AUSTIN, Texas —Dr. Kara Kockleman has received a $200,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to develop a better system of computer modeling to be used for transportation and urban planning. Kockleman, 31, is an assistant professor of civil engineering and transportation at The University of Texas at Austin College of Engineering.
NSF CAREER awards are made to exceptional young faculty members and rank among the most prestigious research honors they can receive. The four-year grant will be matched with $100,000 from the Texas Department of Transportation and $100,000 from the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Kockleman plans to develop a complex computer simulation that would be appropriate for use throughout the world, in urban or rural areas. She said developing a better basis for transportation planning could help alleviate a number of problems, including traffic congestion, air pollution and urban sprawl.
The model she wants to develop would be more complex than those currently used and would include a number of factors not usually made part of transportation models. But these factors may be crucial to accurate planning.
For example, the specifications in her planning model would permit the user to develop estimates of future populations and employment activities within the model itself, rather than relying on outside projections of these important variables. Users also could develop estimates within the model of the demand for manufactured products, marketing interactions among industry, business and consumers as well as real estate and home-searching behaviors.
“Simply representing all the actors in the model — like developers, firms and households — all as market participants will be a big contribution,” Kockleman said.
“If you want it to be a positive model — which means that it explains what is actually happening — you also probably need to include a lot of lag time in behavior,” Kockleman said. “This model will have a very important temporal or dynamic component.”
By using a model that takes the complex interrelationships among these factors into account, planners may be able to make better use of such tools as pricing, zoning and public transportation. Kockleman said she also hopes her research will reveal “how different investment scenarios or different transportation policies would affect our urban areas, the welfare of their inhabitants and how they might evolve. Sprawl is one of the issues that has plagued a lot of regions, along with emission issues and congestion issues.”
While Kockleman teaches engineering, she also has a background in urban planing, economics and statistics.
“I think this will enhance the likelihood that I will do a good job of modeling the multiple systems fairly and consistently,” she said. She said she would use her award to encourage a cross-disciplinary view of traffic studies at UT Austin, possibly teaching a new course using material from several fields.
“There are few places in the world that integrate both the disciplines of transportation and of land use,” she said. “Most of your transportation modelers are in engineering. And most of your land use modelers would be in geography or urban planning.”
Kockleman holds the Clare Booth Luce Professorship in civil engineering. She earned her Ph.D. in civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, and also has a master’s in city planning and a master’s of science degree.
For more information, contact Dr. Kara Kockleman at the College of Engineering at (512) 471-0210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Becky Rische at (512) 471-7272. For more information on Kockleman, see: www.ce.utexas.edu/prof/kockelman/home.html