Kara Kockelman

Headshot of Dr. Kara KockelmanDr. Kara Kockelman a Professor - William J. Murray Jr. Fellow in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.  She is a registered professional engineer and holds a PhD, MS, and BS in civil engineering, a Masters of City Planning, and a minor in economics from the University of California at Berkeley.


She has received an NSF CAREER Award for faculty research and teaching (2000-2004), a Ford Fund CAREER Award (2002), a U.C. Transportation Center “Student of the Year” Award (1998), U.C. Berkeley’s University Medal (1991), and the NSF and Berkeley Fellowships for graduate study (1993-1998).

In 2002, MIT’s Technology Review Magazine identified her as one of the world’s Top 100 Innovators under age 35, and the Council of University Transportation Centers awarded her its inaugural Young Faculty Award. In 2006, the Regional Science Association International presented her with its Geoffrey J.D. Hewings Award (for exceptional promise as a young regional science researcher). Dr. Kockelman received ASCE’s 2007 Harland Bartholomew Award, to recognize her many transportation planning contributions, including her novel credit-based congestion pricing theory. She also received the Heart of Texas’ Women’s Transportation Seminar’s 2007 Woman of the Year Award and was made a WTSHOT Honorary Member in 2012. In 2010, Dr. Kockelman received ASCE’s Walter L. Huber Research Prize in Transportation Engineering, for contributions in the areas of data acquisition and analysis to facilitate decisions in transport planning and policy-making. Between her undergraduate and graduate studies, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the rural Andean region of Ecuador, managing the construction of potable water systems and other sanitation infrastructure. She continues her public service through her research and interactions with a variety of Austin groups, including student and alumni associations and professional societies. 

Dr. Kockelman's primary research interests include the statistical modeling of urban systems (including models of travel behavior, trade, and location choice), energy and climate issues (vis-à-vis transport and land 49 use decisions), the economic impacts of transport policy, and crash occurrence and consequences. She has taught classes in transportation systems, transport economics, transport data acquisition and analysis, probability and statistics, design of ground-based transportation systems, and geometric design of roadways. For several years, she advised the student chapters of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and EngineersWithout Borders (EWB) at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Kockelman chaired the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Travel Survey Methods committee for three years (2007-2010) and served on the Transportation and Land Development committee for 11 years (1999-2010). She also serves on the organization’s Committee on Transportation Economics, Committee on Statistical Methods, and Integrated Transportation and Land Use Modeling subcommittee. She has been a member of the two National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) panels and one Transit CRP panel, and recently served as a member of the National Research Council’s Committee for the Study on Relationships among Development Patterns, VMT, and Energy Conservation. She sits on the editorial advisory boards of Transportation Research (Part B, Methodological), Journal of Transport and Land Use, Journal of Regional Science, International Regional Science Review, Economics of Transportation and Papers in Regional Science. In 2005, she was elected to the North American Regional Science Council, and in 2009 she chaired the annual North American meetings of the Regional Science Association International. In 2010, Dr. Kockelman was appointed to a three-year term as a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Advisory Council on Transportation Statistics. In 2011, she was appointed to a two-year term on ASCE’s national Awards Committee.

Dr. Kockelman is primary and co-author of over 100 papers across a variety of subjects, all of which involve transportation-related data analysis. She has conducted research for the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Cooperative and Strategic Highway Research Programs, the University Transportation Centers program, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Texas and Oregon Departments of Transportation. Recent and current projects include NSF grants for spatial econometric models of discrete response and studies of plug-in-electric-vehicle ownership and use, an NSF IGERT on the power grid, an NSF RCN on sustainable cities, an EPA STAR grant for land use, transport, and air quality models, NCHRP projects on demand modeling of non motorized travel and tolled roadways, and TxDOT projects for holistic evaluation of competing network improvement projects and the development of a transportation economics reference for practitioners.

Dr. Kockelman's favorite thing about her work is that she gets to chart her own course of study and thus pursue research that she and her students are most passionate about. Her words of advice for current students: "I hope we all will strive to make a very positive difference in our complex communities and across our vulnerable planet. Such motivation translates to far happier and healthier futures, for us & others. Even if a person does not land a job that directly improves the world, the income we make & our extra time can translate into very valuable charitable contributions. One can also join a group like the Peace Corps for a couple years of meaningful activities right after graduation. there are many fabulous ways to learn more about the worls, and its needs." Dr. Kockelman spent 2 years in Ecuador with the Peace Corps!