Dr. Eleni Christofa was named the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies Outstanding Young Member Award for her exceptional service to the Transportation Research Board and achievements in the transportation profession. The TRB Outstanding Young Member Award, which was established in 2012, recognizes a distinguished younger member of a TRB standing committee who has demonstrated exceptional service to TRB and achievements in transportation research, policy, or practice. The award, which is administered by the Young Members Council, may be presented annually to a TRB volunteer who is 35 years of age or younger on April 15 in the year of the award. Nominations for this award are solicited broadly from the community. The award consists of a plaque and a $2,500 cash award supported by Stantec, Inc.
The award committee particularly noted Dr. Christofa’s clear passion and commitment to the Transportation Research Board and its mission, including her contributions to multiple standing committees and subcommittees. Her work ethic, professionalism, and mentorship of students and young professionals were applauded. Dr. Christofa personally accepted the award at the 2017 Annual Meeting of TRB in Washington, D.C., during the Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lecture and presentation of awards.
Dr. Christofa has been a TRB affiliate since 2010 and has been attending the TRB Annual Meetings since 2007. She is actively involved with the AHB25 TRB Standing Committee on Traffic Signal Systems (TSS), of which she has been a member since 2013. Since then, she has served as the committee’s Paper Review Coordinator for the TRB Annual Meetings and Transportation Research Record handling more than 100 papers each year and achieving review response rates of up to 96%. In addition to chairing the paper review process, she has served as the presiding officer for multiple sessions during the TRB Annual Meetings, has participated in the development of NCHRP research and NCHRP synthesis statements, and in the dialogue for the creation of an educational subcommittee. She is also a member of the Task Force on Arterials and Public Health and a friend of the committee on Traffic Flow Theory and Characteristics, the committee on Highway Capacity and Quality of Service, and the subcommittee on Pedestrian and Bicycle University Education (a joint subcommittee of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committees).
Dr. Christofa has been an active member of the transportation profession for more than 10 years. Her research focuses on the development of sustainable management strategies for urban multimodal transportation systems with the use of innovative technologies. In addition to developing real-time signal control systems that improve person mobility and air quality, she is working on assessing the impact of alternative geometric designs (e.g., roundabouts and continuous flow intersections) on emissions and safety, and of bicycle infrastructure treatments on driver behavior and bicycle safety. Her work can inform policy decisions on infrastructure placement and signal control to achieve more efficient and safe operations and improve air quality. Her research on person-based signal control is widely cited and recognized worldwide. She has more than 40 refereed journal articles and conference publications and a vibrant research group consisting of 3 PhD and 2 MSc students that have received multiple awards for their research. Her research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), the U.S. Department of Transportation through the New England University Transportation Center (UTC) and the SAFEty Research through SIMulation (SAFER-SIM) University Transportation Center, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Dr. Christofa has taught Transportation (undergraduate introductory course), Public Transportation (undergraduate/graduate), and Traffic Flow Theory and Simulation (senior/graduate). She also developed and introduced a senior/graduate course on Transportation Sustainability to the curriculum. Her commitment to exceptional teaching is evident through the awards she has received to improve her courses and teaching including: the Student-Centered Teaching & Learning (SCTL) Fellowship, the Open Education Initiative Grant, the Sustainability Curriculum Initiative Grant from UMass Amherst, as well as the ASCE ExCEEd Fellowship.
In addition, Dr. Christofa has participated in multiple outreach efforts including co-organizing the 2016 UMass Amherst Summer Transportation Institute, a 4-week program funded by the Federal Highway Administration to encourage high school students to pursue careers in transportation, lecturing in the Summer Engineering Institute at UMass Amherst (2013 and 2014), and participating in mentorship activities with the UMass Women in Transportation Seminar student group and the Graduate Women in STEM (GWIS) UMass student group.