Snell Scholars


The Center for Sustainable Development administers the Hampton K. and Margaret Frye Snell Endowed Chair in Transportation on behalf of the School of Architecture to fund cutting-edge transportation research. Snell grants to faculty provide seed funding or matching funds for multidisciplinary and collaborative research endeavors. Research projects that receive preferential consideration from the Snell endowment support student researchers, leverage matching funds from other studies, and culminate with scholarly publications.


Principal Investigator: Ming Zhang

Title of study: The potential impacts of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill on local economies and megaregional disparity: Case study of the Texas Triangle

Abstract: President Biden recently signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Job bill (also known as Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill) into law. The law authorizes $550 billion in new federal spending on transportation, broadband, and utility infrastructure. What are the potential economic impacts of the federal infrastructure investments? How may the infrastructure spending and its impacts affect spatial inequality, closing or widening the development gaps between urban and rural counties and between large metropolitan areas and small-/medium-sized communities? Through a case study of the Texas Triangle megaregion, this research applies Computable General Equilibrium (GEM) modeling and Multi-Regional Input-Output modeling to answer the two questions, respectively. Findings from the research will shed light on the effectiveness of infrastructure investments for stimulating economic development and reducing regional disparities. Local, regional, and state agencies can also be informed by the research findings to take actions to maximize the efficiency and equity outcome from federal spending.   

Principal Investigator: Alex Karner

Title of study: Towards Meaningful Accessibility Measures Using Mixed Methods

Abstract: Measures and metrics that describe transportation system performance must reflect the experiences of individual travelers to be meaningful, but existing measures fall short of this goal. In this project, I will combine quantitative and qualitative approaches to radically expand existing performance measures so that they encompass feelings of safety and security when traveling. This expansion will help to more closely tailor transportation system performance measurement to the experiences of Black people, people with disabilities, transgender people, and others who routinely experience harassment and violence while traveling.




  • Understand Houston’s growth patterns and trends with SLEUTH modeling, Ming Zhang
  • Major Public Transit Expansion Plans and Transportation Equity, Alex Karner
  • Predicting Cyclist and Pedestrian Exposure to Air Pollution with Lightweight Sensors, Junfeng Jiao


  • Patterns and drivers of urban expansions in the Texas Triangle: Case study of the Austin metropolitan region, Ming Zhang
  • Bus Network Redesigns and Transportation Equity, Alex Karner


  • Estimating the Direct, Indirect, and Induced Effects of Constructing High-Speed Rail Lines in the Texas Triangle, Ming Zhang
  • Understanding E-Scooter Usage in Austin, TX, Junfeng Jiao
  • Increasing Access to High-Quality Education Through a Free Youth Transit Pass, Alex Karner


  • Challenges to and opportunities for cycling in small cities in metropolitan suburbs of Texas, Ming Zhang
  • Providing Sufficient Transportation Access: A Literature Review, Alex Karner
  • Can Tax Increment Finance Support Transit Improvements? Evaluating Provisions of State Enabling Legislation and Policy in the U.S, Gian Claudia Sciara
  • Understanding the Health Impact of Living in Transit Deserts in Major Texas Cities, Junfeng Jiao