2023 Summer Newsletter Header


  • A Note from the Director
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recent Events
  • Featured Publications
  • Outreach and Engagement
  • In The Spotlight
  • Highlights from the Transportation and Climate Blog
  • ITS-Davis in the News
A note rom the director

This spring has seen ITS rise to another level. We launched our new European Transportation and Energy Research Centre with a major conference in Brussels, following the first public event of our India ZEV Research Center. The USDOT announced that we would receive $20 million to continue the National Center for Sustainable Transportation and lead a group of seven universities studying transportation effects on the environment. We hosted a number of major conferences and workshops (see below), and we began building several promising new initiatives on automated vehicles, sustainable supply chains for vehicles, and public transportation. And, of course, we continued to publish a large number of reports, briefs, and journal articles; proudly graduated another class of master’s and PhD students in the Transportation Technology & Policy Program; and continued to inform and influence policy in California and afar. Thank you for your interest in our work!

European Transport and Energy Research Centre (ETERC)

March 15-16, 2023, Brussels, Belgium

2023 ETERC Conference

The 2023 ETERC Conference asked, “What Comes Next?” in achieving very low carbon transportation in Europe. Participants from both sides of the Atlantic shared their perspectives on climate change challenges in the context of energy security, environmental justice, and economics. International cooperation with China, India, and other world markets was discussed by a panel. 

Transit Research Symposium

May 10, 2023, UC Davis, Davis, CA

Transit Research Center Symposium

The Transit Research Symposium highlighted current studies from the ITS-Davis Transit Research Center. Presenters focused on challenges and opportunities in transit and shared use mobility. In the afternoon, public transit stakeholders, practitioners, policy makers, and researchers formulated a critical research agenda for public transit in a hands-on workshop.

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS+) Spring Symposium

May 17–18, 2023, UC Davis, Davis, California

2023 Spring Steps Plus Symposium

The STEPS+ Symposium—attended by 130 experts from industry, government, academia, and NGOs—covered emerging fuel and transportation technologies and policy in the US, California, and China. Highlights include a review of proposed EPA rules for multi-pollutants and GHGs, a student poster session, and “deep dive” sessions showcasing recent ITS-Davis projects in EVs, Future Mobility, Sustainable Freight, and Energy Futures. 

Environmental Justice Leaders Event

May 30, 2023, UC Davis, Davis, California

2023 EJ Leaders Conference

The Environmental Justice Leaders program bridges the gap between academia and grassroots action. This event spotlighted eight Leaders from around the US, who shared their visions and explained the work they are doing within their communities. The event was co-hosted by the UC Davis Feminist Research Institute and ITS-Davis. There will be a follow-up event in October, when participants graduate from the program. More info.

International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET)

June 4–8, 2023, Burlington, Vermont

ICOET 2023 Conference

The UC Davis Road Ecology Center’s ICOET is the foremost conference on enhancing the ecological sustainability of our transportation systems. In 2023, experts delved into topics including climate resilience, roadside pollinator habitat, and animal safety signage. Professionals from more than 20 countries shared knowledge on how to create infrastructure that meets the needs of wildlife as well as humans.

Graduation: 2023 TTP Students

June 15, 2023, UC Davis, Davis, California

2023 TTP Graduation

With great joy and pride, ITS-Davis commends the four PhD and nine master’s students who have earned their degrees from ITS-related programs in 2023 so far, and we applaud those who will complete their studies soon. We wish you the best, and look forward to the contributions you will make in building a better world. Slide show of graduates.

Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition (EVS36) Reception and Poster Session

June 14, 2023, UC Davis, Davis, California

EVS36 Reception

At an ITS-Davis reception following the Sacramento-based EVS36 Conference, Mark Duvall of HeyCharge gave a keynote address. Dahlia Garas, program manager for the ITS-Davis EV Research Center, presented the Craig Childers Student Awards to students working on the US Department of Energy’s EcoCar Electric Vehicle Challenge and the Society of Automotive Engineer’s Formula Racing Electric Competition. We announced the creation of the Plug-in Electric Vehicle Archive, which will be hosted by UC Davis Library Archives and Special Collections. It will house materials documenting UC Davis’s contributions to plug-in electric vehicles. At the reception, we were delighted to have Emeritus Professor Andrew (Andy) Frank, the “father of the modern plug-in hybrid electric vehicle,” in attendance. Frank led projects and student competitions on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and taught for decades at UC Davis. 

