NITC Student of the Year Award (Council of University Transportation Centers)


The Student of the Year award is presented during the Council of University Transportation Centers banquet at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January. For the past 15 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation has honored an outstanding graduate student from each UTC at this special ceremony. Each student receives a certificate from USDOT and $1,000 plus the cost of attendance from his or her center. Criteria for this award include technical merit and research accomplishments, academic performance, professionalism and leadership.

2023 - Justin Delgado, University of Utah (LinkedIn)

Justin Delgado is a master’s student in the City and Metropolitan Planning Department at the University of Utah. He has been selected as the 2023 NITC Student of the Year and will be presented with the award at the Council of University Transportation Centers banquet at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January 2023. Justin’s interest in transportation began through his negative personal experiences as a pedestrian and cyclist. His recognition of the inequitable distribution of safe infrastructure between mobility types led him to advocate for the right to travel safely for all types of mobility. Justin currently works as a dual Graduate Assistant for the Physical Enterprise Planning and Development Office (formerly PDC) and the Active Transportation branch of the Sustainability Office at the University of Utah. Justin also actively serves as president of the Urbanists at the University of Utah, Utah’s only nationally recognized planning student group.

2022 - Sadie Mae Palmatier, University of Oregon (LinkedIn)

Sadie Mae is a graduate student at the University Oregon’s College of Design studying for a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning. At UO, she has worked with Urbanism Next and the Institute for Policy, Research, and Engagement on new mobility and parking management projects. She is currently a Project Manager with the Institute for Policy, Research, and Engagement and leading an update to Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Her research focuses on the impacts of minimum parking requirements on housing development which is supported by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program. As the Transportation Planning Intern with WSPs Portland office, Sadie Mae has worked on the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program and helped draft and submit the Oregon Toll Program’s Low-Income Toll Report to the Oregon State Legislature. This report provides guidance to the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Transportation Commission on creating an equitable toll program for all Oregonians. Prior to going back to school, Sadie Mae worked in clean energy finance in the San Francisco Bay Area and in recreation/transportation planning in Boulder County Colorado.  She holds a BA from Bates College.

2021 - Kelly Rodgers, Portland State University (LinkedIn)

Kelly Rodgers is a Portland State University PhD student in Urban Studies who is studying the use and influence of health indicators in transportation plans. In 2021, Kelly was named the NITC Student of the Year. Kelly has been awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship three times and twice named a NITC Student Scholar. Kelly is also the Executive Director of Streetsmart, a non-profit research synthesis and resource clearinghouse for integrating health, climate, and equity into transportation. Kelly is the vice-chair of the Institute of Transportation Engineers' Health and Transportation Standing Committee, a member of the Transportation Research Board's Transportation and Public Health Committee, and is an advisory board member of the American Public Health Association's Center for Climate, Health, and Equity. As a member of the Planning for Health Equity, Advocacy, and Leadership (PHEAL) advisory committee, she is promoting the adoption of health equity principles to guide community planning work. In 2021, Kelly co-authored the article, the 2019 Conference on Health and Active Transportation: Research Needs and Opportunities, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In the 2022 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, she was a lead organizer of the workshop: Do you count if you’re not counted? An exploration of systematic bias in our crash data systems, impacts on vulnerable road users, and implications for research and practice.

2020 - Gabby Abou-Zeid, Portland State University (LinkedIn)

Gabby Abou-Zeid holds a B.S. in Sustainable Built Environments from the University of Arizona and is currently a second-year Civil Engineering MSc student with transportation emphasis at PSU. Working in Dr. Kelly Clifton’s Sustainable Urban Planning and Engineering Research Lab (SUPERLab), her interdisciplinary research examines multimodal travel behavior, urban freight, and intersections between transportation and land use. In 2018, she participated in TREC's Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship (TURF), where she worked on a Caltrans-sponsored project for improving transportation impact analyses at affordable housing developments. Her current research is focused on adoption of, attitudes toward, and barriers to using online delivery platforms for household food shopping in response to COVID-19. She is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program’s Top Ranked Masters Fellow for 2019/2020, a 2020 Eno Center for Transportation Future Leaders Development Conference Fellow, and a cat person. Read a February 2020 interview with Gabby

2019 - Samuel Jensen, University of Arizona (LinkedIn)

Samuel Jensen is a planning masters student at the University of Arizona. He has been selected as the 2019 NITC Student of the Year, and was presented with the award at the Council of University Transportation Centers banquet at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January 2020. He presented research on "An Inventory of Bus Stop Amenities Guidelines at U.S. Transit Agencies" at TRB, in the Bus Transit Research and Practices poster session. Samuel's interest in transportation developed through his work as an advocate for transit justice. He also serves as the president of Graduate Planning Society, UA's planning student group, and as vice-chair of the city of Tucson's Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Read an interview with Samuel Jensen here.

