Student of the Year
The Region One Center encourages nominations every October for its UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award, honoring the most outstanding student for his or her achievements and promise for future contributions to the transportation field. The last competition was held in October 2016.
Students of the Year are selected based on their accomplishments in such areas as technical merit and research, academic performance, professionalism and leadership. Nominations are welcomed from faculty at each of the Region One schools and must follow the current Student of the Year Guidelines.
One student from the New England University Transportation Center is named the regional winner of the Outstanding Student of the Year Award. For the 2016 competition, all of the national winners were honored at a special ceremony held during the CUTC Annual Banquet on January 7, 2017 at the 96th Annual TRB meeting. Each winner received $1000, a certificate from USDOT, two free registrations to the CUTC Banquet, and free travel expenses to Washington.
Parker Sorenson is a second year graduate student pursuing his master’s degree in Transportation and Urban Engineering at the University of Connecticut. Previously, Parker graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2015 from UConn. Within the Sustainable Cities Research Group, Parker focuses on understanding complex shared spaces and the interactions that take place between users across a wide spectrum of these spaces. He has also been honored to receive the Department of Civil Engineering Teaching Assistant of the Semester Award for Spring 2016.
Parker was awarded Teaching Assistant of the Semester in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UConn in the Spring of 2016. He was instrumental in overhauling lab materials for CAD instruction, and was solely responsible for the instruction of this material to some 60 undergraduates. Parker was awarded the 2016 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award by the New England University Transportation Center at MIT for several reasons. His cutting edge research, his academic ability, his student leadership, and his advocacy work all contributed to make him the award-winning candidate.
Cole Fitzpatrick is a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst where his work focuses on roadway safety and human factors. In 2014, Mr. Fitzpatrick was awarded, an NSF Innovation Corps grant. This led to him receiving a fellowship in 2015 from the UMass Isenberg School of Business to continue this work. He also served as the UMass Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter President during 2014-15. In addition to receiving the Outstanding Student Paper Award from the ITE Northeastern named ITE Student Chapter of the Year in the Northeastern District. Mr. Fitzpatrick’s leadership extended beyond ITE as he also served on the Graduate Student Senate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. This leadership experience led to him being selected as an Eno Fellow, and attend the Eno Future Leaders Development Conference where he had the opportunity to learn about the top transportation issues facing Capitol Hill, and meet Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Mr. Cole Fitzpatrick is awarded the 2015 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award by the New England University Transportation Center at MIT for several reasons. He combines research, academic performance, professional contributions both within and outside of academia, and leadership characteristics. His work on driver behavior spans several topics of interest to the transportation and policy communities, including the maintenance of roadways and their surrounds, driver distraction, and individual safety. His research, academic record, professional experience and student leadership in the field of transportation studies all contributed to him receiving this award.
Jing Ding-Mastera grew up in Changchun, Jilin Province, China. She attended Tianjin University, China where she earned her Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2010 and was ranked first out of 344 students in the Department of Civil Engineering. She has been a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst since 2010 and earned her M.S. in Civil Engineering in 2012. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Transportation Engineering working on her thesis entitled “Adaptive Route Choice Analysis: Algorithms, Model Specifications and Estimations with Revealed Preference Data”. She was the President of the UMass Student Chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) in 2013-2014. She has received many scholarships, including: WTS-Connecticut Helene M. Overly Scholarship, Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Graduate Fellowship, WTS-Boston Ann Hershfang Scholarship, and was selected to attend the 2014 ENO Leadership Conference.
Ms. Ding-Mastera was awarded the 2014 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award by the New England University Transportation Center at MIT for several reasons. Her work lies in a set of key questions in transportation research, focused on questions of travelers' route choice. As part of her thesis work she has developed network algorithms that may have broader implications for transportation networks more generally. Furthermore, she has distinguished herself as a student leader in the field of transportation studies, active in the Institute of Transportation Engineers and serving as president of the Women's Transportation Seminar. Her research, academic record and student leadership made her the award-winning candidate for this prestigious award.
