Impactful Research Award

The Impactful Research Award was not given in 2022

Award Description

The Impactful Research Award shall be given to an individual or team of researchers for a research project that has had the most [relatively recent] impact on bettering the travel analysis field for the public good.

This award shall be considered no less than three years from the publication of the specified work and should have been introduced within the past two decades.

Nominees will be considered by a three-person award committee and forwarded to the Zephyr Board for approval. Awards are made at the TRB Annual Meeting.

2021 Awardee

Congratulations to the 2021 Recipient of the Impactful Research Award: MATSim, for pioneering accessible and credible open-source travel analysis statistical software.

The Multi-Agent Transport Simulation project (MATSim) started with Kai Nagel, who was then at ETH Zürich. He had previously worked on the TRansportation ANalysis and SIMulation System (TRANSIMS) along with a team of physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Kai based the architecture of MATSIM on TRANSIMS and also made the resulting code open-source so that it would be broadly available to transportation researchers. After Kai Nagel left ETH for Berlin in 2004, Kay Axhausen joined the team, bringing a different approach and experience. This resulted in a collaboration which has been successful and productive for a decade and a half, combining a physicist’s and a civil engineer’s perspective, as well as bringing together expertise in traffic flow, large-scale computation, choice modeling and Complex Adaptive Systems. This collaboration has extended to current and former graduate students, academic researchers and consultants across the globe with many model implementations spanning a wide variety of research and applications contexts. These model applications have been greatly assisted by the detailed and well-structured documentation and user support structure that the team has assembled. Their MATSIM user group meeting in March 2021 included presentations on more than a dozen projects involving over 30 researchers and spanning a range of model applications from active transportation to spread of COVID-19. MATSIM has provided the travel demand modeling community with a framework and software modules that are both powerful and eminently usable, creating the type of impactful research for which this Zephyr award is intended.

The 2021 Impactful Research Award Committee was:

  • Thomas Adler, RSG Inc.
  • Suzanne Childress, Puget Sound Regional Council
  • Like Liu, Kittelson & Associates, Inc.
  • Sarah Sun, Federal Highway Administration

Award Recipients

  • 2020: Michel Bierlaire, for Biogeme
  • 2021: Kai Nagel, Kay Axhausen, and all of the MATSim development team