CTS names new director

Laurie McGinnis has worked at the center for the past 18 years.

The new director of  the Center for Transportation Studies Laurie McGinnis attends a meeting Friday in the Transportation and Safety Building.

Mark Vancleave

The new director of the Center for Transportation Studies Laurie McGinnis attends a meeting Friday in the Transportation and Safety Building.

by Danielle Nordine

After an extensive four-month search, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies has named its new director.

Laurie McGinnis was selected to fill the role this week after serving as the acting director since October. There were 18 other applicants for the position from around the country.

CTS, which was established at the University in 1987, allows transportation researchers to connect with government officials and both public and private agencies to share their research, McGinnis said.

“It really comes down to being a resource,” she said. “We act as a liaison between the students and faculty at the University and the practitioners and policymakers that can benefit from our research.”

Recent CTS research has included projects such as the Teen Driver Support System, a GPS-like cell phone application that tracks new drivers and alerts parents of speeding or other traffic violations.

Researchers are also looking into transportation topics from the economic effects of light-rail tracks to making teen driving safer to the best methods for filling potholes.

The center employs 27 staff and at least 20 students, McGinnis said, but works with more than 150 faculty and researchers in at least 30 University departments.

 McGinnis came to CTS 18 years ago and has worked in many different positions at the center, she said.

Before coming to the University, McGinnis worked designing bridges, many of which are located throughout the Twin Cities.

McGinnis received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin before coming to the University of Minnesota to complete two master’s degrees in public affairs and business administration.

In her position as director of CTS, McGinnis will set the tone and vision of the center, she said.

One of her main goals in to increase the international presence of CTS and its research, she said.

“There has always been a theme of collaboration,” she said, “but especially with today’s economy, it has become a necessity.”

Although McGinnis had already served as acting director for CTS, she said she didn’t necessarily expect to get the position.

“I knew I was interested and I wanted the position, but I also understood it would be competitive,” she said of the national search. “It’s been a long process.”

The best aspect of working at CTS is the variety, McGinnis said.

“Every day at CTS is a new job,” she said. “Every day I get to learn something new.”

Check Wednesday’s Minnesota Daily for more details.