The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees has named Professor Michael Knodler Jr. of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) to the William W. Boyer Endowed Professorship. Knodler is the inaugural holder of this professorship.

The College of Engineering was able to establish the professorship as a result of the generosity of the late Edward C. Gray, a 1973 alumnus of CEE, who supported the professorship with his endowment gift of $1.5 million. Gray passed away in 2021 and, in his will, endowed the professorship in honor of his favorite professor, William W. Boyer, who was a central figure in the early development of the UMass Transportation Engineering Program.

The purpose of the fund is to help retain and support outstanding faculty who have made significant contributions to the academic reputation of the College and the performance of its students through activities such as nationally recognized research, appointment to professional association leadership posts, providing student experiential education opportunities, and cross-school or cross-campus collaborations.

Knodler, whose research expertise is in transportation safety, operations, design, and education, has certainly made such contributions since joining the faculty in 2005. In addition to serving as a Professor in the Transportation Engineering Program within CEE, he serves as the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs for the College of Engineering, the Director of the UMass Transportation Center, and the Associate Director of the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory.

The UMass Transportation Center (UMTC) works with state, federal, and industrial agencies to promote research and education. The UMTC collaborates closely with MassDOT to deliver transportation innovation here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Recently the UMTC team was selected to lead the New England Region 1 consortium—one of 10 regional university transportation centers—for the U.S. Department of Transportation under a five-year, $15 million grant. The consortium will focus on promoting transportation safety and equity through smart infrastructure development and community engagement, as well as research into the transportation needs of underserved communities, automated vehicles, and more. Knodler has served as the Director of the UMass Transportation Center since 2014.

The Human Performance Lab, meanwhile, focuses on younger drivers, older drivers, driver training programs, roadway design, and the impact of increasingly autonomous vehicles. The lab makes use of driving simulators, virtual reality headsets, eye trackers, physiological monitoring equipment, and more while conducting its cutting-edge research.  

Reflecting on his new appointment, Knodler remarked: “I am extremely honored and humbled to have been appointed to the inaugural William W. Boyer Endowed Professorship. Professor Boyer’s legacy in helping to establish the Transportation Engineering Program at UMass has created a pathway for the many researchers and students that have been affiliated with this program over the years is inspiring. I am excited about the opportunities to expand our ongoing efforts as a result of Boyer Professorship. I am so thankful to Ned Gray for his generous and thoughtful gift to the UMass community.”

Knodler is active with the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). He has been a member of the Traffic Control Devices Committee and the Highway Safety Workforce Development Subcommittee, and has been the Chair of ITE’s Northeastern District as well as its Education Council. He was awarded the James L. Tighe teaching award in 2011 and 2019 and was selected as the College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher in 2013. In 2015 and 2023, he was awarded the Civil Engineering Outstanding Researcher Award, and in 2022 received as the College of Engineering Outstanding Senior Faculty Award.

Knodler received his PhD in Civil Engineering (Transportation Engineering) from UMass Amherst in 2004, his MS in Civil Engineering from UMass Amherst in 2002, and his BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UMass Dartmouth in 1999.

His appointment as the William W. Boyer Endowed Professor officially begins on July 1st.

(June 2023)

Article posted in Faculty