MNTRC Newsletter Vol. 21, Issue 1: Summer 2014

MNTRC welcomes Dr. Karen Philbrick as new Executive Director

by Donna Maurillo, Director of Communications & ITT

Karen Philbrick, PhD

Karen Philbrick, PhD
Executive Director

The Board of Trustees, San Jose State University leaders, researchers, professors, and staff celebrate the selection of Dr. Karen Philbrick to lead the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC) and the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI). Dr. Philbrick assumed the executive directorship on July 1, as Rod Diridon, the Institute's executive director since 1993, shifted to emeritus status. Dr. Philbrick also will continue to fulfill her critically important role as director of research for both agencies, overseeing more than 50 projects currently in process and more than 200 research associates and 150 student research assistants under contract.

Former Secretary Norman Mineta said, “I have never met such a dynamic, young individual possessing the intellect and maturity of Dr. Philbrick. We are all excited to have her assume the leadership of the Mineta Institute team.”

Dr. Philbrick was recruited by MTI five years ago for the challenging  position of MTI research director. Two years later she was promoted to deputy executive director. Previous experience as a counseling and research psychologist, coupled with more recent research administration success, prepared her to transition quickly into leadership at MTI.

Prior to joining the MTI team, Dr. Philbrick was assistant director of the National Center for Intermodal Transportation at the University of Denver where she conducted and guided numerous research projects. For a study on operator fatigue, she interviewed thousands of locomotive engineers and conductors, as well as airline pilots, maritime industry representatives, and truck drivers. Her work was the foundation for an international training seminar “Innovations and Challenges in Intermodal Transportation” delivered in the Philippines and Indonesia. She has been a member of the US delegation of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Transportation Working Group since 2000. More recently, she was appointed by former US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to the US Department of Transportation Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS). In 2013, she was elected to the prestigious Executive Committee of the national Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC).

Dr. Philbrick will work closely with the MNTRC/MTI Board of Trustees, which includes 25 world-class leaders in surface transportation. MTI Trustees Chair Steve Heminger, Executive Director of the San Francisco Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said, “Karen Philbrick represents all that is good in our rapidly emerging younger generation and will do a fine job leading MTI and MNTRC. Her drive for excellence is recognized by all with whom she associates.”

Dr. Philbrick earned her PhD from the University of Denver after earning a BA from California State University, Fresno, and an MA and EdM from Columbia University.

Since arriving at MTI, she has directed the three subcenters and more than 100 principal investigators. She has overseen the competitive selection of 122 new research projects, as well as the publication and distribution of more than 150 peer-reviewed research reports. Emeritus Executive Director Rod Diridon said, “Karen is a collegial mix of competence and tenacity and a charismatic force of nature.¬† She’ll carry MTI to new heights of excellence.”