The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce our newest Dissertation Fellow, Austin Drukker of the University of Arizona, who was awarded $15,000 for his doctoral research project: How Essential is Essential Air Service? A Welfare Analysis of Airport Access for Remote Communities

Mr. Drukker will study the welfare implications of Essential Air Service (EAS), a federal government program that provides subsidies to airlines that provide commercial service from remote communities. Congress established EAS after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which domestic markets to serve and which fares to charge, fearing that the newly deregulated airlines would shift their operations to serve large, profitable markets, leaving remote communities without access to the national passenger airline network and the markets and opportunities that come along with such access. By combining novel data containing information on airline passengers’ home location with cutting-edge econometric techniques, Mr. Drukker will study the value that EAS community members place on having access to their community airport as revealed by their actual choices. Mr. Drukker’s preliminary findings suggest that passengers who live in communities with subsidized service have a plethora of choices available to them and many if not...

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Christine Highfill is a PhD student and graduate research assistant in social work at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). She retired as a military spouse in 2014. She has since earned her master's in social work from UTA in 2019, and a master's of arts in human services counseling with a focus on military resilience from Liberty University in 2016. Her primary research interests are social determinants of health and military-connected spousal abuse.

Connect with Christine on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

My name is Christine Highfill. I’m a third-year social work doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington. My main research emphasis is social determinants of health across the lifespan; within that, I’m most interested in policy related to military-connected domestic abuse. Social work research is my second career. During most of my adult life I was a military spouse raising a large family during the Global War on Terror. I see my research as a way to give back to the Military and its families.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

I had not considered transportation as a research path until I began my graduate research assistantship with Dr. Noelle Fields. Although I have personally experienced latent transportation demand in the past...

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Three students from partner universities in the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) have been awarded WTS Portland scholarships. Congratulations to Caroline Crisp of Portland State, and Cynthia Roe and Caroline Schulze of Oregon Tech!

The WTS Portland Chapter, established in 1985, offers six annual scholarships to high school seniors, junior college, undergraduate, and graduate students to support women seeking leadership opportunities and pursuing transportation careers. This is a highly competitive scholarship with applicants from colleges and universities throughout Oregon and Washington.

All of the WTS Portland scholarship awardees will be honored in a formal awards ceremony via Zoom on February 10, 2022 (5 - 6 PM Pacific).

Caroline Crisp, Portland State University

2021-2022 WTS Portland Beverley Swaim Leadership Legacy Graduate Scholar

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Brendan J. Irsfeld is a second-year graduate student at the University of Oregon enrolled in the Master of Community and Regional Planning program. His primary research focus is sustainable and equitable transportation issues pertaining both to public transit systems and the wider built environment. He currently serves as co-president of UO student group LiveMove, and presented his work on social sustainability as an Eisenhower Fellow at the 2022 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). In addition to transportation, Brendan is active in disaster planning work, exploring the relationships between land-use decisions and the preparedness and resilience of communities in the event of a wildland fire.

Connect with Brendan on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

I am a New Englander that arrived in Eugene, Oregon after discovering planning during an assignment at my previous job. After deciding to make a career change to planning, I knew I was most interested in transportation issues. Currently, I study the interactions within transportation systems that manifest inequitable outcomes to better understand the impacts on quality of life from economic, ecological, and social perspectives. I also serve as Co-President for the student organization LiveMove at the University of Oregon. The group promotes active transportation...

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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 Outstanding 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. 

Connect with Kelly Rodgers on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

After a decidedly non-urban upbringing, I was delighted to find urban planning at Miami University as an undergraduate. After graduating, I moved to Oregon sight unseen—all I knew about Oregon was that there were forests and...

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Along with the Oregon Institute for Technology civil engineering faculty, we are proud to congratulate Oregon Tech students Thomas Dodgen and Caroline Schulze for earning scholarships from the Asphalt Pavement Association of Oregon (APAO) Educational Foundation. 

The scholarships were awarded on Friday, December 3 in Bend at a gala event at the APAO Annual Meeting. Oregon Tech maintains a decades-long relationship with APAO and the Oregon asphalt pavements industry - APAO was instrumental in establishing the Oregon Tech Pavement Engineering Lab in Cornett Hall. There were four scholarships awarded this year; the other winners were from Oregon State University and the University of Idaho. Several APAO members commented on the high-quality applications from Oregon Tech students and were impressed with the hands-on experiences that Tech students have in the Pavement Lab!

