TTI’s Tooley and Other Top Women Executives Share Inclusion Strategies
Melissa Tooley, TTI director of external initiatives, joined three other top female transportation industry executives on Sept. 23 on a panel made up of American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA’s) Women Leader Awards winners, which included the Institute. TTI was awarded ARTBA’s Glass Hammer Award in 2011 for its promotion of women leaders within TTI and more generally in the transportation industry. The award is given “to at least one company in the transportation construction industry that has innovative programs and activities directed at successfully promoting women leaders within their organization.”
The panel occurred as part of ARTBA’s 2019 National Convention in Savannah, Ga., and addressed how to create, nurture and grow a diverse work environment. As Tooley, quoted in Washington Newsline, stated, “What is important to diversity issues is important to everyone. It’s not just diversity; it’s a work climate issue.” As noted in the article, there are still more men than women in transportation, which emphasizes the need to continue and enhance diversity efforts across the industry.
“I never had female peers until I went to TTI,” Tooley said (quoted in Washington Newsline).
Air Pollution Key Contributor of New Childhood Asthma Cases in Europe
A study co-led by TTI Associate Research Scientist Haneen Khreis finds that up to 11 percent of new childhood asthma cases could be prevented each year if European countries complied with current World Health Organization air quality guidelines. Overall, 33 percent of new asthma cases in the 18 European countries studied can be attributed to air pollution levels.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, and air pollution increases the risk of developing the disease. The new study estimates the burden of new childhood asthma amongst 63.4 million children and focused on three key pollutants: PM2.5 (33 percent), nitrogen dioxide (23 percent) and black carbon (15 percent).
“Our findings reinforce the case that air pollution is contributing substantially to the burden of pediatric asthma,” Khreis notes. “This new analysis is a call for urgent action. These impacts are preventable. We can and should do something about it.”
The 18 European countries studied are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Countries from Eastern Europe were not included due to the lack of air pollution exposure data in the region.
TTI’s Lomax Testifies Before the U.S. House
TTI Research Fellow Tim Lomax testified before the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Sept. 11. The subject of the hearing was traffic congestion and potential solutions to improve mobility. Lomax discussed the newly released Urban Mobility Report, which includes congestion estimates and the implications for urban transportation.
Lomax outlined the big-picture questions of addressing congestion, including what to do, what that would cost, how to pay for it, what the benefits are to do something, and what the negatives are for doing nothing. As an example, he compared the costs of maintaining the 2010 condition of Texas roads and highways ($273,000,000 over the next 25 years) with the economic impact associated with doing nothing ($989,000,000).
“It’s clear that doing nothing is not free,” Lomax told Congress. “Congestion problems will continue to challenge metropolitan regions of all sizes. This is not just a big-city problem.”
Perez Wins ATSIP Award for Data Visualization
TTI Assistant Research Scientist Marcie Perez won first place in the data visualization category for “investigating crash data through data visualization” at the 2019 Traffic Records Forum. The forum, held Aug. 4–7, was hosted by the Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP). Perez led the Aug. 6 session Data Visualization: Investigating Crash Data Through Data Visualization.
ATSIP members are professionals from government, law enforcement, the private sector and university research centers. The association seeks to make traffic records more consistent, accessible and integrated for use in implementing and evaluating safety programs and policies. ATSIP’s data visualization award recognizes projects that raise decision-maker awareness about data visualization, provide resources to transportation safety organizations, and inform policy-making legislation.
TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety uses Microsoft Power BI, a data visualization software, to examine crash data. In her Aug. 6 session, Perez highlighted the most common ways attendees can leverage the software to fit their needs. Her work includes crash data analysis, database management, and form and survey development. She also provides technical support to TTI researchers working with Texas crash data.
“I received very positive feedback on the visualizations I shared within TTI, and I was happy to receive the award for my session because it helps me to see that my work is helpful to others,” says Perez.
TTI Graduate Students Receive APTF Scholarships
Two TTI graduate students received scholarships in the amount of $6,500 each from the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) at the recent American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA’s) TRANSform Conference held Oct. 13–16 in New York. APTA is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public- and private-sector member organizations. An affiliate of APTA, the foundation provides scholarships for transit scholars.
Jinuk Hwang, now an assistant transportation researcher with the Institute, received the APTF Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary Scholarship, awarded to an undergraduate or graduate student who works to enhance accessible public transportation. At TTI, Hwang conducts GIS and spatial analysis research, performs data collection and review, and prepares technical documentation for the Institute’s Transit Mobility Program.
Ahmadreza Mahmoudzadeh was awarded the Gary Thomas Ambassadorial Scholarship, which is given to college students or transit professionals pursuing or advancing a career in the public transit industry. Also part of TTI’s Transit Mobility Program, Mahmoudzadeh’s research involves modeling, geospatial analysis, programming, Big Data analysis, visualization, transit scheduling and technical document preparation.
“Both Jinuk and Ahmadreza are deserving recipients for these scholarships, as well as excellent examples of how TTI is helping train the next generation of transit professionals,” states TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull, who also serves on Hwang’s Ph.D. dissertation committee. “Their contributions to transit research are just beginning, and as a member of APTA, the Institute was pleased to sponsor their scholarship applications.”
Wunderlich Receives Burton W. Marsh Award
TTI Center for Transportation Safety Director Robert Wunderlich received the prestigious Burton W. Marsh Award at the 2019 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Annual International Meeting in Austin, Texas, July 21–24. The Marsh Award is presented to an ITE member who’s made outstanding contributions to the organization’s advancement over the years.
In his acceptance speech, Wunderlich praised friends, colleagues and mentors who helped him along the way: “I think about the incredible colleagues I have shared my career with, collaborated with, and depended on. No person achieves much by themselves, and I have been blessed with an array of competent and caring people to work with everywhere I’ve been. And through it all, there is the one person who made it all possible, my wife, Fran. This is an award to many, not to one, because I could not have done much without them.”
Wunderlich encouraged everyone to do more to improve safety — from integrating safety analyses into all aspects of transportation studies and projects to thinking outside the box of accepted practices. He also urged the audience to give back to the profession in whatever manner befits the individual.
“When we take the time to make others in our profession better, it enriches us as individuals,” Wunderlich said. “Small acts add up over time into large paybacks, for you and for us as your colleagues.”
TTI Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant
TTI has received a $250,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to evaluate safety and health concerns related to implementing connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies. RWJF is the largest philanthropic organization in the United States dedicated solely to health, and the potential impact of adopting CAVs has yet to be studied in depth. The grant is part of a larger $2.4 million initiative exploring the interrelationships among technology, infrastructure and health. The project also includes graduate student funding from TTI’s Safety through Disruption University Transportation Center.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented and increasingly rapid technological development, where technologies are designed, developed and implemented without full consideration for their influence on human life, health and equity,” explains Paul Tarini, RWJF senior program officer. “This project at TTI will help cities develop a better understanding of how CAVs will impact the health of their residents.”
Researchers will conduct a literature review, collect and analyze data, develop a data visualization tool, and ultimately provide recommendations regarding the impact of new technologies on public health.
“There is great uncertainty associated with the health and equity implications of CAVs,” says TTI Associate Transportation Researcher Bahar Dadashova. “We’ve put together an interdisciplinary team to quantify the health impacts of CAVs along two key pathways: highway safety and traffic-related air pollution.”