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Their expertise in studying railroads has helped bring the work of UT’s Center for Transportation Research to a national audience.

Now the center’s experts themselves are gaining notice.

Mingzhou JinMingzhou Jin, who was recently named one of the center’s fellows for 2015–16, has been invited to join On Track North America, a nonprofit think tank devoted to maximizing the potential of rail transportation within the continent.

“There is a great need to look at rail transportation and evaluate ways in which we can improve this very vital part of our economy,” said Jin, who also serves as a professor and associate head of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “We need to look at everything from costs and benefits of our railways to the framework and infrastructure itself.”

For its part, On Track North America sees the potential to collaborate with a member of the Center for Transportation Research as a chance to bring a fresh view to its mission of rail improvement and sustainability.

“It’s our mission to bridge these gaps and enable us to make better decisions, with broader positive social impact, in a timelier manner,” said Michael Sussman, president and founder of On Track North America. “Jin’s efforts will help us formulate and refine our National Transportation Lifecycle Costs and Benefits Project.”

On Track North America’s main areas of focus include

  • Promoting collaboration between industries, government, and communities
  • Reversing the decline of direct rail service
  • Expanding investment in rail transportation
  • Studying new freight transportation ideas that balance logistics with the optimization of all modes of transport

The pairing is a natural move for Jin, whose research focuses on transportation optimization and logistics, and who serves as director of the Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain Engineering Lab.

“There are some growing concerns facing transportation in this country,” said Jin. “Being able to come together with On Track North America and work through some of those issues is a great opportunity, and one I take very seriously.”


David Goddard (865-974-0683,