New GSCI Collaborative Continues Rich History of Leadership in Transportation and Logistics

August 9, 2023

This August, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Global Supply Chain Institute launched the Transportation and Logistics Collaborative (TLC), which will work closely with the Center for Transportation Research and Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs to bolster the understanding of how transportation systems, policies, and industry interact in the United States and around the world.

“The collaborative honors the rich, 80-year history of our department’s teaching and research in transportation,” said John Bell, department head for supply chain management in the Haslam College of Business and  TLC founding member. “We’ve trained generations of transportation and logistics professionals, many of whom have gone on to enjoy long and distinguished careers in transportation management, warehousing, distribution, and materials handling.”

UT’s renowned supply chain programs, which rank among the best in North America, span the scope of the discipline, from purchasing to manufacturing and planning to distribution. For decades, the department’s roots were in transportation, as it evolved from transportation economics to logistics management before its current focus on end-to-end supply chain management.

At least eight full-time supply chain faculty specialize in distinct areas of transportation and distribution. Founding members of the TLC include:

  • Yemisi Bolumole: Ryder Professor and former director of the transportation and logistics program at the University of North Florida. An expert in transportation policy, she is a co-creator of a series of trucking industry indices, including the for-hire trucking ton-mile index (TTMI) published by S&P Global. She was recently named to a Transportation Research Board committee researching the impacts of compensation methods on commercial driver retention and safety.
  • Alex Scott: Gerald T. Niedert Professor with more than two decades of experience working in, consulting for, or researching large transportation and third-party logistics companies. An expert in sustainability and transportation safety, he developed a transportation sustainability index with GSCI corporate partner project44[BC1]  to curb transportation emissions.
  • Don Maier: An advisory board member of the International Association of Maritime Port Executives (IAMPE) and former dean of the international logistics program at Maine Maritime Academy and the School of Maritime Transportation, Logistics, and Management at California State University Maritime Academy. His career in industry included logistics and supply chain management roles at FedEx, Penske Logistics, Monsanto, and Merisant.
  • Jeff Trombly: A career transportation analyst, planner, and researcher with two decades in industry for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Leidos.
  • Lance Saunders: Ratledge Professor and an expert in transportation operations and operational safety.

Also working with the TLC will be Bell, an expert in vehicle routing and last-mile delivery, and GSCI co-executive directors Thomas Goldsby and Ted Stank, who have spent two decades consulting and developing strategies for large transportation companies.

“Each person in the collaborative is a subject matter expert,” Bell said. “Establishing the TLC organizes our efforts, synergizing the work happening in mobility and transportation across the university and providing the practical, rigorous, and relevant research that is the standard for our department.” While the CTR, housed in the Tickle College of Engineering, has strong expertise in designing and developing better transportation systems, and the Baker School concentrates on the economic impact of transportation policy, the TLC focuses on the effects of these systems and policies on business operations and performance. This is especially true for many transportation carriers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), transportation brokers, and technology companies that partner with GSCI, such as Averitt Express, Axle Logistics, FedEx, Gnosis, and Norfolk Southern.

Efficient and effective logistics is a key to sustained economic growth in the United States and abroad. At the same time, reducing transportation and logistics costs requires technological innovation, the development of new knowledge and skills to enhance worker productivity, and the cooperation of stakeholders.

“You cannot have progress in transportation without considering the implications for businesses,” Bell said. “In supply chain, we represent the perspective of trucking, railroads, and airlines moving cargo throughout the transportation networks, so they operate safely, sustainably, and profitably.”

Members of the TLC have already advised the Tennessee Governor’s Office on infrastructure improvements, presenting a report to Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Business Leadership Council in the fall of 2022. They are gathering data and information in collaboration with the American Ground Transportation Association (AGTA) to provide new insights for improving ground transportation in and around the nation’s airports.

The TLC will work closely with the CTR and Baker School to pursue transportation-focused grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, the State of Tennessee, and other funding organizations. In line with UT’s continued focus on mobility, the collaborative will seek opportunities to improve knowledge of how to transport people and cargo more effectively and efficiently through transportation networks in ways that allow businesses in the industry to flourish.

The TLC is a sister collaborative to the Advanced Supply Chain Collaborative (ASCC), headed by Stank. ASCC, established in 2019, serves as a collaborative think tank partnering UT faculty with industry professionals to explore advanced concepts in the discipline. Its members include Amazon, Bush Brothers, Pfizer, Schneider Electric, and WestRock.

Read industry research from GSCI in logistics and transportation.


Brian Canever,