Message From Dr. Doug Kreis, Director

In 2016, the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) went through the process of reinventing its marketing vision, adopting the slogan Excellence in Motion. In 2020, trying to meet the demands of that slogan tested our staff to a degree which none of us could have envisioned. Like government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations around the world, the covid-19 pandemic forced the Center to rethink and transform its research practices and operations to keep staff safe, healthy, and actively engaged in their research initiatives. In March 2020, staff found themselves having to navigate a completely virtual work environment. Meetings, collaborations, and trainings that once took place in person were now confined to computer screens and conference calls. Despite the challenges associated with this transition, KTC’s program managers, principal investigators, technology transfer specialists, and administrative staff all responded admirably and gracefully as they quickly adapted to these new circumstances and worked diligently to ensure the Center upheld its commitment to deliver high-quality research and unsurpassed technical assistance. I am extremely proud of our collective accomplishments. They exemplify the unwavering professionalism of the Center’s over 100 full- and part-time staff.

Also in 2020, our Center was awarded over $9 million in external funding. KTC continues to serve as the primary research partner of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, with whom we enjoy a secure partnership that has continued to flourish — even more so over the past five years. KTC continued to grow its national reputation as researchers also worked on projects for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and US Department of Transportation. Our Technology Transfer program reached over 6,500 students throughout 2020, a marvelous feat given the rapid transition to online course delivery. Our commitment to excellence and our pursuit of delivering timely research and knowledge that can improve performance and resiliency of infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth and beyond is why KTC’s future is as promising as it has ever been – despite the challenges of the past year. During the pandemic of 2020 research never paused at KTC. It was transformed.

What does 2021 have in store for our Center? With the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic beginning to wane and most staff likely to receive vaccinations by late spring, we eagerly anticipate a return to campus. While virtual work has modified the rhythms of our professional lives, and we expect hybrid, flexible working arrangements to endure, we look forward to more routine in-person conversations and teamwork — among staff, with our research clients, and at our technical assistance course offerings. The new normal that KTC will navigate in the coming months and years is not yet fully mapped out. But our core commitments to producing innovative research and technology transfer are as strong as ever. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, the Center will continue to build a welcoming and inclusive environment consistent with UK’s far-reaching efforts to foster diversity and equity. KTC will continue to build upon and strategically enhance a professional workforce that is both reflective of and responsive to our community. Realizing this goal is critical to ensuring the Center retains its position as Kentucky’s hub for transportation research while advancing opportunities at the national level and beyond.

I am excited for what the future has in store. To reiterate what I tell our staff whenever the opportunity arises, the future of the Kentucky Transportation Center has never been brighter. The professionalism exhibited by KTC’s staff during the past year has strengthened this belief, as is evident from their collective performance this year. Our staff proved they can thrive under the most adverse circumstances, and their resilience, coupled with the ample opportunities on the road ahead, guarantee that KTC will continue to strive for Excellence in Motion.