As part of a broadening of its scope, the Transportation Policy Research Center at The University of Alabama will be led by longtime engineering professor, Dr. Steven Jones.
As the new center director, Jones will also become the full-time deputy director of the Alabama Transportation Institute at UA. He was previously part-time deputy director at ATI while serving as the James R. Cudworth Professor in civil, construction and environmental engineering. In his new role, he will continue to serve as a full professor in the UA College of Engineering.
Jones brings more than 25 years of transportation engineering and planning experience spanning both academic and private sector consulting appointments. His research and professional efforts explore how transportation impacts human development through, for example, safety and accessibility as well as cultivating international relationships to facilitate collaborative research, education and technology transfer.
“We are pleased to have someone as experienced as Dr. Jones serve in this expanded role and look forward to his leadership and the contagious zeal he exhibits,” said Dr. Allen Parrish, executive director of ATI. “Transportation is more than roads and cars, and he brings a passion for understanding transportation from a societal level and how innovation can benefit our everyday lives.”
The Transportation Policy Research Center plays a central role in ATI, helping to communicate and interpret research findings to the public and policymakers.
The center is expanding its portfolio and staff to include policy and strategic planning of transportation’s impact on society. This wider outlook can directly impact rural and underserved communities by conducting research in the areas of education and workforce, equity and access, and rural transit and shared mobility.
“As we start moving towards new mobility paradigms such as autonomous, connected, electric and shared transportation, policy and economic issues involving transportation will only become more complex,” Jones said. “The University is well positioned to show complex, and often competing, issues can be addressed, particularly in the context of rural and small-town Alabama, and use that as a model for doing so elsewhere.”
Jones has served as principal investigator on about $15 million in externally sponsored projects from a range of funding sources and participated in and/or managed more than $2 million in projects as a consultant. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 journal articles, conference papers, design manuals and project reports on a range of transportation topics.
Active internationally, Jones has participated in transportation projects in the United States, Europe, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently serving a two-year stint as a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador for the program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that supports domestic faculty to conduct research and scholarship in more than 130 countries. He also was a Fulbright Scholar in 2019, conducting road safety research at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Jones serves on the advisory board of the World Bank-funded African Center of Excellence as well as the Transport Research and Education Centre Kumasi located at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.
Jones earned his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Virginia in 2001 after graduating from Auburn University with his civil engineering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1992 and 1994, respectively. He originally came to UA in 2005 from The University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he was an assistant research professor. He had previously had engineering roles in private firms and public organizations. After leaving UA in 2007 to take up a consulting position in Europe, Jones returned in 2010 as an associate professor to lead transportation research.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.