2018 - Travis Glick, Portland State University (LinkedIn)

Travis Glick is a PhD student, graduate teaching and research assistant in civil & environmental engineering at Portland State University. He served for two years as president of Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP), Portland State University's transportation student group. Travis is a 2018 NITC student scholar and two-time Eisenhower fellow, and was named NITC's Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) student of the year at the 2019 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

At TRB 2019, Travis presented research from three papers. The first presentation examines the benefits of non-linear regression models to predict bus dwell at bus stops. These models improve the robustness of predictions against outliers and produce better estimations given inconsistent data. The second presentation examines the interaction effects of buses using the same stop even when those buses are from different routes. The proposed models account for both common and uncommon interactions and improve predictions for how long buses dwell at bus stops. These models can be applied within transit agency to improve prediction methods. The third presentation shows research using video and radar data that examines the interaction effects of passenger vehicles, buses, and bicycles at a heavily used multi-modal intersection in Portland. Results indicate significant delays are caused by bicycle and right-turning traffic and identify potentially dangerous interactions between cyclists and buses.

Individually, the above research efforts provide practice-ready solutions that may be applied by transportation and research agencies to improve existing models and infrastructure. In aggregate, they provide a foundation for understanding overlapping routes, transfer points, and multi-modal interactions as foundational components of network-level models, which is the subject of Travis's doctoral thesis.

2017 - Jordan Preston, Oregon Institute of Technology (LinkedIn)

Jordan Preston, co-terminal BS/MS candidate in civil engineering at Oregon Tech has been involved with NITC since she arrived on campus, and is now in her third year in an executive role in the NITC-funded Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter. She has since been hired on as a Research Assistant on two NITC projects:

  • Instructional Modules for Obtaining Vehicle Dynamics Data with Smartphone Sensors
    Working with NITC research Roger Lindgren, Jordan is developing a series of learning modules for students to gather vehicle operating dynamics data with their smartphones and other sensors to apply in roadway design. The goal? Offer an engaging and interactive way to learn about vehicle response data in an introductory junior-level course. 

  • Rethinking Streets for Bikes
    More recently, Jordan has been hired on to support Dr. Marc Schlossberg, NITC researcher at University of Oregon, and Lindgren on an exciting multi-campus project: the second volume of a visual, evidence-based book on street retrofits. This time, the focus is bicycle-oriented.

Building upon her NITC experience, her graduate project is an alternatives analysis for a complete streets redesign of a key, car-centric corridor connecting the Oregon Tech campus to the downtown business district. This evaluation will incorporate design principles from a summer bicycle transportation course in Europe that was led by Dr. Schlossberg in 2017.

Outside of the world of academia – over the last six years, Jordan has been spending her summers as a Transportation Intern at the WA Department of Transportation. Her work with the WSDOT has taken her through three offices including design, construction, and program management. With her rigorous academic plan, she aims to graduate in Spring of 2018.

2016 - Tara Goddard, Portland State University

Tara Goddard, a doctoral candidate in the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, is the 2016 NITC university transportation center student of the year. She was recognized at the Council of University Transportation Centers 2017 Annual Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C., where she also attended the Transportation Research Board annual meeting. Goddard’s dissertation research explores drivers’ attitudes and behaviors toward bicyclists. This reflects her broader interest in the intersectionality between transportation and the social sciences, and how professionals in both disciplines can work together to improve upon public spaces and the ways that people interact within them.

Goddard has worked as associate transportation planner with the city of Sacramento and as the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the city of Davis, California, which enjoys the highest levels of transportation cycling of any city in the United States. She has a Master in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Davis. Her other research interests include planning for sustainable and just cities, improving roadway safety and reducing conflicts. Of particular interest are the relationships betweens transportation and social psychology and their influence on differential experiences and safety, especially for women and people of color. In her spare time, Goddard likes to hike, kayak, travel, and spend time with her family, friends, and dogs Baxter and Smoky.

2015 - Patrick Singleton, Portland State University

Patrick Singleton, Portland State University. Patrick is a Ph.D. candidate in the school of Civil & Environmental Engineering and a graduate research assistant at Portland State University. He was selected as a 2014 Eno fellow, and attended the Eno Leadership Development Conference in the spring of 2015. He was also one of four civil and environmental engineering students from PSU to be awarded the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship in 2014, and at the 2014 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, he was selected as TRB’s top-ranked Eisenhower Fellow.

