Christopher P. L. Barkan

Christopher P. L. Barkan, Ph.D. is Professor, Executive Director of the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC), and George Krambles Faculty Fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UIUC where he has been on the faculty for over 14 years. As Director of RailTEC he is responsible for railroad engineering research and academic activities at UIUC and supports research on a wide range of topics to improve rail safety, reliability and efficiency. Prior to joining UIUC he directed the railroad industry’s risk engineering research in the AAR’s Research & Test and Safety & Operations Departments. He has been actively involved in positions of leadership at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Dr. Barkan is the author or editor of more than 100 railroad-engineering papers, reports, chapters or books on a range of topics. He has been an invited or keynote speaker at conferences, universities and corporations around the globe.

Conrad Ruppert Jr.

Conrad Ruppert Jr. joined RailTEC in May 2012 as a Senior Research Engineer and to serve as the NURail Center’s Associate Director for Research. Mr. Ruppert holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Princeton University (1977) and a Master of Science degree in technology management from the University of Pennsylvania (1999). Over the course of his 35-year career with Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor, he held positions covering most aspects of railway track engineering, maintenance operations and track research. This experience is used to direct research programs and help mentor civil engineering students who are interested in pursuing careers in railroad engineering. Mr. Ruppert’s research interests include improving the performance of railroad infrastructure, optimizing railroad maintenance operations and advancing the use of asset management systems.

J. Riley Edwards

J. Riley Edwards, Ph.D., P.E. joined RailTEC in 2007 as a Senior Lecturer and Research Scientist. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Vanderbilt University (2004) and a Master of Science in civil engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2006). After graduation, he worked for Hanson Professional Services, Inc. as a Construction Engineer on BNSF Railway’s Memphis Intermodal Expansion project in Tennessee. Currently, Mr. Edwards’ oversees RailTEC’s rail infrastructure research and advise students. Mr. Edwards’ research interests include the design and performance of railway track components.

Marcus Dersch

Marcus Dersch, P.E. joined RailTEC in 2011 as a Senior Research Engineer. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree (2009) and Master of Science in civil engineering (2010) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While pursuing his degrees, he completed research in Railroad Engineering focusing on fouled railroad ballast performance and ballast performance improvement techniques. During the summer of 2008 he worked for Union Pacific Railroad as an engineering intern. Mr. Dersch obtained his Professional Engineer’s License in 2015 and his current research interests are railway crosstie and fastener design and railroad ballast performance.