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June 2, 2006
Contact: Jim Roberts, KU Center for Research, (785) 864-7248.

KU names Honea as first director of KU Transportation Research Institute

LAWRENCE — A former director of the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will join the University of Kansas this month as the first director of KU’s new Transportation Research Institute.

Robert Honea

Robert Honea

Robert Honea (pronounced HONE-ee) was at Oak Ridge from 1973 to 2002. As director of its Transportation Technology Center and National Transportation Research Center over a span of eight years, he was responsible for coordinating more than $80 million in research and development work for the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense, the state of Tennessee, private industry and nonprofit organizations.

While at Oak Ridge, Honea also led the effort to build a 85,000-square-foot transportation research facility. It was completed in 2000 and houses 12 research laboratories with more than 200 staff members.

Honea has been a private consultant since 2002 and for the past year, a College of Engineering research associate at the University of Tennessee’s Center for Homeland Security and Counter-Proliferation. Before joining Oak Ridge, he was a faculty member at East Tennessee State University and a consultant for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. His background includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia and a doctorate from the University of Florida.

At KU, Honea will officially report to Jim Roberts, vice provost for research, and will report operationally to Mary Lee Hummert, associate vice provost for research, on a day-to-day basis.

“Bob Honea brings a wealth of transportation research management experience to KU,” said Hummert. “He arrives at the TRI at a time when energy sources, efficient transportation and a cleaner environment are headline issues for our country and the rest of the world. It’s a timely appointment.”

KU’s Transportation Research Institute encompasses a large, diverse and growing program of research, education and outreach. The institute promotes interdisciplinary research on a variety of current transportation issues and their social and environmental consequences. Potential areas of research include road and bridge construction methods, development of alternative-fuel vehicles, efficient fuel cells and the reduction of emissions. Related public policy, economic and legal issues will also be explored through the institute.

In 2005, Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Jerry Moran obtained $14.5 million in federal funding to establish the institute. Stuart Bell, dean of the School of Engineering and a prominent transportation researcher, was instrumental in seeking that appropriation.

“This announcement gives us another opportunity to thank Sen. Roberts and Rep. Moran for their efforts on behalf of KU transportation research,” said Bell. “We’re most grateful.”

Several existing KU research centers will become components of the institute. These include the KU Transportation Center, which oversees the Kansas Local Technical Assistance Program and Kansas Rural Transportation Assistance Program.

“Just as federal funding provides the needed financial support for the TRI, the appointment of Bob Honea brings to it the needed strong leadership,” said KU’s Jim Roberts.

More information about KU’s Transportation Research Institute is available at tri.engr.ku.edu/.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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