Story of TOMNET
The story of TOMNET can be traced to the glorious days of the early 1990s when Ram Pendyala was a graduate student working under the supervision of the late Professor Ryuichi Kitamura at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Pat Mokhtarian had just joined the University of California at Davis as an Assistant Professor and Ram had the good fortune of being able to closely interact with Pat and engage in many a spirited conversation about all things traveler behavior and values, attitudes and perceptions, and mobility choice modeling. Many years later, Ram and Pat would get to engage once again in vibrant conversations on these topics after Pat moved to Georgia Tech in August 2013 and Ram served as the Frederick R. Dickerson Chair Professor at Georgia Tech between August 2014 and July 2016. TOMNET was born out of these many conversations. Pat came up with the creative name for the center, and contributed immensely to the development, writing, and preparation of the proposal. With Ram’s expected return to ASU in August 2016, he led the proposal submission effort.
The idea for TOMNET stems from two intersecting and closely related lines of research pursued by Pat and Ram. Both Pat and Ram have dedicated their careers to understanding and modeling human mobility choices under a wide variety of conditions. While Pat has emphasized the collection of rich behavioral and attitudinal data to gain deep insights into underlying relationships and decision processes, Ram has worked intensively on developing new tools for activity-travel demand modeling that incorporate many of the insights gained through fundamental behavioral research such as that carried out by Pat. TOMNET brings these two complimentary streams of research together under the umbrella of a University Transportation Center with a view to explicitly incorporate attitudes, values, perceptions, and lifestyle preferences in activity-travel demand forecasting models. Rather than relegate these variables to the random error term in regression and utility equations, TOMNET aims to provide a means by which these critically important variables can be appropriately measured, predicted, and incorporated in model specifications. The goal is to achieve a quantum leap forward in understanding and forecasting activity-travel demand.
The core TOMNET team consists of individuals with many deep connections and relationships. Professor Cynthia Chen of the University of Washington was Professor Ryuichi Kitamura’s last PhD graduate at the University of California at Davis. During her time at Davis, Cynthia enjoyed a close collaborative relationship with Pat; their paper on travel time budgets is a classic in the field and remains Cynthia’s most highly cited work to date.
Associate Director Deborah Salon, who is currently an Assistant Professor in Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University has her PhD from the University of California at Davis as well. She too interacted with Pat during her time at Davis and worked collaboratively with her on a number of projects. At ASU, Deborah is now pursuing new trans-disciplinary lines of research in collaboration with Ram and others across campus.
Associate Director Abdul Pinjari, who is currently an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida, is an alumnus of that institution. Ram served as Abdul’s Master’s thesis advisor and supervisor at the University of South Florida during 2002-2004. Abdul went on to obtain his PhD under the tutelage of Professor Chandra Bhat at the University of Texas at Austin before returning to USF in 2008 as a transportation faculty member following Ram’s departure to Arizona State University. Abdul has continued to collaborate with Ram on a number of research efforts through the years. Fred Mannering, who currently serves as Associate Dean for Research in Engineering at USF, has enjoyed a close professional relationship with Pat and Ram for many years, and spent a sabbatical year at UC Davis.
While the leadership of the center has a long history of close collaboration, TOMNET aims to engender connections with scholars across a multitude of disciplines through new research and education endeavors that build on the relationships that exist within the TOMNET leadership. TOMNET’s goal is to enhance the state-of-the-art in understanding and modeling traveler behavior and values through a number of data collection and analysis activities, workforce development initiatives, and technology transfer events that integrate trans-disciplinary perspectives. TOMNET welcomes your participation in all of its endeavors.