Cara Ferrentino received her masters degree in city planning from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in June 2013. While attending MIT, Cara's coursework included urban transportation, urban design, Geographic Information Systems, local government and zoning, stormwater management, urban energy systems, and public finance. Cara was responsible for analyzing the evolution and impacts of local parking and travel demand policies for the MIT Transit Research Lab. She also evaluated city-led urban agriculture initiatives for a faculty research project that focused on pushing beyond best practices to examine what has worked and why for the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. Cara also holds a master of philosophy in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Harvard College. Cara previously worked as a summer public policy fellow in the Economic Planning and Development Department for the Massachusetts Port Authority. In this role, she analyzed the transportation, urban design, real estate, and political implications of a proposed roadway reconfiguration project on 15 acres of the South Boston Seaport area and developed recommendations for project implementation. She was one of 14 fellows selected from 100 graduate student applicants based on potential for civic leadership. From 2008 to 2010, Cara served as the Harvard Law School Sustainability Program Coordinator where she achieved a 7 percent reduction in emissions below 2006 levels from managed projects, attained an 80 percent recycling and compost rate at a 3,000-person luncheon, and developed a new university-wide Green Office checklist and certification program. These activities and distinctions make Cara uniquely qualified to receive this award.
Based on her academic merit and positive contributions to improving sustainability and reducing emissions, the New England University Transportation Center is proud to select Cara Ferrentino as its 2013 Outstanding Student of the Year.
Ms. Kelly Bertolaccini earned dual undergraduate degrees in Civil Engineering (B.S.) and English (B.A.) from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in 2010. After graduating, she entered UConn’s Transportation Engineering and Urban Planning graduate program. Ms. Bertolaccini recently defended her Master’s thesis on the equitable distribution of transit services and will continue her graduate studies as a PhD student in UConn’s transportation program. She will participate in a graduate exchange program with the University of New South Wales, Australia this spring semester.
Since entering UConn’s graduate program, Ms. Bertolaccini has explored a range of research topics related to social equity, public transportation, and economic development. In her first year, she received an Eisenhower Fellowship to compare the transportation policies and strategies of countries from around the globe and partnered with a Ghanaian colleague to assess the effects of highway design in Accra. Recently, Ms. Bertolaccini worked with the CT Department of Transportation to investigate methods for strengthening the linkage between the state’s capital investments and its long term transportation goals. Her dissertation research, funded by the Eisenhower Fellowship program, will focus on creating effective and equitable Bus Rapid Transit systems.
Ms. Bertolaccini is current serving as the president of UConn’s chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. In addition to being selected as the NEUTC and CTLS Student of the Year, she has received the ITE CT Chapter Scholarship and the Overly Memorial scholarship from the Women’s Transportation Seminar.
The quality of Ms. Bertolaccini’s scholarly work and her academic achievements and awards— as well as her leadership activities—all contributed to the basis for her selection as Region One’s awardee.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Ms. Gomez received her dual Bachelor of Science degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she majored in Civil Engineering and Psychology. Currently, she is a PhD student enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – Transportation Engineering.
Since joining UMass, Ms. Gomez has focused her work on transportation safety and human factors, examining areas such as pedestrian safety, injury outcomes from crashes, and the use of a driving simulator to research and develop methods for evaluating traffic signals and signs. In addition to her research interests, Ms. Gomez has been an active member of the UMass Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers where she is currently serving as the President and Ethics Committee member. She’s an active member of the New England Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and serves as the treasurer of the Women’s Transportation Seminar – Boston UMass Student Chapter.
She has been recognized as an Eno Fellow, NSF-AGEP Fellow, recipient of NEITE Thomas E. Desjardins Memorial Scholarship and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Best Research Presentation Award, among others.
Ms. Gomez’s academic excellence, her numerous awards and her participation in several professional organizations all contributed to the basis for her selection as Region One’s awardee.
