Liu & Purba earn ARTBA awards; Liu receives the Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship!

Doctoral candidates of the Kontou Research Group, Shanshan Liu and Denissa Purba, were recognized by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) with Future Industry Leader Spotlight Awards! Congratulations to these emerging scholars and future transport industry leaders!

Shanshan with ARTBA’s award!
Denissa @ ARTBA’s award ceremony in Sep 2023!
Shanshan Liu selected for a 2023 Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship!

Shanshan Liu also received the 2023 Lee Schipper Memorial Scholarship for Sustainable Transport and Energy Efficiency! Shanshan’s research will examine the potential of electric school buses to supply backup power to resilience hubs (community shelters) during power outage events in the U.S. Electric school buses have the potential to function as power sources and through Vehicle-to-Building technology, can supply backup power directly to buildings during power outages. Shanshan will evaluate the resilience benefits of electric school buses by simulating the energy use profiles (e.g., heating, cooling, air conditioning) and other loads (e.g., lighting, refrigeration) for the resilience hubs in nine climate regions in the U.S. Please find the announcement by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations and the World Resources Institute in the following links, respectively: and here.

Liu awarded Midwest Big Data Hub Learning Innovation Fellowship

Shanshan (Shirley) Liu, PhD student of the Kontou Research Group, is awarded a Midwest Big Data Hub Learning Innovation Fellowship in Fall 2021. She will develop a data analytics module for a learning case study on alternative transportation fuels and energy use. Congrats, Shirley! More information can be found here:

Shirley and Xi win the Pecan Street Vehicle-to-Grid University Challenge!

A team of Kontou research group graduate students, Shanshan (Shirley) Liu (team leader) and Xi Cheng, won the Vehicle-to-Grid University Challenge, run by Pecan Street. Congrats! This competition served as a great opportunity for our graduate students to use empirical data and deploy their state-of-the-art mathematical models to solve the problem of battery electric vehicle-to-grid services management. Their recognition exemplifies the broader impacts of our research that can provide answers to real-world industry challenges.

The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering covered their win here: More info provided by Pecan Street on their solution here:


INFORMS ORMS Tomorrow mini poster awards won by Kontou research group students!

ORMS Tomorrow mini poster competition awardPhD students of the Kontou research group received 2 out of the 3 awards of the INFORMS OR/MS Tomorrow PhD-level mini poster competition! Denissa Purba received the 1st place award by presenting her UIUC research on alternative fuel vehicles evacuation planning and Xi Cheng received the honorable mention recognition for his research work conducted as a MSc student at UC Berkeley. Find out more here: