Leaders, students recognized at virtual awards ceremony

CTS presented the following awards during a virtual awards ceremony held May 19. Congratulations to this year's recipients!

Richard P. Braun Distinguished Service Award

John Levin

This award, which recognizes outstanding leadership in research and innovation, was presented to John Levin, director of strategic initiatives at Metro Transit. Levin has been with Metro Transit for 24 years and currently guides work on strategic planning, research, performance management, shared mobility, and technology management.

“John has been a true champion of research and innovation for many years, helping to identify research opportunities, working to identify funding sources, and offering his ideas and expertise to our University researchers and students,” said CTS interim director Dawn Hood, who presented Levin with the award.

When asked about working with Levin, Humphrey School professor Yingling Fan said, “John is an innovative thought leader and change agent in the transit industry. His leadership was instrumental to many successful initiatives at Metro Transit, including Better Bus Stops, arterial BRT, and shared mobility. His ability to use research and analytics to guide decision making and turn crises into opportunities for regional transit improvements is beyond my imagination.”

Distinguished Public Leadership Award

Randy Maluchnik
Randy Maluchnik

Randy Maluchnik, who served as commissioner of Carver County from 2007–2021, received this award, which recognizes public leaders who have influenced innovative transportation policy directions. In his role as commissioner, Maluchnik championed the county's efforts to improve US Highway 212, a $90 million project that combines county, state, and federal funding to improve the efficiency and safety of one of the state’s busiest highways.

“Randy has been an avid champion for local government and for transportation infrastructure funding, Hood said. He has served on the Met Council’s Transportation Advisory Board, as president of the Southwest Transportation Corridor Coalition, and as past president of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance and the Association of Minnesota Counties.

“As president of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, Randy excelled at bringing people together to collaborate, create relationships, and build the organization,said Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Alliance. “Randy clearly understands the need for elected officials to learn from experts in the field and for industry professionals to work closely with legislators and congressional members to develop strong public policy and see it enacted into law.

Ray L. Lappegaard Distinguished Service Award

Bill Dossett

This award, which honors outstanding leadership, mentorship, and support for the transportation profession, was presented to Bill Dossett, executive director of Nice Ride Minnesota. After practicing law in Minneapolis for 15 years, Dossett launched Nice Ride in 2010. He also cofounded and served as the first president of the North American Bike Share Association and helped found the Twin Cities Shared Mobility Collaborative.

Bill is a champion for advancing all shared modes,said CTS associate director Gina Baas when presenting Dossett with the award. He has also been generous with his time and data in support of CTS, University research, and student projects.

When recommending Dossett for the award, Jay Cowles of the Itasca Project described him as the father of bike share in Minnesota. Cowles also noted that, thanks in part to Dossett's efforts, Minneapolis and Minnesota are consistently named among the most bike friendly and accessible cities and states in the country.

William K. Smith Distinguished Service Award

Deborah DeLuca

Deborah DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, received this award in recognition of her leadership, mentorship, and education of future leaders in private-sector freight transportation. DeLuca is the first woman to hold the position of executive director in the Port Authority's 60-year history. She is currently president of the Minnesota Ports Association, a member of the Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee, and an executive committee member of APEX, a regional economic and business development organization.

Since becoming the Port Authority's executive director in 2018, Deb has marshalled resources to initiate more than $26 million in port-related capital projects, Baas said. The results have greatly increased freight transport capacity and efficiency in the Port of Duluth-Superior.

According to Ron Dvorak of Lake Superior Warehousing, DeLuca's colleague and a previous Smith award winner, Deb is an energetic, pragmatic and intelligent leader who brings a high-performance mentality to her Port Authority role and the freight transportation/supply chain business.

Matthew J. Huber Student Award

Pramesh Kumar
Souvik Roy

This award, named in honor of the late Professor Emeritus Matthew J. Huber, is presented to University of Minnesota graduate students demonstrating outstanding academic achievement in engineering, science, and technology fields. Souvik Roy, a master's student in civil engineering, and Pramesh Kumar, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering, received this year's awards.

Manik Barman, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has worked with Roy for nearly two years. He credits Roy's contributions as a research assistant as a significant factor in securing a second round of research funding from the National Road Research Alliance.

Alireza Khani, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering and Kumar's advisor, said that Kumar has made significant contributions in the use of new transit data sources and in tackling issues surrounding uncertainties in transit demand.

John S. Adams Student Award

Tao Tao
Erika Shephard
Kimberly Napoline

This award, named for Professor Emeritus John Adams, is presented to outstanding University of Minnesota students in the fields of policy and planning. This year's award for a master's student was presented to Kimberly Napoline and Erika Shephard—the first time the award has gone to a team. Napoline is completing a dual degree, a master's in public policy and an MBA, and Shephard is working toward a master's degree in urban and regional planning. Tao Tao, a doctoral candidate in public affairs, urban planning track, received the PhD student award. 

Napoline and Shephard have been working closely together as a research assistant team for the Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness (TPEC) program for over a year. Their work is focused on transportation supply chain policy issues for the medical technology industry cluster in Minnesota. Lee Munnich, senior researcher at the Humphrey School and Napoline's advisor, shared that their work with the TPEC program has included producing a research paper that was presented at TRB, organizing a Medical Industry Cluster Forum, and organizing interviews with local industry to learn how the pandemic has affected their supply chains.

Jason Cao, a Humphrey School professor and Tao's advisor, said that Tao’s publication record is exceptional for a fourth-year PhD student. He also described Tao as an open-minded researcher with an excellent sense of scientific curiosity and insightful ideas.” Tao’s doctoral research will employ machine-based learning approaches to regional travel data in the Twin Cities to identify thresholds effects of land use on travel behavior, and Cao believes the findings will be practically important in the future of equity planning.

Richard P. Braun Transportation Scholarship

Jake Robbennolt

Jake Robbennolt, an undergraduate student in civil engineering and urban studies, received this year's scholarship. It is awarded to University of Minnesota undergraduate students pursuing degrees related to transportation who have demonstrated academic merit and leadership skills.

John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, nominated Robbennolt for this award, praising his professionalism, reliability, and motivation to learn. “He is one of the rare students that, when offered the opportunity to expand their skills, they grab it, Hourdos said. “During the last very strange year, when everybody struggled to work remotely, Jake continuously expanded his skills and involvement in projects like the CAV testbed and the automated queue warning system implementation on I-94.

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Michael McCarthy
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mpmccarthy@umn.edu