Meet the 2021/22 NITC Scholars of Portland State University

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Ten Portland State University students have been awarded National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) scholarships for the 2021/22 academic year. We're very proud to acknowledge their hard work and dedication. The NITC Scholarship program recognizes outstanding students working on transportation projects. Financial support for students helps to develop the workforce by directing talented individuals toward research and practice, raising the number and caliber of graduates in transportation. 

Meet the NITC Scholars of PSU:

Cameron Bennett, Master in Civil & Environmental Engineering

Cameron Bennett is a first-year masters student in transportation engineering. He was the recipient of a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship presented by the U.S. Department of Transportation at the 2022 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, and is also the recipient of a 2021 Walter H. Kramer Scholarship. Cameron currently serves as president of the PSU student group ITE-STEP (Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning). His work as a graduate research assistant focuses on promoting and facilitating the use of active transportation as a tool for equity, livability, and economic development. Cameron is passionate about bicycle and pedestrian design, planning, and policy in urban environments.

Connect with Cameron on LinkedIn and see a poster on How E-Bike Incentives are Used to Expand the Market here.

Darshan Chauhan, Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering

Darshan Chauhan is a Ph.D. Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Graduate Research Assistant at PSU. His doctoral work with Dr. Avinash Unnikrishnan is in the area of freight logistics systems utilizing emerging transportation technologies like UAV/drones and electric freight vehicles. Specifically, his work focuses on planning and real-time resource allocation in such systems using methods like robust optimization and reinforcement learning. He is fascinated by how the field of transportation is an amalgam of various disciplines and is interested in contributing to an area where optimization, data analytics, and civil engineering intersect. He is a student member of INFORMS, ASCE, and ITE. He has served as the Treasurer of STEP, PSU’s ITE student chapter. Recently, he presented work on drone facility locations for emergency medical scenarios in a January 2022 Friday Transportation Seminar.

Connect with Darshan on LinkedIn and see the two posters he presented at TRB 2022: 

Christian Galiza, B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Christian Galiza is a senior in civil engineering. He is the Vice President of Communications for STEP. He enjoys transportation because it's fascinating to think about the relationship between building sustainable infrastructure and transportation planning and its impact on how people move every day.

Connect with Christian on LinkedIn and see a collage showcasing the number of communications materials created during his involvement with ITE-STEP.



Cole Grisham, Ph.D. in Public Affairs

Cole Grisham is a Ph.D. candidate in the Hatfield School of Government and a Transportation Systems Planner with FHWA Western Federal Lands. His work focuses on long range transportation planning, particularly in the areas of regional and intergovernmental policy in the American Northwest. Cole is a certified planner through the American Planning Association and holds a B.A. in Political Science and M.U.P. in Regional Planning from the University of Michigan. His doctoral work focuses on regional planning and policy in Tribal communities. He presented research related to this topic in an October 2021 Friday Transportation Seminar: Transportation Planning in Tribal Communities.

Connect with Cole on LinkedIn and see his paper on Regional Transportation Policy in Alaskan Native Villages here.

Asif Haque, Master of Urban & Regional Planning

Asif Haque is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program and is also pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Transportation. He is a Graduate Research Assistant with PSU, through which he serves the Portland Bureau of Transportation as a Community Service Aide. Asif previously served the Oregon Department of Energy as a Data Visualization Intern and the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability as a Community Service Aide. He is the current Vice President of Finance & Conferences for STEP. In relation to his transportation interests, Asif serves as an Assistant Project Manager for the Portland-based nonprofit Outgrowing Hunger. He earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.S. in Journalism from The University of Kansas. He served as an Undergraduate Research Fellow for The University of Kansas Institute for Policy and Social Research Center for Environmental Policy, focusing on county-level community-driven food security. Asif is broadly interested in how transportation systems and services, particularly public and active transportation, can better facilitate and accommodate people’s access to goods, services, employment, and resources.

Connect with Asif on LinkedIn and see his white paper on the Benefits of Connected Active and Public Transportation Systems here.

Nick Meusch, Master of Urban & Regional Planning

Nick Meusch is a second-year student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program and third-year student in the Graduate Certificate in Transportation program at PSU. Nick is interested in vehicle electrification and the infrastructure needs required for implementation, supporting equitable shared micromobility, and planning and designing active transportation facilities. Nick was recently celebrated along with the other 2021 scholars during the American Public Transportation Association's TRANSform Conference as a 2021 American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) scholarship recipient. Nick currently works as a proposal manager and planner for Elcon Associates, a minority-owned, electrical and systems engineering firm that performs consulting services for transit agencies operating rail transit systems and infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles. Most recently as a planner at Elcon, Nick supported the TriMet Facilities System Master Plan exploring zero-emissions vehicle options for TriMet facilities. As the Events Vice President in ITE-STEP, Nick looks forward to broadening students' professional connections in order to provide a more equitable transportation workforce as well as attracting students in supportive fields such as electrical engineering to participate in the world of transportation.

Connect with Nick on LinkedIn and see their white paper on Planning for America’s Next Fuel Service Station here.

Laurel Priest, Master of Urban & Regional Planning

Laurel Priest is an Urban and Regional Planning graduate student focusing on community engagement and transportation planning. She currently works for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) as a Community Service Aide II. She has also served as a PSU teaching assistant and as a Graduate Research Assistant for TREC, and completed an internship as a community recovery fellow at the Division-Midway Alliance for Community Improvement. As a MURP student in 2021 she worked on a proposal for Reimagining the PSU Campus.

Connect with Laurel on LinkedIn and see a report for the PSU Planning and Sustainability Office for 2021 and 2022. 


Caleb Susuras, Master of Urban & Regional Planning

Caleb Susuras is a first-year MURP student who earned his BA from Ambrose University. He has experience as a voucher specialist with the Denver Regional Council of Governments, and has also worked for the Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council. He is committed to safe, equitable, and green streets.

Connect with Caleb on LinkedIn and see a work sample comparing physical characteristics of Portland’s dangerous intersections.



Mouhamad Taha, B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Mouhamad Taha is a civil engineering student who’s interested in transportation engineering. He is in his junior year and almost done with his first transportation course. Mouhamad is looking forward to specializing in transportation engineering and transportation systems through the pathway program at PSU, which is a combination of bachelor's and master’s degrees in civil engineering. He is interested in highway and infrastructure design, and has always wanted to explore the transportation system in different countries and regions.




Huijun Tan, Ph.D. in Urban Studies

Huijun Tan is a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Studies at Portland State University. Her research interest focuses on transportation planning and equity. Her dissertation looks into equitable accessibility planning among marginalized communities and populations. In the past 5 years, she has been working on research and planning projects relevant to transit-oriented development, active transportation (e.g., crossing safety), transportation incentive program evaluation, and corridor master plan. Before her doctoral program, she had been involved in street improvement in a vulnerable community and innovative agriculture development in food desert communities. Also, she was engaged in some vacant land development and vacant land reuse research projects. The experience ingrains her interest in regional planning and social inequality issues. As a graduate research assistant she has worked with TREC researchers Nathan McNeil and John MacArthur on new ways of connecting traditionally underserved communities to transportation options represented by new technologies. 

Connect with Huijun on LinkedIn and watch her presentation in an April 2021 Friday Transportation Seminar: Evaluation of a Transportation Incentive Program for Affordable Housing Residents.

NITC is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. This PSU-led research partnership also includes the Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Arlington and University of Utah. Faculty committees at each of our partner universities nominate students for the scholarship program. See the NITC scholars from other member campuses.

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and professionals through education.

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