Auburn Engineering transportation expertise on full display at 2022 TRB conference

Published: Jan 7, 2022 12:00 PM

By Jeremy Henderson

The national influence of Auburn's new Transportation Research Institute (AUTRI) will be on full display next week in front of thousands of transportation professionals.  

Auburn faculty members and students conducting research through programs and labs under the institute's umbrella will lead nearly 50 presentations during the annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) conference, Jan. 9-13, in Washington D.C. 

The main theme for the 2022 meeting is Innovating an Equitable, Resilient, Sustainable and Safe Transportation System.

"It’s not surprising to me that Auburn and AUTRI are so well represented,” said Benjamin Bowers, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, who currently leads an interdisciplinary team of Auburn researchers in a $1.539M project addressing increasingly critical needs for resilient infrastructure. 

In addition to presiding on the TRB's Transportation Infrastructure Group Young Members Subcommittee, Bowers will present papers and posters on topics related to flexible pavement design and pavement recycling.

"TRB is one of the biggest transportation conferences in the world," he said. "It brings together researchers and practitioners from all areas of transportation to discuss the most pressing needs and concerns in our industry, all of which Auburn has been at the forefront of for years." 

AUTRI director Larry Rilett agrees. 

"Auburn's leading and broad transportation research and education portfolio was what attracted me to take the position of AUTRI director" said Rilett, the Ginn Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering. "It is not surprising that both our faculty and students have a significant presence at the TRB conference."

The awards don’t hurt, either.

Mitch Fisher, a civil engineering graduate student under Associate Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Jeffrey LaMondia, one of the 15 Auburn students presenting at the conference, will be honored Monday at the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) Annual Student Award Banquet as the United States Department of Transportation’s Southeastern Transportation Center Outstanding Student of Year for 2021.  

Fisher, who was also recently selected for the 2021 Graduate Research Award Program sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, is presenting on socio-geographic influences on American long-distance travel.

“This is quite an honor for Mitch, as our region has a number of universities with nationally-recognized transportation programs,” said LaMondia, who sits on the TRB’s Long-Distance Travel subcommittee.  

Jaime Schussler and Billur Kazaz, both graduate research assistants studying stormwater management under Assistant Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Michael Perez, are presenting for the second year in a row.

"Presenting at TRB is obviously a big honor," said Schussler, who will present on cost analysis of ditch check practices in highway construction. "It's always nice to have your work validated within the industry, especially as a student."

Kazaz says that with that validation comes opportunity. 

"TRB increases your credibility as a researcher and provides great networking going forward into the job market," she said.

Kazaz will present on soil loss risk analysis related to construction, as well as flocculant detection in stormwater runoff. 

“This is one of the best opportunities for faculty and students to share their latest research, provide technology transfer, form new collaborations and develop innovative ideas,” Bowers said. “It helps our students gain experience presenting and growing their networks in the transportation industry.”

A full list of Auburn participants, as well as details related to their presentations can be downloaded here.

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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