CTS Scholars are leading researchers and educators at the University of Minnesota, drawn from diverse fields. They work closely with CTS to identify new research opportunities and develop new initiatives for transportation education.
Last fall, CTS launched a new element of the program: the CTS Senior Scholar. “The CTS Senior Scholar Program provides an opportunity for a tenured faculty member who is a thought leader in the field of transportation to deepen his or her relationship with CTS and its stakeholders and apply that expertise to activities that advance the CTS mission,” says Laurie McGinnis, CTS director. “The program provides a unique opportunity for a faculty member to leverage personal academic and research goals with CTS’s strengths.”
Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has been named the first CTS Senior Scholar. He will serve a two-year term and receive some funding to support this role. The selection was made through a competitive process with guidance from the CTS Executive Committee.
Benjaafar has been engaged with CTS on a variety of projects and activities for nearly 20 years. Most recently, he has led the Initiative on the Sharing Economy, an effort established by CTS in partnership with Benjaafar and other faculty members across the University and administered by CTS.
“As Senior Scholar, I will devote time and effort to the further development of the initiative,” he says. Goals of the initiative include establishing the U as a center for thought leadership on issues surrounding the sharing (and on-demand) economy and cultivating a cross-disciplinary community of faculty and researchers. The initiative will also encourage University-driven entrepreneurship and innovation and promote engagement with industry, government, and the nonprofit sector while providing balanced analysis and guidance to policymakers.
“I will also devote time to engage external communities, including cities and towns in the region, to identify opportunities where sharing economy tools—including shared mobility—could be deployed to enhance economic opportunities,” he says. “Of particular interest to me are those opportunities of relevance to low-income communities and communities of color.”