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The new Graduate Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility is a first at U of T - but donor Michael W. Roschlau has a history of giving

Above: Dr. Michael W. Roschlau (photo supplied).

Roschlau aims to encourage inspirational research to inform future public policy

A gift from Michael W. Roschlau, PhD, U of T alumnus and former President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, has established the first-ever Graduate Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility at the University of Toronto.

"The vision behind the new fellowship is to move environmental and economic sustainability, and social equity, in the right direction for a better quality of urban life," says Roschlau.

The University of Toronto Mobility Network announced the launch of the new fellowship earlier this month. The new $5,000 scholarship is aimed at graduate students who are passionate about research related to sustainable urban mobility. The fellowship will be offered annually for a period of five years. Applications for 2023-2024 are currently open.

The goals of the Roschlau Graduate Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility are to stimulate innovative applied research, to inform public policy and to assist a student in pursuing their field of study. Recipients will produce a policy paper on their research and share their findings at a public seminar organized by Mobility Network.

Professor Eric Miller, Director of Mobility Network, says that student scholarship awards are important in two ways: first, in encouraging and supporting innovative student research; and second, in developing the highly-qualified personnel who will solve the future problems of our society.

head shot of Dr. Eric Miller
Dr. Eric Miller, Director, Mobility Network

"Graduate students are the lifeblood of university research. Scholarships such as the Roschlau scholarship are invaluable in attracting and retaining high-quality students," says Miller. "The investment by the Roschlau family is particularly welcome as a very tangible investment in growing Mobility Network’s training and mentorship program."

Students will undoubtedly play an important role in shaping the world’s future. By engaging with sustainable mobility research, they will develop the knowledge and ability to improve the sustainability of our transportation systems.

head shot of Dr. Judy Farvolden (photo: Jenna Muirhead)
Dr. Judy Farvolden, Managing Director, Mobility Network

"Dr. Roschlau’s objectives in establishing this new fellowship align perfectly with Mobility Network’s mission to address the global challenge of advancing sustainable urban mobility solutions," says Dr. Judy Farvolden, Managing Director of Mobility Network. "Mobility Network believes that significant challenges require an interdisciplinary approach. The fellowship is open to graduate students in almost any discipline who are pursuing research related to sustainable urban mobility."

"Roschlau’s career has been dedicated to building support for sustainable mobility. Mobility Network is very grateful that he chose to continue his legacy with the Roschlau Graduate Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility," says Farvolden.

"This graduate fellowship is a way of giving back and encouraging future generations to expand our collective knowledge and expertise in an ever-changing field," says Roschlau.

In the hope that it may inspire others, Roschlau kindly agreed to share some details of his personal journey and motivation to philanthropy. Read on!


A spark of curiosity leads Roschlau to a visionary career in transportation

"As a child, I was fascinated by moving objects, and it kindled my early interest in transportation," says Roschlau

He credits his undergraduate degree program in geography at U of T with inspiring him toward a lifelong career devoted to public transit and urban mobility.

He says, "The contributions I hoped to make had underlying pillars of effectiveness, efficiency and innovation in a search for a better quality of urban life, environmental and economic sustainability as well as social equity."

Roschlau went on to post-graduate studies in Vancouver and Australia before enjoying a thirty-year long career at CUTA supporting education, training, research, information sharing and investment in sustainable urban transport.

He says, "During my time at the Canadian Urban Transit Association we maintained a relentless focus on service quality and the customer. We created Transit Vision 2040, a generational vision which has become a national blueprint for public transit development across Canada. We championed a paradigm shift, broadening the scope of traditional public transit to embrace integrated urban mobility and new technology."

Roschlau's history of giving to U of T begins with tribute to late father

Roschlau says, "My father was a professor of pharmacology at U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and was heavily involved in research, teaching and the development of instructional materials. He co-wrote an influential textbook that was translated into numerous languages and adopted by universities around the world.

"After his passing in 2011, I co-created, with Dr. Harold Kalant, the Dr. Walter Roschlau Memorial Award in Pharmacology in his honour. This award has recognized 19 outstanding students since its inception and promises to support two additional students every year in perpetuity."

A desire to support research in his own field finds "a home" at Mobility Network

"Once my father’s memorial award was fully endowed in 2022, my attention turned to areas closer to my own academic interest, which planted the seeds for the Roschlau Graduate Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility.

"I am delighted that the Mobility Network has agreed to support the idea and give it a home.

"The value of the Mobility Network is that is acts as a locus to bring together parallel and intersecting pursuits in urban mobility from all fields and disciplines."

"The coronavirus pandemic upended much of the conventional and evolving thought around patterns of urban mobility,” says Roschlau. “New and ground-breaking concepts and ideas need to be developed."

"It is my hope that this award will attract a broad range of interest and serve to encourage inspirational research in valuable areas of applied academic enquiry to inform future public policy."