Patrick studies active travel behavior and travel demand. His master's thesis examined the complex decision-making processes surrounding walking and bicycling, and recommended how best to model active travel choices. He earned his B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and his doctoral research at PSU examines the complex decision-making processes surrounding walking and bicycling and explores how best to model active travel choices.

Together with his advisor, Dr. Kelly Clifton, Singleton has contributed to two NITC research projects on methods of forecasting pedestrian demand: Development of a Pedestrian Demand Estimation Tool and Better Representation of the Pedestrian Environment in Travel Demand Models.

2014 - Sirisha Kothuri, Portland State University

Sirisha Kothuri, Portland State University. A former OTREC scholar and NITC dissertation fellow, Kothuri devoted her doctoral research to optimizing transportation infrastructure for pedestrians. Her dissertation, "Incorporating Pedestrian Considerations into Signal Timing," focuses on ways to minimize the wait time at traffic signals experienced by people on foot. 

Kothuri is a research associate in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University. She is a recipient of the 2012 David Evans Scholarship, the Solutions Generator Award from PSU's Institute for Sustainable Solutions, an Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship from the United States Department of Transportation, and a Maseeh Fellowship from the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU. She has also received an Outstanding Research Assistant award from PSU's department of civil and environmental engineering, and scholarships from both ITS Oregon and the WTS Portland Chapter.

Her primary research interests are in the areas of multimodal traffic operations, traffic signal timing and bicycle and pedestrian data collection. Dr. Kothuri is the research co-chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Subcommittee (ABJ 35(3)). She received her BCE from Osmania University, India, MSCE with a transportation emphasis from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge and Ph.D. with a transportation emphasis from Portland State University in 2014.

2013 - Katherine Bell, Portland State University

Katherine Bell, Portland State University. Katherine Bell is a licensed professional engineer who worked at a consulting firm and for the Oregon Department of Transportation before starting graduate work at Portland State University. Her interests include freight planning, modeling and performance measures; transportation emissions; and sustainable transporation systems.

Bell has served as an officer with Students in Transportation Engineering Planning (STEP), the student transportation group at Portland State, and been active with the Portland chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar. Bell has worked on OTREC research projects with Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State's civil and environmental engineering department and presented her work at forums including the TRB annual meeting and the Western District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers annual conference.

2012 - Kristina Currans, Portland State University

Kristina Currans, Portland State University. Kristina Currans is a graduate student at Portland State University whose work focuses on the relationship between land use and travel behavior, with a particular interest in multimodal transportation. After graduating from Oregon State University with a civil engineering bachelor’s degree in 2010, Currans soon made a name for herself in transportation circles.

She started her graduate coursework at Portland State and worked during academic breaks with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Transportation Planning Analysis Unit, home to state and regional transportation models. There, she worked with the Statewide Integrated Model, SWIM2, and the GreenSTEP transportation emissions model.

Currans works as a part of OTREC’s Oregon Modeling Collaborative and on several OTREC research projects. Her work on trip generation has attracted national attention. Currans was the 2012 outstanding student inductee to the Denice Dee Denton Women Engineers Hall of Fame.

2011 - Cortney Mild, University of Oregon

Cortney Mild, University of Oregon. At the time of the award, Mild was in her first year at the University of  Oregon’s Master of Community and Regional Planning program. She led LiveMove’s monthly speaker series. In her second year, she served as the group’s president. She has distinguished herself in the classroom and beyond. 

In 2011, she participated in a UO Study Abroad course in Amsterdam and then completed an internship with a Dutch consulting firm that specializes in bicycle and pedestrian facility design. Mild’s thesis research is examining the mechanisms by which international study tours influence domestic practice in the area of bicycle and pedestrian planning.

Mild graduated from  the University of Utah with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Ballet, and performed as a professional dancer before choosing planning and the UO for graduate school.

2010 - Alex Bigazzi, Portland State University

Alex Bigazzi, Portland State University.  At the time of the award, Eisenhower Fellow Alex Bigazzi was in his second year of the Master of Science program in civil  engineering at Portland State.

He holds bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering, from Portland State, and music, from the University of Miami. He has had four journal articles accepted for publication, two as lead author.

He has made 12 presentations at transportation conferences, including presentations in Sweden and Portugal. Bigazzi had an internship at Delft University of  Technology in The Netherlands which resulted in a journal article and three conference papers with international coauthors from academia and the private  sector.

In 2009, he received a Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship and  a National Science Foundation research fellowship. His primary interests are  motor-vehicle emissions and human exposure to traffic-related air pollution, and he is currently involved in several research projects on these topics.

