Robert C. Johns Research Partnership Award

The Robert C. Johns Research Partnership Award is presented annually to a team of individuals who have collaboratively drawn on their diverse expertise to achieve significant impacts on transportation. The award is named in honor of former CTS director Robert Johns, who provided visionary leadership in recognizing that the most effective research to address today’s complex transportation challenges is often a result of interdisciplinary teamwork and partnerships. He demonstrated this by developing and leading several major CTS studies, including transportation and regional growth, transportation and community design, and access to destinations. He continued to champion interdisciplinary research as director of the USDOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.


This award recognizes research projects within the CTS program that have the following qualities:

  • Included an interdisciplinary research component led by University of Minnesota faculty or research staff
  • Involved University of Minnesota students
  • Produced significant findings that have influenced transportation practice and/or policy
  • Generated measured benefits as a result of the impacts of the research
  • Involved a team of individuals representing one or more sectors of society (i.e., public, academic, private, non-profit)

2021 Recipient

Cloud Connected Delivery Vehicles: Boosting Fuel Economy Using Physics-Aware Spatiotemporal Data Analytics and Real-Time Powertrain Control

This project developed technology to improve the fuel efficiency of last-mile delivery vehicles through real-time powertrain optimization using two-way vehicle-to-cloud connectivity. The effort led to a 20 percent improvement in the fuel economy of hybrid delivery vehicles operating as part of the UPS fleet and may help reduce energy consumption of future connected and automated delivery vehicles. The research also has the potential to ease the transition to electrification for commercial applications.

University of Minnesota: Will Northrop, Shashi Shekhar, Shawn Haag

UPS–Automotive: Michael McDonald

Workhorse: Mike Muldoon

JKV Engineering: Jude Huber

Past Recipients

View a list of research projects that have previously received the Research Partnership Award.