Short biography of Michael W. Roschlau

Michael W. Roschlau is a strategic adviser in the field of public transit and urban mobility. His career has been dedicated to promoting efficient and effective public transit, most recently as President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA). During his 29 years at CUTA, Michael became known as a strong advocate for public transit, initiating a highly successful government relations profile.  He maintained a relentless focus on service quality and was instrumental in creating Transit Vision 2040 - a generational vision which has become a national blueprint for transit development in Canada. Michael championed a paradigm shift at CUTA, broadening the scope of traditional public transit to embrace integrated urban mobility and new technology. He also pioneered a comprehensive training and professional development curriculum, elements of which have been adopted by public transit agencies worldwide.

Dozens of municipal councils and corporate boards passed resolutions adopting Transit Vision 2040 as their guiding document for transit development, and public transit rose to become a high priority for the federal government as well as provinces and municipalities across Canada.

Since his retirement from CUTA in 2015, Michael has acted as strategic adviser to the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), the Canadian Transit Heritage Foundation and Vicinity Motor Corp.

He holds a PhD in transport geography from the Australian National University, as well as a Master of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

Above: Mobility Network's director, Professor Eric Miller (centre) with Tecnológico de Monterrey visitors Professor Roberto Ponce López (left) and Dr. Gonzalo Peraza (right) at U of T workshop, March 22, 2023. (Photo: Pat Doherty).

Professor Roberto Ponce López and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Gonzalo Peraza of Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico arrived in Toronto on March 21, 2023 for a three-day visit to University of Toronto Mobility Network hosted by Director Professor Eric Miller.

During their visit they tapped into Mobility Network expertise to adapt the GTAModel to improve long-term transportation planning in Monterrey and AM.

Ponce López and Peraza participated in several Mobility Network events, including an infrastructure workshop led by Professor Shoshanna Saxe, and several training and technical sessions led by Mobility Network's Travel Modelling Group.

Topics included GTAModel, population synthesis, network modelling, and ILUTE (Integrated Land Use, Transportation, Environment).

The visitors also enjoyed a University of Toronto campus tour and several social events with faculty, researchers, and staff.

Translated from Spanish by Google: We concluded a successful week of work in @UofT with @UofTMobilityNet. We are making progress in generating a model to obtain information that allows us to make long-term decisions for mobility in Monterrey and AM. Thanks to @ConsejoNL and @FundacionFEMSA for their support.
Congratulations ribbon banner

Congratulations to Dr. Gaurav Mittal, the recipient of a Centre for Urban Environments (CUE) Research Award.

Dr. Mittal is a postdoctoral fellow at UTM Mobility Network supervised by Professor Shauna Brail.

The title of Mittal's proposed research is "Political Economy of Low-Carbon Mobility Transitions in Small Cities in India."

The project investigates the political economy of low-carbon transitions in shared mobilities in Amritsar, a small city in northern India. Relying on semi-structured interviews with government officials and transport operators, the project seeks to understand: What impacts has the government’s push towards electrification of shared mobility vehicles had on their operation? And how is the government accommodating the vehicle-operators’ concerns in its push towards a sustainable future?

As part of this award, Mittal will travel to Amritsar, India in summer 2023 to conduct research.

The UTM Mobility Network is calling for applications to support a range of UTM Mobility Network faculty-led initiatives (up to a maximum of $10,000 per project). While the lead applicant must be based at UTM, priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate interdisciplinary and/or cross-campus collaboration between two or more Mobility Network faculty members.

Funds can be used for research costs, such as:

  • Hiring student research assistants to support mobility-related research
  • Purchasing mobility-related data for research and dissemination purposes
  • Working with grant writers on mobility-related funding applications for Summer/ Fall 2023
  • Preparing professional reports and/or digital materials that can be used to promote mobility-related research
  • Other research funding needs / ideas – you are encouraged to submit any proposal that serves a mobility-related research funding need

To apply for this funding, please send a 1-page proposal + budget with the following details:

  • Name of PI (must be a UTM-based Mobility Network faculty member) + any other collaborators and their affiliations
  • Title of Project
  • Brief description of overall research 
  • Description of how the UTM Mobility Network funds will contribute to this research
  • Expected Outputs / Outcomes
  • Timeline
  • Budget Details + indicate whether any additional funds are in place to support this work

Send proposals to: gaurav.mittal@utoronto.ca by April 28th. Funding decisions will be announced by the end of May.

Mobility Network is pleased to launch the Spring 2023 edition of our popular discussion series, The Way Forward, bringing a variety of perspectives to bear on important issues in mobility.

All sessions take place on Tuesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. online, are free, and all are welcome. Registration is required for each session.

An introductory overview will be followed by short presentations, a moderated panel discussion, and audience Q & A. Sessions will be recorded and shared.


