Associate Professor
Hampton K. and Margaret Frye Snell Endowed Chair in Transportation

My work critically engages with transportation planning practice to achieve progress towards equity and justice. A deep commitment to practice and community engagement undergirds my research and teaching; I collaborate with community members, non-profit organizations, and public interest law firms to identify pressing research needs and improve conditions in communities experiencing transportation disadvantage.

The overarching goal of my work is to identify areas where current planning and modeling practices fall short and demonstrate the power of alternative approaches. I conduct research on:

  • accessibility: quantifying how easily people can reach the destinations they need to lead a meaningful and dignified life
  • civil rights and environmental justice: helping agencies and advocates conduct analyses that reflect the true impacts of transportation projects and plans on low-income people and Black, Indigenous, and people of color populations
  • travel demand modeling: incorporating critical elements of identity (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender) and individual experiences (e.g., feelings of safety and security) into dominant transportation modeling frameworks
  • community engagement: identifying and evaluating engagement efforts to strengthen the link between a community’s input and the ultimate decisions that are made

To complete this work, I use mixed methods and draw upon my training in civil engineering, transportation planning, and history.

Prior to joining the faculty at UT Austin, I was an assistant professor at Georgia Tech. I previously held postdoctoral research positions in the Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics at Universidad Católica de Chile and the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. My work has been funded by Canadian federal funding agencies (the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), non-profit foundations (Democracy Fund and the California Endowment), the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Transit Administration, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the Transit Cooperative Research Program, and university transportation centers at UC Davis, the University of Maryland, and Texas.

Education

  • University of California, Davis - PhD (Civil and environmental engineering)
  • University of Toronto - BASc (Civil engineering)
photo of Alex Karner
  • public transportation
  • accessibility
  • environmental justice
  • mobility justice
  • civil rights
  • geographic information science
  • spatial analysis
  • climate change