Barbara A. Ivanov promotes and facilitates practical research results, both as Director of the Urban Freight Lab at the University of Washington (UW) and as Chief Operating Officer of the Supply Chain, Transportation, and Logistics Center (SCTL).
“The most interesting research solves real-world problems,” Ivanov comments. “To work with industry, we need to start by asking them for key problems in the public–private transportation space, and then designing research plans around their unmet needs.” SCTL integrates education, research, and in-depth consultation with key players to improve public freight systems for business sectors, supply chains, and surrounding communities. A partnership between the Seattle Department of Transportation (DOT) and the private sector, the Urban Freight Lab is a “living laboratory” that tackles delivery systems challenges in urban areas.
The Urban Freight Lab’s first research project examines the “final 50 feet” of the urban delivery system—the last leg of the delivery process, which begins when a truck stops at the customer’s location and ends with physical receipt of the goods. Ivanov facilitates the lab’s research projects, maintains its financial stability, delivers data-based results, manages realworld pilot tests, and communicates research outcomes.
Ivanov’s expertise includes developing data-based decision support to improve capital investment in and management of public freight infrastructure, as well as helping diverse groups identify priority needs, develop solutions, and deliver on common goals. She has worked with U.S. DOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to develop freight performance metrics, performance-tracking systems capabilities, and economic impact analyses; to implement advanced collection methods and analytic tools for freight data; and to advocate for resilient freight systems. Ivanov has led peer exchanges on such topics as cooperative multiagency freight planning at the state and regional levels and has coordinated state input into the National Freight Network and the National Freight Strategic Plan. She also has conducted FHWA webinars on such topics as freight system resiliency and land use–based freight planning.
“Not every research project results in a best practice, as you may believe if you attend too many conferences. In fact, most do—and should—produce failures; it’s the only way we can learn,” Ivanov observes. “Being open about failure is as important as objectivity when reporting results.”
Current research topics include reducing truck dwell time and failed first deliveries of goods in urban systems; improving the prductivity of truck loading and unloading spaces in cities and of truck parking along major corridors; and developing a database-enabled trust framework to enhance operational security of global supply chains, logistics, and smart goods and the Internet of things.
Ivanov received both a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington. She also is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management. She served as Assistant Director and then Executive Director of the Kent, Washington, Chamber of Commerce; in 2003, she joined Washington State DOT as Director of the Freight Systems Division.
At Washington State DOT, she led many noteworthy efforts—an agencywide economic impact analysis for passenger and freight transportation investments; the online Freight Alert and Commercial Vehicle Pass System; low-cost, high-value resiliency solutions for major freight system disruptions; and the Washington State Freight Mobility Plan. The freight plan won several communications awards: TRB’s 8th Annual Communicating Concepts with John and Jane Q. Public Competition, the AVA Digital Award, the Communicator Award, and the MarCom Award.
“I encourage young women in research to sit down at the big table and lay out their best ideas,” Ivanov notes.
Ivanov joined TRB in 2007 as a member of the Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program’s Hazardous Materials Commodity Flow Data and Analysis project panel. She has served on several project panels for the Cooperative Research Programs and SHRP 2, including a National Cooperative Freight Research Program panel on Understanding and Using New Truck Data Sources to Address Urban Freight. She chaired the Standing Committee on Intermodal Freight Transport from 2008 to 2013 and then the Freight Group from 2013 to 2016.
As Freight Group chair, Ivanov guided the work of 12 freight committees and represented the committees’ interests on the Technical Activities Council. She also chaired the Subcommittee on the Transport of Energy Products and is a member of the Standing Committee on Urban Freight Transportation, coordinating the Freight Day activities and other sessions for the 2018 TRB Annual Meeting.