ITS Director's Letter

Director's Letter header

Alexandre BayenDear Friends and Colleagues,

Happy Staff Appreciation Week! There are several events happening around campus for staff appreciation, so check your emails to take advantage of those opportunities! I also encourage everyone to take a moment to read our new kudos section at the end of this newsletter that recognizes the above and beyond efforts of our staff that may seem small at the time, but make an impact on staff morale. Check out the online 
kudos section on our website for previous kudos and submit one of your own to Communications Director Amanda Cairo: acairo@berkeley.edu.

On a more serious note, I want to thank everyone for their patience and flexibility during the main campus power outages to continue critical operations and meet necessary deadlines. As we face new potential power outages and some of you are smelling smoke from current wildfires to the north, I want to highlight some of our recent research efforts our researchers are working on. Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Kenichi Soga is leading a 
yearlong study in Bolinas, CA that will employ new traffic simulation models to develop the most efficient method of evacuation. Soga said the team will examine how the evacuation process is influenced not only inside and near Bolinas, but also the Bay Area as a whole. Bolinas, a coastal town in West Marin County has few and narrow roads out that pose a particular danger.

In addition, Transportation Sustainability Research Center Co-Director and doctoral student Stephen Wong are exploring 
how can companies like Airbnb, Lyft or Uber help in disasters. Their first-of-its-kind policy brief suggests emergency management agencies and local relief organizations partner with companies in the sharing economy — including Airbnb, Lyft and Uber — and private citizens, to ensure vulnerable populations have the resources to evacuate and have comfortable, affordable shelter. They have been interviewing evacuees from the Thomas Fire, Creek Fire, Skirball Fire, and Camp Fire to gain a better idea of how the sharing economy can be an integral part of evacuation, especially when local government agencies do not have enough resources to transport and shelter all of the evacuees, especially vulnerable populations like the elderly and disabled. As the state and nation face and respond to more critical emergency situations, I am heartened that we will be an integral part in improving the evacuation process.

As we are providing on the ground solutions to problems, ITS recently hosted the Sustainable Aviation Symposium, which several of our faculty presented at. Both College of Engineering Dean Tsu-Jae King Liu, Department of Nuclear Engineering Department Co-Chair Karl van Bibber and ITS Associate Director Daniel Rodriguez offered opening remarks at the two-day event Oct. 7-8, 2019. In addition, NEXTOR Deputy Director Jasenka Rakas, Civil and Environmental Engineering professors Arpad Horvath and Raja Sengupta, Mechanical Engineering professor Mark Mueller, and City and Regional Planning professor Dan Chatman presented their research. Thanks to a generous donation from the College of Engineering, a large number of students were able to attend this event and interact with leading academic researchers and practical innovators in the field of sustainable aviation. I was very heartened to see so many students at the event and to watch them interact with these leaders. With this in mind, I am also excited to see the UC Berkeley campus focusing on aerospace. Several ITS affiliates are part of the Aero/Astro/Space Sciences Program Task Force to explore what a program at Cal would look like. I look forward to seeing what comes from this group.

As we nudge past the mid semester work, I know that we are all busy, and I thank you all again for the hard work that goes into this institution.


 Go Bears,


Alexandre Bayen
Director of Institute of Transportation Studies
Liao-Cho Professor of Engineering