Lisa recently graduated from MIT with joint Master’s degrees in City Planning and Transportation. While at MIT, through partnerships with universities in Portugal, she conducted research on metropolitan governance issues and on urban form in Portuguese cities. She has recently worked with the EMBARQ Center for Sustainable Transport in Mumbai, India, where she studied the impact of India’s urban travel trends on carbon emissions. Prior to returning to school, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mandeville, Jamaica, where she worked with an NGO to create the region’s first sustainable development plan. She recently returned to Mandeville with a fellowship from MIT’s Public Service Center to lead a community-based urban design workshop. Lisa received a bachelor’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan, where she also became an active promoter of urban bicycling. Today, Lisa is primarily interested in understanding the role of transportation in the city, and hopes to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries in this aim.
Lisa’s academic excellence, her work on the MIT Portugal project, her outreach work and her ability to be part of a team to accomplish a goal all contributed to the basis for her selection as Region One’s awardee.
A lifelong student of transportation systems, Travis Dunn has applied his formal education in civil and transportation engineering to a variety of research and professional pursuits. His areas of interest include infrastructure system management, technology deployment, and strategy development. As a PhD candidate at MIT, his research focuses on the design and evaluation of alternative frameworks for surface transportation policy and investment decision-making in the country of Portugal. In addition, he has assisted in the teaching of several undergraduate and graduate courses in transportation systems.
Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, Mr. Dunn worked as a consultant providing technical and policy support to a variety of transportation clients in the areas of asset management, technology evaluation, and road pricing.
The choices Mr. Dunn has made in spending two years with Booz, Allen and Hamilton and his international experience both serve to broaden the perspective he brings to bear on strategic transportation issues and contributed to the basis for his selection as Region One’s awardee.
Heather is a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – Transportation Engineering. She received a BS from Smith College where she majored in sociology and minored in public policy and an MSCE from UMass Amherst in Civil Engineering – Transportation.
Since joining UMass, Heather has focused her work on transportation safety and transportation policy examining areas such as teen driver policy, older driver safety, injury outcomes from crashes, and commercial vehicle safety. In addition to her research interests, Heather has been an active member of the UMass Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, including one term as its President. She serves as the secretary of the TRB Committee on Women’s Issues in Transportation and is an active member of the Women’s Transportation Seminar – Boston Chapter. She has been recognized as an Eno Fellow, recipient of the WTS Boston Ann Hershfang Scholarship, and the NEITE Stantec Student Paper Award.
Heather’s superior academic achievement, the significant results of her research work, and her involvement in numerous activities contributed to the basis for her selection as Region One’s awardee. Also, her background in sociology and public policy provides the type of background that is needed today in the transportation enterprise.
Megan is a Masters student at MIT, pursuing degrees in Transportation and
Operations Research, and will graduate in June 2008. She also received a
B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from MIT in 2004. Prior to returning to MIT,
Megan worked as a management consultant at McKinsey and Company, serving
a variety of aerospace and transportation clients.
While at MIT, Megan’s main research activities have been in the areas of air
transportation and airport infrastructure. Her primary research focuses on
air navigation user fees. She is working with the FAA and North Atlantic
Economic Finance Group in exploring the harmonization of fee structures in
the North Atlantic airspace. She has also conducted research on airline
revenue management for a consortium of airlines and performed a study of
aviation infrastructure costs in the United States.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Megan competes in triathlons, plays
soccer, and enjoys traveling. Megan has also served as the President of the
MIT chapters of both the Society of Women Engineers and the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The depth and breadth of Megan’s research activities and her professional
experience all contributed to the basis for her selection. Clearly, Megan has
demonstrated clear promise of future leadership and contribution to the
transportation profession. She will be a most welcome addition to the
Dr. Ralph Hall, who this year earned his Ph.D. in sustainable transportation from MIT’s
Technology, Management, and Policy Program, has been named the New England University Transportation Center Outstanding Student of the Year. Like past recipients of the award, Hall is being honored for his recent achievements and in anticipation of his future contributions to the transportation field. Hall and the winners from other regions will receive their awards in January in Washington, D.C., during the Transpor-tation Research Board’s annual meeting. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize.
Hall, who received a master’s degree from MIT in 2002 and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Southampton University in England in 1999, previously garnered the Student Excellence and Leadership Award and the Best Thesis Award from MIT’s Technology, Management, and Policy Program. While at MIT, Hall worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), briefing staff members on the concept of
sustainable transportation. Hall recently relocated to California, where he has begun a two-year post-doctorate study at Stanford University, focusing on applied research in sustainable water and sanitation services in developing countries. In addition, Hall will co-teach a course titled “Sustainability in Theory and Practice” to undergraduate and graduate engineering students.
