ITS-Davis Fall 2023 News

It goes without saying that the greatest thing about ITS-Davis is the people. In this issue we focus on them–new arrivals, new retirees, awards, achievements, promotions, and more. Plus we cover the usual items: recent events, publications, and outreach–all of which would not be possible without this team. We thank you for your continued interest in ITS-Davis.

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Final Celebration of the 2023 Environmental Justice Leaders

October 5-6, 2023

The Environmental Justice Leaders Program brings working environmental justice leaders into dialogue with UC Davis researchers for 10 months of co-learning. On each afternoon of this celebratory event—one in Davis, one in Sacramento—the Leaders will present progress, results, and next steps in their environmental justice efforts. Register here to attend. Register here.

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ITS-Davis Board of Advisors

October 17–18, 2023

More info here..

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3 Revolutions Future Mobility Research Workshop

October 23–24, 2023

More info here

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STEPS+ Fall Symposium

December 6–7, 2023

More info here.

Asilomar 2023

July 11-14, 2023

Asilomar audience from balcony

This past summer, we were delighted to host the 19th Biennial Conference on Transportation and Climate Policy at the lovely Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California. A key take-away from the conference was that the focus among those working in transportation research, policy, and practice has shifted from. The goal is no longer persuading people of the need for decarbonization, now the focus is on determining how to carry-out decarbonization in a just and equitable way with community involvement.

The sessions covered: low-carbon policies and initiatives around the globe; just and sustainable mining of materials for EVs; progress and challenges for government, utilities, and vehicle manufacturers in the transition to EVs; innovative programs that support mobility that does not rely on car ownership; decarbonizing the challenging sectors of aircraft, ships, and legacy road vehicles; and charging and hydrogen infrastructure for trucks. The conference also featured a display of the Amazon Delivery E-Truck and ride-and-drives of new zero-emission vehicles: the Rivian R1S, BMW iX5, Toyota Mirai, and Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-e.

India Centre Delegates Visit and Meeting

January 8-12, 2023

India Delegates Visit

As part of the US-India Exchange Visit on Clean Energy Transitions, a delegation of senior government officials from India representing 14 states across the country visited California. The India ZEV Research Centre hosted the delegation jointly with the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board. The California State Agencies presented various aspects of energy, transport, and climate policy, with specific interest in renewables, energy storage, grid integration, long-term energy planning, and clean transportation. ITS Davis presented their research on the Low Carbon Fuels Standard and hydrogen. Dan Sperling and Kelly Kissock gave overviews of ITS and the Energy Efficiency Institute. 

EcoCAR EV Challenge

EcoCar Challenge

UC Davis took delivery of the Cadillac Lyric that will be the competition vehicle for the remaining three years of the EcoCAR EV Challenge. Year one, which focused on modeling, and simulations, is behind us. The UC Davis EcoCAR team is excited to start the hands-on portion of the project. Pictured here are some of the students who worked with the EcoCAR team over the summer, their four advisors, and Dean Corsi from the College of Engineering. The facility is the new Engineering Student Design Center. 

Mobility Quest (MobQuest)

September 19-22, 2023

Each year, the incoming class of graduate students in our Transportation Technology & Policy (TTP) program participate in Mobility Quest (MobQuest). The event features visits to transportation-related sites, with the aim of introducing the students to one another, members of the ITS-Davis community, and important transportation trends and topics. This year’s MobQuest traveled to the San Francisco Cable Car Museum, Oakland Aviation Museum, Port of Oakland, and Sacramento Railroad Museum. The students also met with representatives from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG).

awards and achievements


Susan Handy

Susan Handy - Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lectureship at TRB and a Forthcoming Book

In recognition “for her contributions to the advancement of knowledge on travel behavior, as well as to the practice of transportation planning and education,” Susan Handy has been awarded the prestigious Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lectureship by the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

Handy is a professor of Environmental Science and Policy, the director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, and chair of the Transportation Technology and Policy (TTP) Graduate Program. Her research focuses on relationships between transportation and land use—particularly the impact of land use on travel behavior—and on strategies for reducing automobile dependence.

