texas and beyond.
Turnbull’s vast professional accomplishments, combined with her unique blend of management skills and volunteer efforts, made her TTI’s top candidate for the award, according to TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen.
“She has brought professionalism, prestige and mission-critical research to TTI and has more than 40 years of service to the transportation industry,” Christiansen wrote in nominating Turnbull. “Her many contributions have resulted in significant improvements to the transportation system — both statewide and nationally.”
Turnbull began her TTI career in 1989 and became nationally recognized in the areas of high-occupancy vehicle and high-occupancy toll facilities, public transportation, travel demand management, and intelligent transportation systems. She manages TTI’s Planning and Environment Research Group, which includes 100 researchers, support staff and students located in seven TTI offices in Texas, Washington, D.C., and Mexico City. Turnbull has also held leadership positions with the Transportation Research Board, the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Public Transit Association.
While Turnbull’s career has focused on mobility enhancement, she has also helped develop the next generation of transportation professionals. She has authored or coauthored more than 200 publications and is the recipient of numerous achievement awards that recognize her leadership and tireless service to the transportation industry.
“Joining the list of TTI researchers who have received the Regents Fellow Service Award is a real honor,” states Turnbull. “I have had the opportunity to work on numerous research projects that have resulted in improvements to transit services and the transportation system, benefiting the traveling public.”
Villa Heads TTI Team for New Center of Excellence
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate created its Centers of Excellence to develop multidisciplinary, customer-driven, homeland security science and technology solutions and help train the next generation of homeland security experts.
TTI is participating in the Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research (CBTIR), coordinated by the University of Houston. CBTIR’s goal is to develop technology-based tools, techniques and educational programs for border management, immigration, trade facilitation, and targeting and enforcement of transnational borders. TTI’s team is led by Research Scientist and Regional Manager for Latin America Juan Villa and includes Director of External Initiatives Melissa Tooley and Associate Research Engineer Rajat Rajbhandari. The team aims to develop an enhanced border wait-time-measuring system at land ports of entry.
“As technologies become more pervasive and more functional, there is a need to enhance the systems developed by TTI to take advantage of emerging technologies such as connected vehicles, WiFi and GPS,” explains Villa, whose research team will create a concept of operations that lays the foundation necessary to design an enhanced wait-time system.
TTI Awarded Major FHWA Safety Contract
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety (HSA) has selected TTI for a major multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract for research aimed at improving transportation safety related to everything from highway design to bicycle/pedestrian safety and speed management.
“TTI is leading a team with 10 subcontractors,” says TTI Senior Research Engineer Paul Carlson, who’s leading the project. Carlson, head of TTI’s Traffic Operations and Roadway Safety Division, is recognized as one of the nation’s premier researchers in visibility safety. For example, he was one of five national experts invited to address FHWA’s 2014 workshop on transportation visibility held at the FHWA Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia.
“We’ve leveraged our national reputation in the transportation safety arena to provide FHWA with innovative ideas and solutions to enhance transportation safety,” adds TTI Senior Research Engineer Karen Dixon, co-principal investigator on the project with Carlson.
TTI was the only university-led team awarded a contract. TTI’s team includes faculty members from Texas A&M University’s Dwight Look College of Engineering and extensive training expertise from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. The team will collaborate and assist HSA with policy and regulatory analysis, technical studies, guidebooks and training support, as well as outreach and marketing support.
“This significant contract is another example of how The Texas A&M University System coordinates across the university and its agencies to take a leading role on issues facing not only Texas but the entire nation,” notes A&M System Chancellor John Sharp.
TTI Agency Director Dennis L. Christiansen agrees, adding, “Our safety researchers are eager to begin the life-saving projects that will be awarded during the length of this contract. Their expertise in transportation safety is well known throughout the country, and their role as team leaders on this national contract is well deserved.”
Yu Elected to Chair Special Libraries Association’s Transportation Division
TTI Research Librarian Hong Yu was recently elected as chair-elect-elect for the Special Libraries Association’s (SLA’s) Transportation Division. Yu will serve in that capacity in 2016, which also includes being conference program chair for the 2017 annual conference. SLA is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. It has more than 7,000 members in 75 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists.
“This is an honor, an opportunity, and also holds a lot of challenges,” says Yu. “I am very grateful for all the support I have received. I will do my best to serve the division and the entire transportation community.”
Polunsky Receives Straub Award
TTI Research Scientist Steven Polunsky has received the Curtis H. ‘Butch’ Straub Achievement Award, given to one student in each Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) class. Developed in 2002, the class assists “current and future leaders in homeland defense and security to develop the policies, strategies, programs and organizational elements needed to defeat terrorism in the United States.” Polunsky received the award, which is based on grades, a thesis and classroom leadership, during a ceremony Dec. 18 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
“I’ve always had an interest in emergency response and homeland security, especially in how they relate to transportation,” Polunsky says. “Our transportation facilities are critical infrastructures. There are numerous facets to this problem, and we need to identify and address vulnerabilities.”