Featured Publications

Factors associated with adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in California

Based on a survey of 3260 residents, factors correlated with adopting alternative fuel vehicles are: being tech-savvy, pro-environment, and pro-suburban, and viewing cars mainly in terms of their practical value.

Addressing the impacts of electric vehicle batteries on lower- and middle-income countries

This study, sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, looks at how the increasing export of second-hand electric vehicles from wealthy to non-wealthy countries is adversely affecting the latter, and it proposes strategies to address these inequities. [Related Blog]

Facilitating a Transition to Zero-emission Vehicles in the Global South

A review of the status of energy and decarbonisation policies for road transport, paying specific attention to measures related to zero-emission vehicles.

Addressing vulnerabilities in the supply chain of critical minerals for zero emission technologies

This study for the Ministry of Mines of India examines how to address the limited availability of geographically concentrated minerals that are used in key zero-emissions technologies, including electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, and energy storage.

Estimating reductions in vehicle miles traveled from e-bike-share programs

This study develops a framework for estimating vehicle miles traveled (VMT) replaced by e-bike-share miles and applies it to Sacramento, finding that a dockless e-bikeshare service reduced VMT by 2,131 miles per day. We also published a study on the potential impact of bike-share services on transportation equity.

Low-Carbon Fuels for Aviation and Maritime Transport

This report summarizes insights from workshops in Europe and the US on strategies and policies for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from these sectors that are difficult to decarbonize.

Transportation challenges and adaptations among California’s rural residents who lack cars

Five percent (5%) of rural households in California have no vehicle and 18% have fewer than 1 car per adult. These households tend to have greater socioeconomic disadvantages than their car-lacking counterparts in nonrural areas do. This study looks at how these rural residents deal with limited mobility, often forgoing essential trips, and it identifies possible policy solutions. [Related webinar]

The impact of the federal tax credit on leasing and buying plug-in electric vehicles

This study shows that many purchasers and lessees of battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids would not have adopted these vehicles in the absence of the tax credit. Another study looked at whether initial adopters of plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles replace these vehicles with the same vehicle types or internal combustion engine vehicles. 

How to speed-up online machine learning that could improve traffic and automated-vehicle control

This study examines a strategy for accelerating Warm-Start reinforcement learning, which has been limited in real-world applications by sample complexity and computational cost.

Planning a hydrogen production and distribution system for California

This report summarizes our California Hydrogen Analysis Project, which assists in planning a future hydrogen system. The project models expected hydrogen demands and movement from supply to demand locations. [Related Blog

Pathways to low greenhouse gas futures for cars and trucks in the U.S.

This study analyzes policy and market dynamics related to vehicles and fuels, and how these will play a role in the US reaching goals for greenhouse gas reductions. [Related Blog]

Projected emissions reductions from vehicle electrification, grid decarbonization, and their synergy

In California, through 2045, light-duty vehicle electrification will cumulatively cut 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions, grid decarbonization will cut another 100 million tons, and policies to synergize these two strategies could cut another 10 million tons.

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

Outreach and Engagement

Legislation and Planning that Applied or Cited Our Research

In response to a request from the office of State Senator Lena Gonzales (CA-33), the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy shared research findings on electric vehicle carshare programs, operational costs, and challenges to implementation of these types of programs. The Policy Institute also responded to a legislative information request about the impacts of EVs on the electricity grid and supported a legislative briefing on “Zero-Emission Vehicle Adoption and the implications for California’s Power Grid.”

Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) invited Colin Murphy, Policy Institute Deputy Director, to join an expert workgroup to provide advice on a forthcoming Zero-Carbon Fuel Standard bill. 

Policy Briefings


The UC Davis Policy Institute met with 10 California legislative offices to establish ITS-Davis and the UC ITS as resources. We met with the offices of Senators Becker, Min, and Weiner, and Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry, Allen, Holden, Hart, and Blakespear. These are legislators who are on transportation committees or have authored transportation bills.

Colin Murphy presented LCFS modeling work at a May 23rd CARB Workshop on automatic target adjustment mechanisms under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. 