As stated in a press release from TRB, “The Deen Lectureship recognizes the career contributions and achievements of an individual in one of the areas covered by TRB’s Technical Activities Division... Honorees are invited to present overviews of their technical area of expertise.” Handy will deliver her lecture, “Shifting Gears: Reflections on the Role of Researchers in Shaping the Ideas that Shape Transportation,” on Monday, January 8, 2024, at the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Handy has also written a new book entitled Shifting Gears: Toward a New Way of Thinking About Transportation. In it she provides a detailed history of the ideas embedded in American transportation policy and the emergence of new ways of thinking that could give us better transportation options. The book is due out on October 31 and available for pre-order from MIT Press.

Giovanni Circella

Sperling and Circella Named Co-Secretary Generals of the World Conference on Transport Research Society

Dan Sperling and Giovanni Circella were selected to be Co-Secretary Generals for the World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS). Working in collaboration with WCTRS President Tae Hoon Oum, they will lead the growth and management of the organization during this 10-year appointment. 

Graduate Students

Maria Cardenas
Juan Restrepo

Summer 2023 Miguel Velez Fellowships

Maria Valencia Cardenas and Juan C. Lopez each received Summer 2023 Miguel Velez Fellowships. The Miguel Velez Fellowship is awarded to students on the basis of character, ability, with financial need. Preference is given first to students with citizenship/residency in Colombia, then to students from other Latin American countries.

Jean Ji
Justin Flynn TTP Grad Student

Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship

Jean Ji and Justin Flynn each received a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship.

National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) Outstanding Student of the Year

Meg Slattery NCST Outstanding STudent of the Year

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) awarded the 2022 UTC Outstanding Student of the Year honor to Margaret “Meg” Slattery, a PhD candidate in the Energy Graduate Group at UC Davis. Her dissertation is focusing on battery reuse and recycling and lithium extraction in the Salton Sea. She has directly informed policy through her work with the California EPA's Lithium-ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group. The NCST featured Slattery in a student spotlight earlier this year.

UC Davis 2023 Dissertation Grant Awardees

The grants to the following recipients were awarded by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) University Transportation Center (UTC) and the Pacific Southwest Region UTC.

Patrick Cunningham

Patrick Cunningham

Summer Iogansen

Xiatian "Summer" Iogansen

Jean Ji

Jean Ji

Hanif Tayarani

Hanif Tayarani

Undergraduate Research Fellows

Congratulations to our thirteen UC Davis Summer 2023 Undergraduate Research Fellow awardees on another successful program year! The National Center for Sustainable Transportation fellowship program provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work closely with UC Davis faculty, professional researchers, and graduate students on research projects related to environmentally sustainable transportation. Our 2023 awardees just concluded their fellowship with presentations and reports on the research they’ve contributed to. See their contributions here.

NCST Fellowship
Comings and Goings
Yongsung Lee

Yongsung Lee

Yongsung Lee joined ITS-Davis in July as a research faculty and co-director of the 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program. Lee brings to the position transportation planning skills and research expertise in travel behavior, the adoption of emerging transportation solutions, modeling and quantitative analyses, GIS, and spatial analysis.

Lee received his PhD in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech and most recently held an assistant professor position at the University of Hong Kong.

2022 Gil Tal

Gil Tal

In June, Gil Tal was awarded a position as adjunct associate professor with the Environmental Science and Policy Department. Tal came to ITS-Davis in 2013 as the research director of the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Center (now Electric Vehicle Research Center).

He became the director of the Center in 2018. He also has been a great mentor to students and contributor to the ITS-Davis community, serving as graduate and admissions advisor for the TTP Program and leading innumerable research projects.

Some comments from the external peer reviews included, “Dr. Tal is without a doubt one of the most productive and insightful researchers working on the social science/economic aspects of alternative fuels and electric vehicles, of any academic rank anywhere in the world” and “…he is a profound and highly motivating teacher and mentor.”.