Alex has shown leadership in organizing student activities, including a biweekly  discussion meeting among transportation students at Portland State he organized in 2009. He has been active with the Portland State chapter of  Engineers Without Borders and took a service trip to Nicaragua.

2009 - Nathan McNeil, Portland State University

Nathan McNeil, Portland State University. At the time of the award, Nathan was in his second year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at PSU. He holds a Bachelor of Art in History from Columbia University.

Nathan worked with professors Jennifer Dill and Christopher Monsere to evaluate Portland’s "Bike Boxes.”

He was the recipient of the 2008-2009 Rex Burkholder and Lydia Rich Scholarship, awarded through the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at PSU. In 2008, he won an award for best poster at the Region X Student Conference.

Nathan is examining how bicycling can be incorporated into the application of walkable “20-minute” neighborhoods. He has formulated a strategy for regional planning government Metro to incorporate climate change concerns into planning activities and surveyed Portland stakeholders on how PSU can serve the region in the area of sustainability.

While living in New York, Nathan worked for a community economic development nonprofit, worked in social policy research, and served as a performance auditor for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Office of the Inspector General.

2008 - Christo Brehm, University of Oregon

Christo Brehm, University of Oregon. At the time of the award, Christo was pursuing a concurrent graduate degree in community and regional planning and landscape architecture.

He holds an undergraduate degree in planning, public policy and management and has spent many years working in the field of affordable housing. While a student at the University of Oregon, Christo designed one of the nation’s first assessment tools of the emerging Complete Streets concept.

He has traveled across the country leading community assessment workshops using this tool, which works in a mobile GIS environment. Christo co-authored a paper for the 2009 TRB national conference and has presented his work at the national Pro Bike/Pro Walk conference. Leaders of two Oregon state agencies asked him to share his work with smaller Oregon communities.

Christo was a founding member and director of a campus-wide, interdisciplinary transportation and livability student group at the U of O called LiveMove. During this time, he worked with OTREC associate director Mark Schlossberg and has been an exceptional student researcher and leader.

2007 - Oren Eshel, Portland State University

Oren Eshel, Portland State University. After receiving a B.A. in geography from the University of California at Berkeley, Oren managed the Systems Engineering group at the San Francisco International Airport, where he worked on information technology planning in support of airport infrastructure projects. Oren embarked upon graduate study to focus on public transit, equity in provision of transit services, and regional planning. His interest in regional planning techniques drew him to Portland, OR where, at the time of the award, he was a Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduate student at Portland State University. Oren was a research assistant in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Lab at PSU. He was working on a project to evaluate an adaptive ramp metering system in the Portland region. Oren was also an intern with the City of Portland's Transportation Planning section. Oren was nominated by faculty for this award not only because he excels at research and in the classroom, but because he has made a significant mark on the multidisciplinary transportation program at PSU. Oren was president of the PSU transportation student group and ITE chapter (STEP) and coordinated the Fall 2007 Transportation Northwest District 10 Student Conference. Over 70 students from across the region attended. Oren volunteers with community outreach and events that encourage bicycling and walking. He is an avid bicyclist and enjoys traveling and spending time in the outdoors with his wife Allison.

2006 - Max Coffman, Portland State University

Max Coffman, Portland State University. At the time of the award, Max was a master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University, and was described by faculty as an excellent student who contributed to class and had a top GPA, while also being an active member of the ITS Lab, organizing events and mentoring other students. Max presented "Enhancing Targeted Traffic Enforcement Efforts in Portland, Oregon" at the Institute of Transportation Engineers District 6 Annual Meeting in June 2006, attended a Rail-volution conference in Chicago in November 2006, developed a paper for the ITS World Congress, and is presented a paper entitled, "State of ITS: Telling Intelligent Transportation Systems Success Story for Portland, Oregon (Session 384) at the 86th Annual Meeting of TRB.

Max is from Houston, Texas, where he sat in more traffic than he cares to remember. As an undergraduate in Washington, DC, he grew accustomed to being within walking distance of cultural, shopping, entertainment and community resources, and would like to never go back to an automobile-dependent life. At Georgetown, Max majored in Science, Technology and International Affairs, with an environmental focus, and found that his research paper topics showed a strong trend towards sustainable transportation issues. He studied transport planning at the University of Melbourne in Australia for a semester in 2004, where he started a love affair with trams and continued to walk whenever possible. Max interned as a policy analyst at the Portland Office of Transportation and worked as a Transportation Staff Associate for Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams. After graduation, Max was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and found work at the Federal Highway Administration's Budget Office in Washington, D.C.