Mollie Cohen D’Agostino provided expert testimony at a recent California Public Utility Commission Public Workshop on Autonomous Vehicle Data Reporting held on June 22, 2023.  

The BicyclingPlus Research Collaborative held two policy briefings with the California Senate Office of Research. They discussed the evaluation of active transportation projects.

United States

The Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy met with staff from the offices of: Representatives Doris Matsui (CA-7), Paul Tonko (NY-20), John Garamendi (CA-8), and Mike Thompson (CA-4) and Senators Tammy Duckworth (IL), Diane Feinstein (CA), and Alex Padilla (CA).


The ITS-Davis India ZEV Research Centre held a briefing for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, India, on new policy measures to promote EV adoption in the state. Lessons from California ZEV Policies were shared. The Centre also briefed the intergovernmental ZEV Transition Council on supporting EV transitions in emerging markets including India, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Telangana to pursue zero emission vehicle research and knowledge exchange.


Giovanni Circella, Director of 3RFM at UC Davis and Professor of Mobility at Ghent University, met with the US Ambassador to Belgium during his visit to Ghent University. Dr. Circella highlighted the connection between Ghent University and the US research community via UC Davis. 


On June 15 the International EV Policy Council, led by Scott Hardman, held a hybrid (in-person and remote) meeting. Members from the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and the United States participated. The discussion focused on ZEV sales regulations, ZEV trucks, the origins of ZEV policy in Norway, and more.

Conferences & Webinars

Researchers from ITS-Davis participated in the Verdexchange 2023 Conference, Los Angeles, CA, where they discussed the California-India Climate Partnership; the India ZEV Research Centre also participated in a workshop entitled Demand Aggregation for Zero Emission Trucks in India, hosted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Smart Freight Centre, and WRI India. 

EV Research Center at the 36th Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition (EVS36),

June 11-14, 2023

EVS36 Conference

UC Davis was well represented at the 36th Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition June 11-14th in Sacramento, the group included current EV Center researchers and students, current and former visiting scholars, and UC Davis Alumni currently working in the industry. In more than 30 lectures and posters presentations, our people covered topics including: green charging, funding EVs, charging infrastructure equity, the used-EV market, freight vehicle electrification, and hydrogen hubs.

Webinar: The Role of Micromobility in Public Transit Planning

March 8, 2023

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

June 29, 2023 (video to be posted soon)

In the Spotlight section header

Dahlia Garas

On a high-school field trip to NASA Ames Research Center in the 1990s, Dahlia Garas was delighted to meet a researcher with a dual degree in biomedical and aerospace engineering who designed equipment for astronauts. Her reaction: “That is bad-ass! She is the coolest person I’ve ever met, and I’d like to do that.” Ms. Garas brought this inspiration and her aptitude for science to UC Davis to study engineering as an undergraduate. 

By the time she was a senior, her friends and study-mates recruited her to join the group designing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle as part of the FutureTruck competition. The most satisfying aspect of this was “working on and being part of a team.”

In 2007, after earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC Davis and working for Southern California Edison as an engineer specializing in hybrid vehicle design and testing, Ms. Garas was hired as the program manager at the newly forming Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center at ITS-Davis. The position seemed a perfect match for her—combining project management, research, and education & outreach. “It was initially a four-person center with one contract with the California Energy Commission to research and understand the gaps and opportunities at the state level for plug-in hybrid deployment.”

The original center is now called the Electric Vehicle Research Center and has grown in scope and in size, from 4 to about 35 people: “It’s not just light-duty, privately owned vehicles anymore. We are looking at plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, fuel-cell vehicles, fleet applications, buses, and international partnerships. The number of people we collaborate with has expanded tremendously.” Similarly, the number of state agencies funding the research has increased and the center often looks for supplementary funding that is crucial to enable in-depth analysis of the data collected with state funding.

Ms. Garas says one of the most satisfying parts of her work is “actually seeing the research impact automakers’ vehicles or agencies’ policy choices.” For example, one project seems to have influenced how the California Air Resources Board regulates plug-in hybrids. “We saw that high-range PHEVs were often plugged in and low range plug-in hybrids were charged much less often. And we found that if the [gasoline] engine would turn on above 35 mph, even if you had enough range, drivers were less motivated to plug-in their cars.” CARB’s policy incorporates these findings by now giving zero-emission vehicle credit to plug-in hybrids only if they meet range requirements and run on electricity at higher speeds.