Past sessions

JUNE 13 - Tackling our legendary congestion with ITS and transit

Baher Abdulhai, U of T | Tim LaChapelle, Parsons | Amer Shalaby, U of T | Judy Farvolden, U of T (moderator)

MAY 30 - Getting mobility to Net Zero

Steve Easterbrook, U of T | Olivier Trescases, U of T | Dianne Zimmerman, City of Mississauga | Marianne Hatzopoulou, U of T (moderator)

MAY 16 - Moving and housing multitudes in the Toronto region

Nate Baum-Snow, U of T | Derek Goring, Northcrest | Tara Vinodrai, U of T | Chris Higgins, U of T (moderator)

MAY 2 - Considering access, ethics and practice of data in mobility policies

Alberto Leon-Garcia, U of T | Gaurav Mittal, U of T | Jue Wang, U of T | Bree McEwan, U of T (moderator)

APRIL 18 - Safeguarding reliable, sustainable supply chains

Daniel Posen, U of T | Dianne Saxe, City of Toronto councillor | Adam Thorn, Pembina Institute | John Robinson, U of T (moderator)

APRIL 4 - Adapting to changing travel behaviour in the post-COVID city

Iain Dobson, SRRA | Khandker Nurul Habib, U of T | Wendy Reuter, TTC | Eric Miller, U of T (moderator)

Download The Way Forward Spring 2023 Series Flyer

View the 2022 edition of The Way Forward

With the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, car-related air pollution will be less of a concern, right? Think again, say a group of University of Toronto researchers who are studying the effects of air pollution from brakes and tires. 

While the push to mandate EV aims to reduce tailpipe emissions such as carbon dioxide – the federal government has set a target of complete EV adoption by 2035 – swapping every vehicle on the road still won’t eliminate all the sources of air pollution that can impact human health.

That's because brake pads, rotors and tires grind down over time and erode. This results in tons of particulate matter like heavy metals and microplastics polluting the air. 

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Professor Matthew Adams

"Millions of tires being driven on the road breaking down –that’s a problem," says Matt Adams, an assistant professor in U of T Mississauga’s department of geography, geomatics and environment.  "It’s an emerging question in the field – it’s hard to know where the particles end up."  

Adams and Greg Evans, a professor of chemical engineering and applied chemistry in U of T's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, belong to a team of U of T researchers who are conducting a three-year study, "Improved Characterization of the Real-World Contributions and Impacts of Non-tailpipe Particulate Matter Emissions," to learn more about tailpipe vs. non-tailpipe emissions. The study is for a U.S.-based organization called the Health Effects Institute, which gathers research on the effects of air pollution. Other researchers include: Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou and Associate Professor Arthur Chan in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; Associate Professor Meredith Franklin in the department of statistical sciences in the Faculty of Arts & Science; and McGill University's Scott Weichenthal and University of Barcelona visiting professor Maria Pérez. 

Evans says the source of vehicle pollution has shifted in recent years.  

"Because of changes in vehicle technology, tailpipe emissions particularly from cars has dropped off a lot over the last two decades," Evans says. "What we found with research we’ve done in Toronto is that, since 2013, non-tailpipe emissions have exceeded tailpipe emissions."

While tires are made from a combination of plastics and rubber, brakes are made of heavy metals, including iron, barium and copper. 

Particles of heavy metals, microplastics and micro rubber from tires and brakes pollute the air and can contribute to a range of negative health outcomes. Some heavy metals like copper can cause oxidative stress when inhaled. Lungs suffer from inflammation and an immune response is triggered. 

"There is not an organ in your body that’s not impacted by air pollution," Adams says. "We know your health risk is increased. We know a lot of these pollutants are carcinogens. [It] can contribute to cardiorespiratory issues." 

Evans says the researchers hope the study will improve methods of gathering vehicle pollution data.

"At the end of it, we’re hoping to have better methods to able say how much is coming from tailpipe and how much is non-tailpipe, and how do we identify hot spots," he says. 

The findings could potentially result in regulations for tire and brake emissions. In late 2022, the EU proposed new Euro 7 standards to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality. The new proposals were the first worldwide emissions standards to set additional limits for emissions from tires and brakes. 

Greg Evans, a professor of chemical engineering and applied chemistry, says his research shows that non-tailpipe emissions have exceeded tailpipe emissions in Toronto since 2013 (supplied photo)

Adams says there are additional considerations when switching over to EVs, including the source of electric power, lithium sourcing and related infrastructure. 

"We’re trying to translate the links of how and where you are in the urban environment to your exposure [to air pollution], and then using that to plan cities better for our health," Adams says. 

Planning more healthy cities means building urban areas where people can walk, cycle and take public transit in addition to adopting EVs. 