Alan Jenn

Alan Jenn

Alan Jenn, who has been with ITS-Davis since 2015 as a postdoc and then research faculty member, was awarded a tenure track faculty position in Civil and Environmental Engineering in June of this year. In the recruitment process, many students provided comments. They say, “He is one of the best instructors I have ever had” and “…his dedication to his students is truly unmatched…Dr. Jenn is not only a

wonderful mentor but also understands the challenges that graduate students face in balancing personal obligations and academic pursuits.” We look forward to Jenn playing an even larger leadership role in ITS for years to come, as a mentor, instructor, and lead researcher in addressing the challenges and opportunities in connecting EVs with the electrical grid. Jenn also brings valuable experience from recent work as a senior advisor with the US Department of Transportation in Washington, DC.

Andy Burke

Andrew Burke

Andrew Burke is moving to Seattle to live near his family and will continue to actively collaborate with researchers at UC Davis. He joined ITS-Davis in July, 1994. Burke has performed research on and taught graduate courses on advanced electric driveline technologies specializing on batteries, ultracapacitors, fuel cells, and hybrid vehicle design, control and simulation. Read more about him here.

Marshall Miller

Marshall Miller

Marshall Miller has recently retired. He received his PhD in physics from the University of Pennsylvania and, after a postdoc at the University of Chicago, he came to ITS-Davis in 1993. His work focuses on advanced technologies and fuels to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions in the transportation sector.

He has worked with transit agencies, utilities, regulatory agencies, industry, and non-profits to understand the implications of specific vehicle and fuel technologies including fuel cells, batteries, hydrogen, and biofuels. Miller will continue his research on a part-time basis with the STEPS+ Sustainable Freight and Energy Futures Research programs.

Annemarie Schaaf

Annemarie Schaaf

Annemarie Schaaf, featured below in “In The Spotlight,” is retiring after 17 years at ITS-Davis..

Theodora Konstantinou

Theodora Konstantinou

Theodora Konstantinou, a recent postdoctoral fellow at the Electric Vehicle (EV) Research Center, accepted a position at ICF consulting firm. She has studied the used vehicle market and its implications for EVs, equity concerns regarding the impact of incentives on EV adoption, and EV adoption in rural areas. At ICF she will lead projects related to transportation decarbonization, EV fleets, and charging infrastructure. 

Tri Dev Acharya

Tri Dev Acharya

UC Davis STEPS+ postdoctoral researcher Tri Dev Acharya has accepted a position as a Hydrogen Infrastructure Analyst at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). He will focus on identifying and resolving barriers to zero-emission vehicle sales due to a lack of access to hydrogen fueling options. 

Junia Compostella

Junia Compostella

Junia Compostella, who worked with the 3RFM team as a postdoc upon completion of her PhD, has recently started a research position at Nissan’s Alliance Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley.

Jai Malik

Jai Malik 

Jai Malik, a recent TTP PhD graduate, was selected to join the World Bank Group through their Young Professional Program. Jai has moved to Washington DC for this position and his first appointment will be with the transport unit focusing on South Asia.

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Annemarie Schaaf

Annemarie Schaaf

After serving for 17 years as the coordinator for the Transportation Technology and Policy (TTP) Graduate Program, and 6 years for the Energy Graduate Group, Annemarie Schaaf is retiring. She will be sorely missed by students, staff, and faculty.

In this position, she has advised hundreds of applicants, students, staff, and faculty on program requirements, curriculum planning, and policies.

And she has counseled students as they navigated the academic and personal challenges of graduate school. As one current graduate student said,“She always goes above and beyond to help us sort out our class schedules, student employment appointments, and all other scary grad school logistical hurdles. She has been a pillar of support to the student body and will be incredibly missed when she leaves.”

Describing her approach to her work, Schaaf said, “I like to get to know each student and see what works for them—what is their personality? do they need to meet regularly and be reminded of deadlines, or are they more independent?”

This approach is well-suited to the culture at ITS-Davis and the TTP program. Schaaf said, “Not many people in positions like mine stay long. I’ve stayed because of the people—there is a camaraderie, a collaboration. Faculty and staff tend to ask ‘How can I help?’ Plus Susan [Susan Handy, Director of the TTP Program] and Dan [Dan Sperling, Director of ITS-Davis] are awesome. They reply to my emails no matter where they are in the world.”

Handy described Schaaf’s tremendous contribution, saying, “Annemarie has been an outstanding caretaker of the TTP program. Her efforts to provide support and foster a sense of community among our far-flung students during the pandemic were truly exceptional and in no small part a reason for the high level of enthusiasm among our current cohort of students. She is the heart and soul of TTP.”

