NCST Research Program & Themes

The NCST addresses the especially pressing challenge of accelerating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously enhancing transportation equity. We do so by producing research that supports innovation in policy by informing legislation and regulation, reforming professional practices, and reshaping programs and plans. Our work contributes to the fundamental policy transformation essential to accelerating decarbonization in a way that ensures that the benefits of the transportation system are broadly distributed and that the well-being of people in overburdened and historically disadvantaged communities is substantially improved. 

We support policy innovation to achieve equitable decarbonization through four kinds of research activities inspired by the US DOT goal of matching research and policy to advance breakthroughs:  

  • building tools to support policy making, including datasets, lifecycle assessments, and predictive simulation models that support scenario planning;  
  • developing policy elements, such as evidence-based standards, model regulations, pricing strategies, funding strategies, and others;  
  • conducting evaluation studies that assess the outcomes of policies using techniques such as experimental designs and econometric modeling; and  
  • undertaking basic research that provides a solid foundation for each of these activities by improving our understanding of the transportation system.  

Through these activities, the NCST brings scientific rigor to the transformation of policy towards equitable decarbonization. We focus on three critical transportation domains that span both passenger and freight travel, all modes of travel, and all travel settings: vehicle technology, infrastructure provision, and travel demand. New initiatives include cutting-edge research on the critical issues of vehicle electrification, rural mobility, and sustainable freight.

NCST BIL Research Tracks


NCST research is disseminated through printed materials, events, briefings, webinars, social media, and other techniques—and we go beyond dissemination to truly engage stakeholders in shaping our research program. Our education programs provide a conduit for the products of our research to our students, who then bring this knowledge to their work in the transportation field. In these ways, the three elements of the NCST program are complementary and intertwined: 

  • We deliver a cutting-edge research program that provides the new tools and datasets, policy elements, evaluation studies, and basic knowledge necessary for a policy transformation that equitably decarbonizes the transportation system; 
  • We shape and deliver our products through an innovative engagement program using multiple techniques and involving all levels of government, tribal councils, other public and private sector stakeholders, and communities themselves; 
  • We provide education and workforce development programs, including community college collaborations, that build multiple pathways to careers in transportation, diversify the transportation workforce, and provide the training needed to take on the challenges of equitable decarbonization.
NCST's research, education, and engagement programs


The NCST’s activities contribute to accelerated adoption of vehicles and fuels that minimize GHG emissions, new approaches to infrastructure provision and systems operation that lessen environmental impacts, and a shift towards modes other than driving so as to reduce vehicle miles traveled while improving accessibility. These transformations help the country reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while reducing other environmental harms, enhancing social equity, and supporting economic vitality.