The Student of the Year award is presented during the Council of University Transportation Centers banquet at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January. For the past 15 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation has honored an outstanding graduate student from each UTC at this special ceremony. Each student receives a certificate from USDOT and $1,000 plus the cost of attendance from his or her center. Criteria for this award include technical merit and research accomplishments, academic performance, professionalism and leadership.
2013 Student of the Year
Katherine Bell, Portland State University. Katherine Bell is a licensed professional engineer who worked at a consulting firm and for the Oregon Department of Transportation before starting graduate work at Portland State University. Her interests include freight planning, modeling and performance measures; transportation emissions; and sustainable transporation systems.
Bell has served as an officer with Students in Transportation Engineering Planning (STEP), the student transportation group at Portland State, and been active with the Portland chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar. Bell has worked on OTREC research projects with Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State's civil and environmental engineering department and presented her work at forums including the TRB annual meeting and the Western District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers annual conference.
2012 Student of the Year
Kristina Currans, Portland State University. Kristina Currans is a graduate student at Portland State University whose work focuses on the relationship between land use and travel behavior, with a particular interest in multimodal transportation. After graduating from Oregon State University with a civil engineering bachelor’s degree in 2010, Currans soon made a name for herself in transportation circles.
She started her graduate coursework at Portland State and worked during academic breaks with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Transportation Planning Analysis Unit, home to state and regional transportation models. There, she worked with the Statewide Integrated Model, SWIM2, and the GreenSTEP transportation emissions model.
Currans works as a part of OTREC’s Oregon Modeling Collaborative and on several OTREC research projects. Her work on trip generation has attracted national attention. Currans was the 2012 outstanding student inductee to the Denice Dee Denton Women Engineers Hall of Fame.
2011 Student of the Year
Cortney Mild, University of Oregon. At the time of the award, Mild was in her first year at the University of Oregon’s Master of Community and Regional Planning program. She led LiveMove’s monthly speaker series. In her second year, she served as the group’s president. She has distinguished herself in the classroom and beyond.
In 2011, she participated in a UO Study Abroad course in Amsterdam and then completed an internship with a Dutch consulting firm that specializes in bicycle and pedestrian facility design. Mild’s thesis research is examining the mechanisms by which international study tours influence domestic practice in the area of bicycle and pedestrian planning.
Mild graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Ballet, and performed as a professional dancer before choosing planning and the UO for graduate school.
2010 Student of the Year
Alex Bigazzi, Portland State University. At the time of the award, Eisenhower Fellow Alex Bigazzi was in his second year of the Master of Science program in civil engineering at Portland State.
He holds bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering, from Portland State, and music, from the University of Miami. He has had four journal articles accepted for publication, two as lead author.
He has made 12 presentations at transportation conferences, including presentations in Sweden and Portugal. Bigazzi had an internship at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands which resulted in a journal article and three conference papers with international coauthors from academia and the private sector.
In 2009, he received a Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship and a National Science Foundation research fellowship. His primary interests are motor-vehicle emissions and human exposure to traffic-related air pollution, and he is currently involved in several research projects on these topics.
Alex has shown leadership in organizing student activities, including a biweekly discussion meeting among transportation students at Portland State he organized in 2009. He has been active with the Portland State chapter of Engineers Without Borders and took a service trip to Nicaragua.
2009 Student of the Year
Nathan McNeil, Portland State University. At the time of the award, Nathan was in his second year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at PSU. He holds a Bachelor of Art in History from Columbia University.
Nathan worked with professors Jennifer Dill and Christopher Monsere to evaluate Portland’s "Bike Boxes.”
He was the recipient of the 2008-2009 Rex Burkholder and Lydia Rich Scholarship, awarded through the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation at PSU. In 2008, he won an award for best poster at the Region X Student Conference.
Nathan is examining how bicycling can be incorporated into the application of walkable “20-minute” neighborhoods. He has formulated a strategy for regional planning government Metro to incorporate climate change concerns into planning activities and surveyed Portland stakeholders on how PSU can serve the region in the area of sustainability.
While living in New York, Nathan worked for a community economic development nonprofit, worked in social policy research, and served as a performance auditor for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Office of the Inspector General.
2008 Student of the Year
Christo Brehm, University of Oregon. At the time of the award, Christo was pursuing a concurrent graduate degree in community and regional planning and landscape architecture.
He holds an undergraduate degree in planning, public policy and management and has spent many years working in the field of affordable housing. While a student at the University of Oregon, Christo designed one of the nation’s first assessment tools of the emerging Complete Streets concept.
He has traveled across the country leading community assessment workshops using this tool, which works in a mobile GIS environment. Christo co-authored a paper for the 2009 TRB national conference and has presented his work at the national Pro Bike/Pro Walk conference. Leaders of two Oregon state agencies asked him to share his work with smaller Oregon communities.
Christo was a founding member and director of a campus-wide, interdisciplinary transportation and livability student group at the U of O called LiveMove. During this time, he worked with OTREC associate director Mark Schlossberg and has been an exceptional student researcher and leader.
2007 Student of the Year
Oren Eshel, Portland State University. After receiving a B.A. in geography from the University of California at Berkeley, Oren managed the Systems Engineering group at the San Francisco International Airport, where he worked on information technology planning in support of airport infrastructure projects. Oren embarked upon graduate study to focus on public transit, equity in provision of transit services, and regional planning. His interest in regional planning techniques drew him to Portland, OR where, at the time of the award, he was a Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduate student at Portland State University. Oren was a research assistant in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Lab at PSU. He was working on a project to evaluate an adaptive ramp metering system in the Portland region. Oren was also an intern with the City of Portland's Transportation Planning section. Oren was nominated by faculty for this award not only because he excels at research and in the classroom, but because he has made a significant mark on the multidisciplinary transportation program at PSU. Oren was president of the PSU transportation student group and ITE chapter (STEP) and coordinated the Fall 2007 Transportation Northwest District 10 Student Conference. Over 70 students from across the region attended. Oren volunteers with community outreach and events that encourage bicycling and walking. He is an avid bicyclist and enjoys traveling and spending time in the outdoors with his wife Allison.
2006 Student of the Year
Max Coffman, Portland State University. At the time of the award, Max was a master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University, and was described by faculty as an excellent student who contributed to class and had a top GPA, while also being an active member of the ITS Lab, organizing events and mentoring other students. Max presented "Enhancing Targeted Traffic Enforcement Efforts in Portland, Oregon" at the Institute of Transportation Engineers District 6 Annual Meeting in June 2006, attended a Rail-volution conference in Chicago in November 2006, developed a paper for the ITS World Congress, and is presented a paper entitled, "State of ITS: Telling Intelligent Transportation Systems Success Story for Portland, Oregon (Session 384) at the 86th Annual Meeting of TRB.
Max is from Houston, Texas, where he sat in more traffic than he cares to remember. As an undergraduate in Washington, DC, he grew accustomed to being within walking distance of cultural, shopping, entertainment and community resources, and would like to never go back to an automobile-dependent life. At Georgetown, Max majored in Science, Technology and International Affairs, with an environmental focus, and found that his research paper topics showed a strong trend towards sustainable transportation issues. He studied transport planning at the University of Melbourne in Australia for a semester in 2004, where he started a love affair with trams and continued to walk whenever possible. Max interned as a policy analyst at the Portland Office of Transportation and worked as a Transportation Staff Associate for Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams. After graduation, Max was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and found work at the Federal Highway Administration's Budget Office in Washington, D.C.