Schaaf’s general advice to past, present, and future students is, “Seek your dreams and do it. Figure out what you want to do, ask a lot of questions, explore and then re-explore.”

Upon retiring, she looks forward to spending more time with her husband, walking, skiing, and being outdoors. Or, as Schaaf puts it, “Saying ‘yes’ to more adventures and being present.”

Annemarie, we thank you for all your years of thoughtful, caring, and meticulous work, and we wish you well on this next phase of life.

Featured Publications

Energy Sources & Public Health

Life cycle greenhouse gas intensity for hydrogen production pathways

This literature review identifies factors that affect life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from generating hydrogen fuel. For example, the steam methane reforming pathway has high emissions, but so do electrolysis methods if they use carbon-intensive grid electricity.

Factors That Promote Co-adoption of Solar Panels and Electric Vehicles

Consumers who adopt EVs are more likely to simultaneously adopt residential solar panels if they live in a single-family rather than multi-unit home, have home access to a level 2 charger, more household members, higher incomes, older residents, and more than one EV.

Public Health Costs of California Truck Transportation

Costs to the public health system from freight hauling range from $58 to $2,066 per truck/year. These costs are affected by long- vs. short-haul, truck age, trip distances, fuel types, home base location, and gross vehicle weight. They could be reduced through zoning and/or more flexible vehicle replacement financial incentives. 

Fuel-Cell & Electric Vehicles

Avoiding a shortfall in future US and Europe combined electric vehicle production

The combined annual EV production projected in the US and Europe by 2030 will be lower than what is needed to reach EV sales goals set by current policies. This projected shortfall could be reduced with strategic planning, additional funding, and increased openness to trade.

Cost Calculator to Promote Electric Vehicles among Gig Drivers 

An online vehicle cost calculator has been designed to help transportation network company drivers who are considering acquiring an electric vehicle. The calculator estimates total cost of ownership, revealing the lower lifetime costs for EVs. [related Policy Brief]

Public Transit & New Mobility

Transportation and Neighborhood Priorities of Californians with Disabilities

Transportation and Neighborhood Priorities of Californians with Disabilities

Focus group participants with various disabilities from rural and urban parts of the state uniformly wanted denser mixed-use developments to reduce the immediate burdens in transportation that they disproportionately face.

Easier Transit Travel with Standardized Payments 

This study explores interest in, and challenges faced by, transit agencies and operators in the adoption of open-loop payment systems.

Factors Influencing the E-scooter Use

Gender, income, motorized vehicle availability in the household, a green lifestyle propensity, and a positive perception of e-scooters are key determinants of frequency of e-scooter use.

Obstacles to transit agency implementation of micromobility and on-demand services 

Based on interviews with transit agency employees, the most commonly perceived challenges to implementing micromobility (bikeshare, scooter-share, etc.) are fare integration, obstruction of public space, funding, adequate supporting infrastructure, and development of equitable service. Challenges for on-demand service implementation are labor shortages, software performance, fare integration, vehicle shortages, and funding.

Possible Impacts of Automated Vehicles on Center City Parking and Livability

This study identifies factors that could influence the effects of repurposing parking space in city centers with the advent of automated vehicles (AVs). Positive outcomes may be more space for walking, biking, and non-car activities, while negative outcomes may be increases in empty vehicle miles traveled, emissions, and congestion from pick-ups and drop-offs. 

More publications can be found by searching the ITS-Davis publications database.

Outreach and Engagement


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The International Workshop for Autonomous System Safety (IWASS) was held in Southampton, UK. This event gathers key experts in autonomous systems safety from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies. Mollie Cohen D’Agostino gave a leading talk regarding automated vehicle safety policy.  

United States

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  • Research by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, led at ITS-Davis, was cited by the EPA in a July 20 webinar on MOVES4 Data & Analysis, which is the EPA’s latest model for estimating air pollution emissions from cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, and many categories of nonroad equipment.

