Prof. Gartner Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Contributions to Transportation Science Recognized

Prof. Nathan Gartner, center, with M. Grazia Speranza, chair of the Robert Herman Award Committee, and Patrick Jaillet, president of the Transportation Science and Logistics Society and former chair of the Civil Engineering Department at MIT, in Charlotte, N.C., in November.

Prof. Nathan Gartner, center, with M. Grazia Speranza, chair of the Robert Herman Award Committee, and Patrick Jaillet, president of the Transportation Science and Logistics Society and former chair of the Civil Engineering Department at MIT, in Charlotte, N.C., in November.

12/05/2011
By Edwin L. Aguirre

Prof. Nathan Gartner, former chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, recently received the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science for his pioneering contributions to the field.

The award, given at most every second year by the Transportation Science and Logistics Society of INFORMS, the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science, recognizes an individual “who throughout his or her professional career has made fundamental and sustained contributions to transportation science and logistics and has influenced the field through his or her writings, teaching, service and nurturing of younger professionals.”

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by one’s peers and to join a distinguished list of individuals who were awarded such honor in the past,” says Gartner. “Two of the four previous U.S. winners are members of the National Academy of Engineering and all foreign awardees are prominent scientists in their respective countries — the U.K., Canada, Germany and Italy. Furthermore, I feel it is an honor for UMass Lowell to join a distinguished list of top universities recognized for their outstanding research and educational achievements in the transportation field.”

“Prof. Gartner has been at the forefront of transportation science research for the past 40 years, since he completed his doctoral dissertation at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in 1970,” says Marguerite Zarrillo, a UMass Dartmouth physics professor who nominated him for the award. “Most of all, he educated, mentored and guided scores of undergraduate and graduate students in transportation and traffic theory and practice.”

She cites among Gartner’s numerous contributions — which today are standard textbook material — the development of the first Link Performance Function for traffic network control and for traffic assignment, the excess-demand concept and method in elastic-demand assignment, the MITROP, MAXBAND and MULTIBAND programs for traffic signal optimization in arterial streets and in large-scale arterial networks and the “rolling horizon” concept for traffic-adaptive control and estimation.

“These concepts have found widespread application in transportation science and in traffic engineering throughout the world,” says Zarrillo.

Gartner’s award, which consists of a plaque, a check for $750 and a citation in the society’s website, is named after Robert Herman, one of the leading American scientists of the 20th century. It was presented at a ceremony during the annual meeting of INFORMS in Charlotte, N.C. in November.

“As a physicist, Herman was hired by General Motors Research Laboratories in the 1950s, where he established the field of traffic science and paved the way for future scientists such as myself,” says Gartner. “He founded the Transportation Science Section of ORSA, a forerunner of INFORMS, and Transportation Science, the leading journal in its field. He also founded the International Symposia on Transportation and Traffic Theory, the leading venue for transportation scientists to this date.”