A native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Andrew Desautels is currently pursuing a
Master’s degree in transportation at the Massachusetts institute of Technology,
where he is researching innovative bus dispatching strategies that could be used to
improve intermodal transfer connectivity in large transit networks. Andrew was a
2004 recipient of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship, and is currently
the teaching assistant for MIT’s Transportation Flow Systems subject. Immediately prior to attending MIT, Andrew earned a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Arizona, where he served as President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter and as Design Captain of the Concrete Canoe Team for the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter. During his time at the University of Arizona, Andrew received a number of transportation-related honors, including the 2003 Arizona Society of Civil Engineers Scholarship and the 2003 Southern Arizona Transportation Council Engineering Scholarship, and hosted weekly talk shows
“The Sports Nerds” and “Talkin’ Baseball” on KAMP Radio.
As a complement to his academic pursuits, Andrew has held internships with a wide
variety of transportation firms, including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation
Authority, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, and MMLA, Inc. Andrew is a
registered Engineer-In-Training in the State of Arizona.
Andrew was selected based upon a competitive process that included all eligible
students who received financial support from the New England University
Transportation Center. The awards Andrew received coupled with his undergraduate
and graduate grade point performance contributed to his selection as our
winner. Also, his already substantial experience in the public and private sectors
coupled with his leadership skills as exemplified in many of his affiliations with
transportation organizations show a clear promise of future leadership and
contribution to the field of transportation.
James Barrett Sorensen is pursuing a Master of Science in Transportation degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is a member of MIT Transit Research Program — a collaborative research effort between MIT, local universities and the public sector. His research focus is on development of a drive-access transit model for the Boston Metropolitan region. The model is being applied toward development of policy recommendations concerning park-and-ride, kiss-and-ride, and bus-access-to-transit facilities. James spent the past summer with IBI Group as a transportation intern, participating in such projects as the development of the Southeast, Central and Western Massachusetts’ Regional ITS Architectures and the Long Range Transportation Plan for Chemung County, New York.
James graduated with honors from the University of California – Davis with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. His interest in transportation was shaped by internships with the City of Davis, California and Y&C Transportation Consultants, a Sacramento-based consulting firm. His work for The City of Davis included a wide range of traffic studies and community transportation issues. His consulting internship included work on intersection and corridor analyses, transportation facilities construction, and light-rail transit station modification. James’ other interests include travel, cinema, athletics, and spending time with his lovely wife Amelia.
James was selected based upon a competitive process that included all eligible students who received financial support from the New England University Transportation Center. His excellent academic record, his intern experience and the clear promise of future leadership and contribution to the transportation profession provided the basis for his selection.
Jeffrey Busby is pursuing a Master of Science in Transportation degree
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is a member of
the Tren Urbano, San Juan, P.R., Chicago Transit Authority and
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority project group — a
collaborative research effort between MIT, local universities and the public
sector. His research focus is on development of a transit network model of
the CTA. The model is being applied toward development of an accessibilitybased
planning and decision-support tool integrating census travel
information and agency data. Jeff spent the past summer as an intern in the
Strategic Planning Division of the CTA, gaining first-hand knowledge of
current agency planning practices.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, Civil Specialty from
the Colorado School of Mines in Golden near his hometown of Westminster,
Colorado. His interest in urban transportation was shaped by a part-time job
for a suburban Denver municipality he held while pursuing his undergraduate
degree. His work for Commerce City, Colorado included a wide range of
municipal engineering applications including building permit and land
development review, right-of-way construction, inspection and capital
improvement project management. His interests were peaked by his
experience with traffic calming, traffic engineering, a 25-year US-85
Corridor Plan, and a New Lands Transportation Plan for a twenty-fivesquare-mile
region of rapidly developing suburbs. Jeff’s other interests
include travel, architecture, wine tasting, movies, and history.