  • Colin Murphy presented a seminar on Indirect Land Use Change at the EPA National Center on Environmental Economics (video and slides available here). The talk, “Making Policy in the Absence of Certainty, Risk-Aware Consideration of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) Estimates for Biofuels,” addresses decisions currently being made by the Treasury about how to implement alternative fuel tax credits created by the Inflation Reduction Act. A blog post on the topic is forthcoming.

  • Colin Murphy and Jin Wook Ro led a July 6 webinar presenting results from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) team’s modeling. Findings relate to California’s LCFS and the rulemaking that will occur later this year to adopt new targets for 2030 and beyond. This work confirms that the 30% carbon intensity reduction target CARB has selected is appropriate for the program and highlights many areas critical to the transition to low-carbon transportation.


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The California Public Utility Commission held several workshops in July and August regarding Automated vehicles, including a discussion on how to advance data reporting, and how to improve interaction planning with police and firefighters. Mollie Cohen D’Agostino and members of the MoSAIC team participated in the meetings. 

Our Region

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Yolobus Bee Line

Transportation innovations are happening in our backyard. The Yolo County Transportation District, directed by ITS-Davis alum, Autumn Bernstein, just launched new microtransit vehicles for use in Woodland, Knights Landing, and Winters. Mollie Cohen D’Agostino attended the September 19 kickoff, where she serves as the Woodland representative to the Citizen Advisory Committee for the county. 

  • UC Davis has begun building a Plug-in Electric Vehicles Archive of records and memorabilia to chronicle the development and commercialization of various electric vehicles. The archive will highlight the role of UC Davis in this history and be housed in the UC Davis Library’s Archives and Special Collections, with support from the ITS-Davis Electric Vehicle Research Center.

Webinars & Conferences

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  • At the triennial World Conference on Transport Research in Montreal, Canada, in July, Dan Sperling served as a keynote speaker. Faculty members David Bunch and Giovanni Circella and graduate students Maria Lecompte and Marcus Chan presented their latest research.

  • Graduate student researchers Maria Lecompte, Marcus Chan, and Justin Flynn and research engineer Ali Kothawala presented their latest work to a diverse group of stakeholders and researchers at the Sixth Annual Pacific Southwest Region Congress in Los Angeles. 
Susan at NHERI Wind Wall

In July, leadership for the National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) attended the 2023 Council of University Transportation Centers (UTC) Summer Meeting in Miami, Florida. The meeting focused on the role that transportation networks play within infrastructure, and it included a technical tour of the NHERI Wall of Wind Experimental Facility shown in the photo, with NCST director Susan Handy.

Webinar: Insights from the New End of Life EV Battery Policy Simulator

Alissa Kendall shared insights into end-of-life management of lithium ion batteries. An integrated approach to managing these batteries is crucial.

Webinar: Assessing the Mobility Needs of Rural and Underserved Communities in California

Caroline Rodier and Jesus Barajas highlighted research pertaining to meeting the mobility needs of small, rural, and marginalized communities in California.

ITS In the News Header

The Hill: Don’t fall prey to the current panic over automated vehicles

AVs are not the panacea to all transportation troubles, but let’s not discard this valuable innovation just yet.

WIRED: EV Mania Hasn't Killed Hunger for Hybrid Trucks

For environmentalists, hybrid vehicles can feel like a compromise. But demand for hybrid pickup trucks is surging—and they may be the greenest practical option.

Government Technology: Forget Range Anxiety. Most EV Drivers Have Charge Anxiety.

From worries about pulling up to a dysfunctional charger, to wading through a sea of complicated incentive programs, the transition to electric vehicles in the U.S. is not without obstacles.

POLITICO: Washington can’t get a climate pact. Gavin Newsom just cut another one.

California’s role as a shadow climate negotiator is only becoming more important as geopolitical tensions rise.

Autoweek: 25% Of California Passenger Vehicle Sales Are Now Electrified

State incentives and metropolitan charging availability are driving strong EV adoption trends. 

Money: Is a Ban on Gas-Powered Cars Coming? How States and Federal Agencies Are Pushing EV Adoption

Electric vehicles only represent about 7% of new vehicle sales in the U.S., but government agencies are pushing EVs to become the standard — and severe restrictions of gas-powered car sales are being proposed to get there.