The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has honored Research Assistant Professor Francis Tainter of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department as a “Young Leader to Follow for 2023.” Tainter received his B.S, M.S, and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from UMass Amherst in 2016, 2018, and 2021, respectively, and his research focuses primarily on traffic operations and safety, with an additional emphasis on human factors.

As ITE explains, “The 2023 Young Leaders to Follow class is comprised of 20 transportation professionals under 35-years-old who have demonstrated leadership and innovation within the transportation industry and ITE…Recipients were chosen from a competitive pool of young professionals based upon their experience, professional successes, and recommendations.”

Tainter has worked on various research projects focused on topics such as crash-data linkage, traffic-signal optimization, and automated-vehicle integration. As he explains, “Through my various internship and research opportunities, [I have] developed a passion for the transportation industry. [I am] looking forward to pursuing a lifelong career dedicated to advancing transportation safety.”

Tainter took over his present CEE position in 2021. Previously, he had served as a postdoctoral researcher in the CEE department after earning his Ph.D. from UMass Amherst in 2021.

Prior to his current position, Tainter served in high-profile internships in which he developed and managed original research projects with state and federal funding sources. One of those was with the Office of Infrastructure - Major Projects Team of the Federal Highway Administration in the Metro Area of Washington, D.C.

As Tainter says, “I was tasked to take the lead on developing the Lessons Learned Program for the Major Projects team. In doing so, I coordinated with project managers from across the country to discuss the best practices and lessons learned for projects that received over $500 million in federal-funding support throughout their project duration.”

In another internship, Tainter worked for the Office of Program Management & Oversight at the Federal Transit Administration in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he assisted in the review of grant proposals and reports while developing a transportation policy manuscript on motorcycle helmet laws in the United States.

Among the honors and awards won by Tainter, he has received: a Dwight D. Eisenhower Fellowship, as issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration; a Connecticut Student Scholarship awarded by the Connecticut Chapter of the ITE; two Thomas E. Desjardins Memorial Scholarships from the New England Section of the ITE; and a Boyer Engineering Scholarship from UMass Amherst.

Tainter has also been extremely active in the ITE. As an academic faculty member, Tainter serves as an advisor for the UMass Amherst ITE student chapter and previously served in the Junior Director and Senior Director roles within the New England Section ITE Board. With the recent ITE organizational restructuring, he was elected as the Massachusetts State Director within the newly created Southeastern New England ITE section.

Tainter has also participated in the ITE Education Council and was recently added to the Traffic Bowl Reimagined Task Force, which focuses on advancing extracurricular opportunities for student members. Additionally, he has participated in Local Arrangement Committees for several Northeastern District Meetings, contributing to program and website initiatives. (July 2023)

Article posted in Faculty