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Celebrating 45 Years of the Center for Transportation Research

On November 1, 2017 the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee celebrated its 45th Anniversary at an event in Knoxville. Staff members, students, friends and associates across the State of Tennessee shared a comprehensive program led by CTR's director, Dr. David Clarke. Highlighting CTR's efforts to continue to conduct transportation research with excellence and innovation, Dr. Clarke also focused on CTR's commitment to multidisciplinary transportation research. By serving as the focal point for transportation research at the University of Tennessee, CTR brings experts from multiple engineering disciplines together with economists, planners, logisticians, environmental scientists, and other relevant specialists to provide timely information to federal, state and local governments and the private sector. Dr. Clarke was joined by two former CTR directors: Dr. Kenneth Heathington and Dr. Stephen H. Richards. Dr. Wayne Davis, Dean of UT's Tickle College of Engineering (TCE), and Dr. William Dunne, Associate Dean for Research and Facilities at TCE, acknowledged CTR's importance to the Tennessee transportation community.

Dr. Richards, who currently serves as Director of the Southeastern Transportation Center (STC), presented a historical overview of CTR accomplishments ranging from its work to support pioneering legislation requiring the use of child safety seats in Tennessee to research on multimodal transportation and highway safety.

Dr. Robert Nobles, Interim Vice Chancellor of Research and Engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, spotlighted the importance of CTR's research and partnerships. Since its formation in the early 1970s, 50+ CTR principle investigators have led approximately 650 sponsored projects. These projects brought the university more than $150,000,000 in awards from 182 unique sponsors. CTR's top sponsors are the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the US Department of Transportation, and the US Department of Energy. Additionally, he recognized that three CTR staff members, Dr. Jerry Everett, Dr. Clarke, and Dr. Richards, were among UT's largest recipients of funding.

The celebration continued with invited guest speakers that included Commissioner David Purkey from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Mr. Purkey highlighted the Tennessee Highway Patrol's successful use of Predictive Analytics software. These models have proven to be approximately 70 percent accurate in predicting crash times and locations on Tennessee roadways. These predictions have contributed to declining traffic fatalities in Tennessee and have helped produce significant reductions in THP response times. Mr. Purkey also discussed future concerns with cybersecurity for connected and automated vehicles. Deputy Commissioner Toks Omishakin of the Tennessee Department of Transportation cited CTR's research efforts on behalf of TDOT in all transportation spheres, including planning, design, operations, maintenance and economic impacts. Mr. Omishakin also pointed to TDOT's increasing emphasis on Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) as multimodal strategies to maximize the efficiency, safety, and utility of existing and planned transportation infrastructure. Finally, Ms. Leslie Meehan, Director of Primary Prevention at the Tennessee Department of Health, elaborated on her department's efforts to create livable, prosperous and healthy communities across Tennessee by focusing on the built environment and opportunities for active transportation.

Dr. Clarke concluded CTR's 45th celebration presenting the 2017-18 CTR Fellows. The CTR Fellows Program allows the department to recognize existing partners and stimulate new connections with researchers across UT's Knoxville campus. The latest group of fellows includes: Dr. Rachel Chen, Director of the Center for Sustainable Business and Development in the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment; Dr. David "Butch" Irick, Research Associate Professor in TCE's Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering; Dr. Lance Saunders, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management in the Haslam College of Business; Dr. Brad Collett, Associate Professor of Plant Sciences in the UT Institute of Agriculture; and Dr. Qing "Charles" Cao, Associate Professor in TCE's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The technical program was followed by a reception which provided attendees with an opportunity to interact with the 11 UT students presenting their research as part of a poster session.


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