Jeff was selected based upon a competitive process that included all eligible
students who received financial support from the New England University
Transportation Center. His continuing research excellence, his excellent
academic record, his professional experience, his demonstrated technical
merit and clear promise of future leadership and contribution to the
transportation profession provided the basis for his selection.
Nathaniel Grier is an Associate with the transportation planning and
engineering firm Martin/Alexiou/Bryson of Raleigh, NC. He holds a masters
degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where his research,
under the supervision of Professor Ismail Chabini, was in the area of dynamic
traffic assignment. His work focused on the development of new solution
approaches to the time-dependent shortest paths and the dynamic network
loading problems. He also holds a bachelors degree in civil engineering from
Mr. Grier began his work in transportation as a sophomore, working as a
summer intern for the City of Springfield, Oregon. Over this and the
following summer he had the opportunity to participate in a range of
transportation projects, from car-counting to design work. These
experiences led to increased interest in the field of transportation and the
pursuit of an undergraduate research position his senior year, focusing on
the development and testing of enhanced shortest-path algorithms. Upon
entering the MIT masters program he joined Professor Chabini’s Advanced
Computing in Transportation Systems (ACTS) research group and took on a
key role coordinating the group’s activities. During this time he also assisted
in the teaching of courses on carrier systems and network algorithms.
Before receiving his masters, he was admitted to MIT’s doctoral program
and is currently on-leave while he works at Martin/Alexiou/Bryson. His work
there includes transportation planning and modeling.
Sarah Bush is a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's Center for Transportation Studies
and the MIT AgeLab. Her dissertation research, supervised by Dr. Joseph F.
Coughlin and Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva, addresses the incorporation of
cohort effects into models of older adult travel demand. Her work,
sponsored both by the USDOT University Transportation Center Program
and The Hartford Financial Services Group, promises to provide an
innovative approach to understanding the role of lifestyle and cohort on the
future mobility and safety needs of older people. Specifically, Ms. Bush’s
research promises to provide both a useful methodology and data to
forecast the scope and transportation policy implications of an aging society.
The New England University Transportation Center is pleased to recognize
Sarah Bush with the Student of the Year Award for her continuing research
excellence and contribution to the role of demographics and lifestyle on the
strategic management of transportation systems as well as her excellent
academic record, her professional experience, her demonstrated technical
merit and clear promise of future leadership and contribution to the
transportation profession. She has authored, presented and published her
work in both transportation and aging policy forums and journals. Ms. Bush
holds a BS from Brigham Young University and a MS degree from MIT, both
in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Jennifer Farver is a doctoral candidate at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology’s Center for Transportation Studies. There she works in the
Algorithms and Computation in Transportation Group under the supervision
of Professor Ismail Chabini. Her Master’s thesis is in the area of dynamic
traffic assignment with an emphasis on analytical, continuous-time dynamic
network loading and dynamic shortest paths algorithms for a particular class
of input functions. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of
California, Berkeley in Civil Engineering.
Ms. Farver began her career in transportation as a co-op student at De
Leuw, Cather and Company in San Francisco where she worked on the cost
estimation, construction staging and stormwater pollution prevention aspects
of the Carquinez Bridge Seismic Upgrade project. After completing her
undergraduate work, she spent a summer as a research assistant at UC
Berkeley’s Pavement Research Center, working on the long-life pavement
research study under the supervision of Professor John Harvey. During her
first year at MIT, she worked with Douglas Lee at the Volpe National
Transportation Systems Center on cost/benefit analysis of deployed
Intelligent Transportation Systems projects.
Ms. Farver holds an MIT Presidential Fellowship and has received several
awards from the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of
Civil Engineers. Throughout her academic career, she has taken on
leadership roles in student government, faculty committees, and professional
groups. Based upon her excellent academic record, professional experience,
demonstrated technical merit and clear promise of future leadership and
contribution to the transportation profession, Ms. Farver was selected as
the New England University Transportation Center’s Outstanding Student of
1992: Lucy Jen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1993: Zhi Liu, Harvard University
1994: John Wilson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1995: John Bowman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1996: Lisa Klein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1997: James Chang, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
1998: Jon Bottom, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1999: Joan Walker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology