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CCEE’s Dr. Ali Hajbabaie named Goodnight Early Career Innovator by NC State

Dr. Ali Hajbabaie

CCEE assistant professor Dr. Ali Hajbabaie was selected as a 2021-22 Goodnight Early Career Innovator at NC State. The award was established in 2021 to support early career faculty excellence and to recognize faculty whose scholarship clearly and substantively contributes to innovation and advancement in STEM or STEM education. Each recipient receives an annual award for the next three fiscal years to support scholarship and research endeavors. 

“It felt amazing to receive this recognition,” Hajbabaie said. “I was delighted and humbled to be selected for this award. I felt honored to be a part of this cohort of Goodnight Early Career Innovators.”

Hajbabaie joined the department in the fall of 2019 after five years at Washington State University.  His research focuses on the application domain of traffic control systems to leverage the emergence of connected vehicle data flows and vehicle autonomy. A major emphasis of his research is on improving computational efficiency through the implementation of distributed optimization techniques. 

“His research addresses the fact that, as a society, we will have a mix of human driven and connected automated vehicles for decades,” Barlaz said. “Thus, meaningful improvements to traffic operations must consider a mix of vehicle types as Dr. Hajbabaie proposes. His research has the potential to result in large savings in time and emissions reductions, which translates to benefits for the economy, the environment and human health due to reduced vehicle emissions and reduced stress associated with traffic congestion. I am excited by the implications of his work to improve societal wellbeing.”

Hajbabaie, who was recently appointed associate editor of the IEEE journal on Intelligent Transportation Systems, has received several accolades, including Sweet 16 High Value Research from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; and Best Paper awards from the Transportation Research Board (TRB), Work Zone Traffic Control Committee and the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Illinois Section. He is also a member and has assumed leadership roles in multiple TRB committees of the National Academy of Sciences. 

“The biggest highlight of my career is being fortunate to work with an excellent group of smart and productive students,” Hajbabaie said. “We have a unique culture in our group that values hard work, leadership, and collaboration, which has led to high-quality publications, dissertation awards, etc. I am grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with amazing colleagues inside and outside of NC State and be a part of the Pack.”

The Goodnight Early Career Innovators program is made possible by a gift from longtime NC State supporters Dr. Jim and Ann Goodnight. Jim Goodnight — the founder and CEO of SAS — earned his B.S. in applied mathematics in 1965, his M.S. and doctorate in statistics in 1968 and 1972, respectively, and the university conferred an honorary degree to him in 2002. Ann Goodnight earned her B.A. in political science in 1968, works as the senior director of community relations at SAS and serves on the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees. 


See the full list of 2021-22 Goodnight Early Career Innovators here.