Undergraduate Research Fellowship Awards

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC Davis awards undergraduate research fellowships to students interested in continuing their studies over the summer by conducting research in one of the following areas: environmentally responsible infrastructure and operations, multi-modal travel and sustainable land use, zero-emission vehicle and fuel technologies, and institutional change. We are very excited to have these students working with us! Learn about NCST undergraduate research assistantships offered at the University of Vermont

2018 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

thomas bradas

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Gil Tal

Thomas worked with his peers to conduct a research project on the effect of high ambient temperatures on plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging efficiency. Thomas coordinated the project with respect to PEV owners, managed regular temperature measurements, and developed functions for the calculations involved. Thomas also contributed to other projects at the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center, including studies on PEV usage and market availability.

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Jenny Callan

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Deb Niemeier

Jenny’s research project involved providing data for the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid group which represents a low-income, minority neighborhood that borders Mexico and are battling city plans to move a bus hub to an underprivileged high school area. She calculated the difference between emissions generated from diesel and propane buses, in particular CO, NOx, PM10, PM2.5 and VOC emissions, to provide support to the legal group’s claims. Jenny also applied the Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s school siting guidelines, and National Ambient Air Quality Standards to her findings as an added level of analysis for this project.

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Valerie chang

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Deb Niemeier

Valerie’s research investigated pavement smoothness, bicycle dynamic measurements, and their relationship to ride quality. Specifically, she examined the relationship between bicycle ride quality and traditional pavement roughness measurement, and bicycle accelerations and steering angle indices. Valerie used 30 bike path sections with a representative range of pavement surface conditions to collect acceleration data, steering angle data, GPS location data, and mean texture depth data.

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Jonathan Doyle

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Paul Erickson

Jonathan developed an experimental setup for measuring the thermodynamic and heat transfer performance of a gas turbine compressor stator at various operating parameters. His work involved the preliminary design and modeling in SolidWorks and ANSYS Fluent, fabrication of the stator, and identification of instrumentation as well as controls. The results of this work formed a basis for subsequent experimentation within the Energy Research Lab’s Fuel Integrated Energy Recuperative Aero-Derivative (FIERA) project.

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Parisa farman

Major: Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
Faculty Mentor: Fraser Shilling

Parisa conducted research on projects for the UC Davis Road Ecology Lab that focused on analyzing roadkill data and investigating the use of wildlife crossing structures. Parisa helped to set up motion sensor cameras in and around wildlife crossing structures, identifying species in the photos that are taken by the cameras, and reading through California Highway Patrol reports regarding traffic accidents with wildlife.

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jonathan gordon

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Gil Tal

Jon worked on a variety of projects at the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center. He assisted in the data collection effort for an ongoing multi-year study called the electric Vehicle Miles Traveled (eVMT) study, analyzing the use patterns of domestic plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Jon also worked with other NCST summer researcher fellows to construct their own methodology, implementation, and analysis for a study to determine the effects of extreme temperature on electric battery charging efficiency with the goal of advising policy makers and PEV owners.

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mia guarnieri

Major: Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
Faculty Mentor: Fraser Shilling

Mia worked on a UC Davis Road Ecology Center project that investigated how light and noise pollution affect the wildlife usage of crossing structures under highways. She helped to set-up and take down camera traps at crossings and in the surrounding area, identify species in the collected photos, and sort through photos in an online database, noting animal species and activity.

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nathaniel kong

Major: Managerial Economics and Computer Science
Faculty Mentor: Gil Tal

Nathan worked with his mentor on multiple projects related to electric vehicles. His main project measured the charging efficiency of cars in order to analyze how much energy is lost to temperature, specifically, high temperatures. Nathan also worked on the ongoing eVMT (electric Vehicle Miles Traveled) Project to help study how people use plug-in electric vehicles in their fleet of vehicles.

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Kelila krantz

Major: International Relations
Faculty Mentor: Susan Pike

Kelila worked with her mentor on researching the sustainable transportation implications of on-demand ride services. She is analyzed interviews with relevant stakeholders, such as state agencies, California metropolitan planning organizations, regional transportation planning agencies, and the ridehailing industry. Kelila also conducted a literature review of past studies, analyzing the potential outcomes of these services related to vehicle miles traveled, congestion, emissions, and public transit use. View Presentation | Download Final Report


Brandon Toy

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Michael Zhang

Brandon and his team, in collaboration with the California Department of Transportation, researched the effects of adding a Yellow Border to the Pedestrian Signal. The desired effect was to decrease the number of pedestrian violations while increasing the visibility of pedestrians so that vehicles would drive more cautiously around them. He helped to record pedestrian and vehicle data and conduct surveys.

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Brian walker

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Francis Assadian

Brian worked with his mentor to simulate lithium-ion battery degradation using MATLAB and Simulink. Solar PV arrays and ultra capacitors were added to electric bus simulations to better understand how lithium batteries degrade over time in order to find better ways of achieving longevity of the battery. By achieving more longevity, charge cycles increase and it becomes more useful for public transit, as well as more cost effective over time.

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2017 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

Kathryn Canepa

Major: Sustainable Environmental Design
Faculty Mentor: Gil Tal

Kathryn worked with her mentor to write a paper for the Transportation Research Board exploring plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) use in disadvantaged communities. Kathryn is helping with GIS analysis to quantify topics like the share of PEV owners in these communities and how many PEV owners have incomes lower than the California median household income. Kathryn is also helping with additional research that looks at current PEV use with the goal of making electric vehicles more accessible to lower income demographics. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Monica Gonzalez

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning; Political Science-Public Service
Faculty Mentor: Giovanni Circella

Monica worked with her faculty mentor to design a transportation behavior survey for The Sustainable City in Dubai. The study looks at individual’s mobility needs and preferences to characterize a car-sharing program and identify incentives to promote sustainable transportation. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Thomas Guo

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Alan Jenn

Thomas worked with his mentor on researching the environmental and public safety benefits of connected vehicles by reviewing their overall greenhouse gas and traffic reductions, along with their potential for accident prevention. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Joseph Kaylor

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Faculty Mentor: Jamey Volker and Amy Lee

This summer, Joe worked with his mentors to produce case studies for cities in California to research the relationship between transportation impact metrics and land use development patterns. Specifically, Senate Bill 743’s recommendation to switch from Level of Service to Vehicle Miles Traveled as the threshold metric for transportation related environmental impacts in environmental review. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Maia Moran

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Faculty Mentor: Gil Tal

Maia identified and analyzed the impacts of ‘shocks’ to the electric vehicle market in select states and countries by measuring long-term policy and incentive changes. Statistical models paired with a content analysis of policies and incentives have been deployed to measure significant market changes and the potentially distributed impacts of isolated shocks to electric vehicle adoption. The collected data intends to inform policymakers and automakers about the influence of market changes and long-term coordination to support market development. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Blythe Nishi

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Debbie Niemeier

Blythe researched how priority development areas in the Bay Area are being implemented and supported by their local counties and Congestion Management Agencies. She looked at the transit investments and regulations aimed at them, as well as how effective these areas are in providing opportunities for locals and easily accessible transit, jobs, shopping and services. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Callum Watts

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Faculty Mentor: Rebecca Hernandez

Callum worked with the AridLab team to calculate the photovoltaic potential of parking lots associated with the largest commercial buildings in the United States, and quantify this potential energy in terms of a building-specific electricity generation and electricity consumption balance. This was accomplished by using both the ArcGIS and Aurora platforms to calculate parking lot areas and perform cloud-based solar optimization analysis. View Presentation | Download Final Report


2016 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

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Esther Robles De Wence and Praewa (Patty) Boonlue

Major: Environmental Science and Management
Faculty Mentor: Rebecca Hernandez

Patty and Esther worked together to research photovoltaic (PV) solar energy-generating systems. Their goal was to quantify the potential of rooftop-mounted PV systems deployed on 25 of the largest buildings in the United States and compare the amount space on land that rooftop-mounted PV systems save to ground-mounted, utility-scale PV power plants. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Freshta Pirzada

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Giovanni Circella

Freshta worked with a group of graduate students to determine what affects young adults’ choices of mobility. She helped to analyze the responses of over 2,000 young adults to determine how certain factors (e.g., home type, commute distance, travel patterns, city type) influence travel choices. Once patterns and overall preferences are determined, land use and transportation planners can use this information to ensure the mobility needs of young adults are being met. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Itsel Guzman

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Faculty Mentor: Lew Fulton

Itsel researched the social and economic viability of dynamic ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The study looks at the growth and efficiency of ride share services, and their impacts on carpooling and car ownership in the future. View Presentation | Download Final Report


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Juliet Martin

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning and Communications
Faculty Mentor: Fraser Shilling

Juliet worked with the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis to research the impact of transportation systems on wildlife. This research studies how transportation infrastructure affects the behavior and movement of wildlife. The goal of her project is to effectuate low-impact, sustainable transportation policies beneficial to wildlife wellbeing. Download Final Report


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Tului Gantulga

Major: Civil Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Miguel Jaller

Tului researched strategies to improve the efficiency of urban freight deliveries considering delivery times, sequence of stops, costs, and the economic and environmental impact of congestion. He created a program that takes requests at any time of the day and calculates the most efficient way of picking up/dropping off a package based on previously mentioned considerations. The program also gathers traffic data from Google at different times of the day and different days of the week to be able to work offline. View Presentation | Download Final Report