"Air pollution is tricky," Adams says. "It’s invisible for the most part –we don’t smell it. We’re trying to quantify the intangible for the average person."

This story by Ali Raza was originally posted by U of T News, March 16, 2023.

The Mobility Network is offering a new graduate fellowship in sustainable urban mobility.  The goals of the Roschlau Graduate Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility are to stimulate innovative applied research, to inform public policy and to assist a student in pursuing their field of study.

This award is made possible through a generous donation from Michael W. Roschlau, U of T alumnus and former President & CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

The successful candidate will undertake primary research on their chosen topic from September 2023 to April 2024.

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive this award, you must be registered as a full-time graduate student, at a doctoral or master’s level, at the University of Toronto and must be pursuing research related to sustainable urban mobility in architecture, business, economics, engineering, geography, planning, political science, or related fields. 

Your research interests should incorporate innovative concepts and be relevant to current public policy or practice. Potential research themes could include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

  • Public transit expansion and investment
  • Public transit operations
  • Active transportation
  • Integrated urban mobility
  • New technology for sustainable urban mobility
  • Urban development and land use-transport interaction

The holder of the award is required to produce a policy paper and to present their research at a seminar organized by Mobility Network. The support received from the Roschlau Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility must be acknowledged in all presentations and publications.

Amount

The award recipient will receive CAD$5,000, paid in two equal instalments, one in September and one in January. The Roschlau Fellowship in Sustainable Urban Mobility may be held in conjunction with any other award.

Length and Residency

The residency of this award is from September 2023 to May 2024.  The holder of this fellowship must be in residence in Toronto to permit full participation in various events and seminars offered by the Mobility Network throughout the academic year.

Application materials

Interested applicants must submit

  1. A maximum 1-page (single spaced, 12-point font) project proposal that includes an outline of the research idea and how it is connected to your program of study/professional experience.
  2. A 300-word personal reflection on why you are the ideal candidate for this award.
  3. A complete and up-to-date resume.

Applications will be accepted until 4:00 p.m. on Friday April 28th, 2023.

Please send your complete application package by email to:

Material from your Faculty Supervisor

Please request a 1-2 paragraph letter of recommendation from your faculty supervisor that includes an assessment of both the proposed research and future research promise. Please ask your supervisor to send this recommendation should be sent directly to Mobility Network at mobilitynetwork@utoronto.ca.

Decisions will be announced in late May 2023.

Questions?

Email us at mobilitynetwork@utoronto.ca.

Above: Professor Baher Abdulhai (top row centre) at the Gateway to Growth Summit's breakout session "Tackling Congestion: Smart Infrastructure in the Zone," March 6, 2023. (Photo supplied by Toronto Region Board of Trade).

Professor Baher Abdulhai took part in the Toronto Region Board of Trade's Gateway to Growth Summit on March 6, 2023. He presented "Tackling Congestion with Intelligence" at the panel session entitled "Tackling Congestion: Smart Infrastructure in the Zone."

The session considered the question "What best-in-class smart infrastructure investments can help solve the crippling transportation gridlock resulting in huge costs and delays in getting products to market, choking the region’s growth potential?"

Abdulhai was joined on the panel by panelist Juan Pablo Bastida, Vice President, Public Sector, Geotab, and moderator Phinjo Gombu, Director, Economic Blueprint Institute, Toronto Region Board of Trade.

He gave a brief overview before discussing the universal cause of congestion: the demand for road capacity exceeding supply. He noted that Toronto is currently the seventh worst city in the world for congestion.

He discussed the typical solutions to congestion—reducing road capacity demand or increasing supply—before highlighting the use of intelligence to reduce congestion.

Abdulhai concluded with several promising smart applications that have the potential to reduce delays and total time spent in traffic by 20-50%:

  1. Adaptive Traffic Control using RL (deep reinforcement learning)
    • Traffic Signals for Streets
    • Ramp Metering and Dynamic Speed Control for Freeways with RL
    • AV Headway Control with RL
  2. Dynamic Congestion Pricing: using Genetic Algorithms
  3. AVs for First and Last Mile

About the Gateway to Growth Summit

The Gateway to Growth Summit was a full-day event featuring expert presentations and discussion, presented by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and sponsored by Scotiabank and University of Toronto.

The area surrounding Pearson International Airport - the Pearson Economic Zone - is the second largest employment zone in Canada and the Gateway to Growth for our region. Home to a significant concentration of firms in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, logistics and warehousing, ‘The Zone’ sits at the heart of a network of highways, rail lines, and international goods movement, making its success vital to our economy and global competitiveness.

However, the Zone’s true potential remains untapped, restricted by transit availability for workers, road congestion, scarcity of employment lands, underinvestment in advanced manufacturing, and a lack of coordinated planning.

Toronto Region Board of Trade Gateway to Growth Summit
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