Levin, Jafari, Vinayak, and Pandey Recognized for Academic Achievement

CTR is proud to announce that its students have continued their tradition of excellence, receiving recognition in recent months from ITS Texas—the Texas chapter of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America)—as well as the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC).

Photo of Michael Levin

Michael Levin

Three CTR students won 2016 ITS Texas Scholarships: Michael Levin received a scholarship of $2,500, Ehsan Jafari received a scholarship of $2,000, and Pragun Vinayak received a scholarship of $2,000. These were awarded at the 2016 Annual Meeting in Richardson, Texas on November 11, 2016. Notes Gopindra Sivakumar Nair, President of the ITS UT Austin Chapter, “We hope to continue this streak of winning scholarships in the years to come.”


Ehsan Jafari

Ehsan Jafari

The purpose of ITS Texas is to promote and enhance public safety and community welfare by fostering research, development, and implementation of plans and programs to reduce motor vehicle deaths and injuries, improve mobility and to promote, encourage, and advance a system of safer, more economical, energy efficient and environmentally sound highway and other surface transportation through research, development, and implementation of advanced technology.


Pragun Vinayak

Pragun Vinayak

Both Michael and Ehsan are PhD students; Pragun is an MS student. The ITS Austin Chapter, established in 1995, is one of only two student chapters in Texas. The chapter is hosting the 2016-17 CTR Seminar Series, in which top professionals in the ITE and ITS fields present on areas of their expertise and meet with students afterward.


And further congratulations go to Venktesh Pandey for winning the CUTC’s  Milton Pikarsky MS Thesis Award. This award continues a trend where almost every year at least one of our CTR-funded transportation graduate students wins a thesis/dissertation CUTC national award. The Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award is given annually for the best Ph.D. dissertation and M.S. thesis in the field of science and technology in transportation studies. Winners in the MS Thesis category receive a $1500 honorarium. Read Venktesh’s Student Spotlight. Venktesh works as a graduate research assistant to Dr. Steve Boyles, who himself won this award in 2006 for his M.S. thesis. Dr. Boyles noted that “Venktesh’s thesis is aimed at better pricing strategies for dynamic toll lanes, like the ones recently opened on Mopac. Finding the right pricing strategy is difficult, and past research has had to make some severe assumptions like the facility only having one entrance and exit point, or having perfect knowledge of driver behavior. In his thesis Venktesh has made important steps to making these models more realistic, which can help these dynamic toll lanes be as effective as possible in providing a reliable alternative to congested freeways. He has done excellent work in this area, and I’m glad that he has chosen to stay at CTR for his doctoral studies!”

Venktesh with his award

Venktesh was presented with the Milton Pikarsky Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis in Science and Technology at the CUTC Annual Awards Banquet Jan. 7, 2017.

Posted by Maureen Kelly  |  Category : Awards