Thomas Dodgen, a BSCE senior graduating in June 2022, is from Adin, California. Thomas recently interned at Wildish Construction, an APAO member company, in Portland. Thomas is a licensed pilot interested in all modes of transportation!

Caroline Schulze, from Loveland, Colorado, is completing her BSCE and will begin her MSCE graduate studies in June 2022. Caroline is the immediate past president of Oregon Tech's Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter. She recently interned for GRI, a geotechnical and pavement engineering in Beaverton,...

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Jaclyn Schaefer is a graduate of the civil engineering master's program at Portland State University. A former Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellow, she is now a Transportation Engineer 2 in training at the Washington State Department of Transportation. During her time at PSU, Jaclyn worked as a graduate research assistant on various projects with Dr. Miguel Figliozzi. At the 2020 TRB Annual Meeting, she presented the results of a study examining how the presence of bicycles on roads without bicycle lanes affects passenger vehicle travel speeds. Jaclyn was awarded NITC scholarships during both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years.

Connect with Jaclyn on LinkedIn

Tell us about yourself?

I am a recent graduate from Portland State University, where I received a MS in civil and environmental engineering, and previously completed a BS in civil engineering. During my time as a graduate student at PSU, I was fortunate to work under Dr. Miguel Figliozzi conducting research on factors affecting traffic speeds and speed limit compliance on roads with a high percentage of bicycles (an ODOT research project with co-PI Avinash Unnikrishnan) and studying the spatial distribution of...

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We're proud to announce the publication of a new NITC dissertation: "Pedal the Old Pueblo: A Naturalistic Study on Bicycling in Tucson, AZ," by Joey Iuliano of the University of Arizona, Tucson.

"There are many different reasons to ride a bike – commuting, recreational riding, and athletic pursuits are a few. This dissertation work highlights the need to understand how different types of cyclists interact with the built environment and their experiences with other road users. Utilizing video cameras helps fill in this gap by capturing their lived experiences throughout the course of a ride. Coupling this footage with larger datasets, such as annual bicycle counts or Strava, can show planners where there are issues with safety and infrastructure design, how many others may be experiencing those issues, and helps with targeted improvements," Iuliano said. 

City investments in bicycle infrastructure can improve residents' health and wellness, lower pollution, fight climate change, and reduce congestion. While transportation geography and planning have long focused on looking at how vehicles, goods, and services move across a region, there is a growing body of research focused on the movement of people through a city.

Iuliano's dissertation uses both the City of Tucson and Pima County, Arizona – a region of low-density development, traditionally focused on the car and now...

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Cynthia Roe is a civil engineering student at the Oregon Institute of Technology. Originally from Weed, California, Cynthia has been attending Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls since 2017 and is on track to graduate in 2022 with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering. Cynthia is an extremely dedicated student who, in addition to her work with the ITE Student Chapter, served as the 2019-20 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers-Associated General Contractors Student Chapter and serves as a peer consultant in the Oregon Tech Student Success Center. She is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Oregon ITE Undergraduate Scholarship.

Connect with Cynthia on LinkedIn

Tell us about yourself?

Growing up in rural Northern California taught me the value of hard work and adaptability which has gotten me where I am today. I am currently a Graduate student at Oregon Tech with a passion for geotechnical and transportation engineering. I believe making connections with people and in different fields is what makes civil engineering work fulfilling...

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We're proud to announce the publication of a new NITC dissertation: "Modeling Capacity: Multiple Weaving Areas," by Sheida Khademi of the University of Texas at Arlington.

"Traffic congestion on freeway systems is one significant concern in urban areas throughout the U.S.A. In this era, building new freeways to reduce congestion is less feasible due to the high capital and social costs. Thus, the effective management and operation of existing freeway facilities has become a preferred approach to reduce traffic congestion. Using the outcomes of this research, agencies can get an idea of which effective variable they should control to manage freeways' multiple weaving areas more efficiently; obtaining the highest capacity while planning for existing freeways. The results will be presented to DOTs and MPOs. The model would be highly useful and money-saving for these agencies, as they prefer to obtain higher capacity by managing existing freeways rather than buying right of ways," Khademi said. 

Systematic, well-designed research provides the most effective approach to the solution of many problems facing highway administrators and engineers. Traffic congestion on freeway systems is one significant concern in urban areas throughout the U.S.A. In this era, building new freeways to...

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