As the EV Research Center moves forward, most recently expanding into research on charger reliability and the supply chain for auto manufacturing, Ms. Garas continues to enjoy and play a key role in sustaining the culture of education and teamwork that she helped to create and support. 

Transportation and Climate Blog Updates

Supporting California’s Move to Zero-Emission Vehicles: Creating a Viable, Large-Scale Fuel-Cell Vehicle and Hydrogen System

Lewis Fulton

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are expected to play a key role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. In response, a team at UC Davis has been working on a project to model and plan possible systems for hydrogen production and delivery. 

Cutting US road sector GHG emissions by 90% or more by 2050 takes both ZEVs and low-carbon fuels

Lewis Fulton, Marshall Miller, and Qian Wang

Our recent study shows an interplay between policy, vehicle types, and fuel sources. An early investment in zero-emission vehicles could yield big savings and big reductions in GHG emissions by 2050. 

Global Transition to Electric Vehicles Needs Urgent Support, Report Warns

Sam Chiu

A new report warns that without targeted support for low- and middle-income countries to transition toward zero-emission mobility, global progress toward zero-emission goals will be critically slowed, risking serious and inequitable outcomes.


Addressing the Impact of Lithium-ion Batteries on Low- and Middle-income Countries

Seth Karten

Strategic policies are needed to prevent the negative effects of electric vehicle batteries from disproportionately burdening lower-income countries. 

Design Strategies in Shared Vehicles to Prevent Disease Transmission

Seth Karten & Angela Sanguinetti

A new study from ITS-Davis shows how different design features in vehicles—such as ventilation and physical barriers—can prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases.

ITS In the News Header

USA Today: Are you a gas guzzler? The government might try to persuade you to switch to an EV

Governments on both coasts of the US want to persuade the small percentage of drivers who use the most gas to switch to electric vehicles—and some leaders are taking the first steps toward incentives to make it happen. Scott Hardman, assistant director of the Electric Vehicle Research Center at UC Davis, comments.

KPFA: A Rude Awakening Podcast with Jamie Katz and Colin Murphy

Colin Murphy is featured on this podcast exploring the history and details of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

New York Times: Struggling to Attract Riders, BART Rethinks Its Service Schedule

The Bay Area transit agency, which has regained only 45 percent of its pre-pandemic ridership, will offer more service on nights and weekends. UC Davis Professor Kari Watkins comments on the future of Bay Area Rapid Transit. 

KPBS: “Freeway Exit” Podcast Asks Listeners to Imagine a Future Without Highways 

We’re dependent on our cars because of freeways and the decisions made around building them. Now imagine a future where we don’t need to drive our cars every day. What would it take to decommission a freeway in San Diego? That is the premise explored in a new podcast by KPBS called “Freeway Exit.” UC Davis Professor Susan Handy contributes to episode two.

CNBC: Are gas-powered or electric vehicles a better deal? EVs may win out in long run, experts say

EVs might save you $6,000 or more, but ‘it depends.’ When comparing similar cars on total cost during ownership, “battery electric vehicles tend to come out ahead of [internal combustion engine] vehicles, on average,” said Debapriya Chakraborty, an economist and researcher at the Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis.

Marketplace: Next car may be electric, about 4 in 10 people say in poll

About 40% of Americans say they are at least somewhat likely to go electric the next time they buy a car. It also finds that the main barrier for most people to buying an electric vehicle is the sticker price. But driving an electric car is cheaper than driving a gas car. 

The Conversation: Climate damage is worsening faster than expected, but there’s still reason for optimism – 4 essential reads on the IPCC report

Alan Jenn, a transportation scholar at the University of California Davis and co-author on the IPCC report on mitigation, writes that cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by mid-century, a target considered necessary to keep global warming below 1.5 °C, will require “a major, rapid rethinking of how people get around globally.”

Reuters and Aramco Powered by How Podcast: Episode 2 - Moving the World Forward - The Future of Transport

How can we power the transport of the future? From fleet vehicles, aviation, and shipping, to personal EVs and the engineering excellence of F1 – Dan Sperling contributes to this episode examining the cutting edge mobility technologies that will keep the world moving into the future.