Kontou named 2023 INFORMS Chicago IMPACTful Researcher of the Year


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Eleftheria Kontou
Eleftheria Kontou

 Eleftheria Kontou, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign assistant professor and Illinois Center for Transportation electrification mobility lead, has been awarded the 2023 INFORMS Chicago Chapter IMPACTful OR/Analytics Prize in the Researcher of the Year category.

The INFORMS Chicago Chapter, a branch of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, annually awards individuals for notable contributions in operations research and analytics.

Kontou received the award for her pioneering work in electric vehicle infrastructure planning in the ICT and Illinois Department of Transportation project, “R27-236: Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan in Illinois,” a collaboration with IDOT’s Christopher Schmidt.

The project targets the optimal placement of over 2,400 charging stations in Illinois, supporting the state’s 2030 goal of 1 million electric vehicles. It incorporates economic, societal and environmental justice considerations to ensure equitable distribution of these facilities.

Kontou, a Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty member and a recent National Science Foundation CAREER award recipient, focuses her work on sustainable transportation systems, particularly in electric vehicle and infrastructure planning and management.

Kontou’s work not only contributes to academic research, but also informs policymaking in environmental sustainability and transportation, marking a key step in Illinois’ journey toward a decarbonized future.

Kontou presented her findings at the 2023 INFORMS Chicago Regional Analytics Conference earlier this month.

“This award is not just a personal achievement but a testament to the collaborative effort and vision shared by our team at ICT and IDOT,” Kontou said. “It’s an honor to contribute to a project that has the potential to significantly shape our state’s environmentally sustainable transportation policies.”

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This story was published November 15, 2023.