NHTSA Leadership

Chief Safety Scientist: Joseph M. Kolly, Ph.D.

Dr. Joseph M. Kolly is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) first chief safety scientist, advising the Administrator on technical and safety related matters, and applying years of experience in transportation safety, investigation, and scientific research across NHTSA’s traffic safety portfolio. Previously, Kolly worked at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for 18 years, beginning as a mechanical engineer, and then as an investigator for all modes of transportation. He was later named chief of the Vehicle Performance Division, where he was responsible for the NTSB’s vehicle dynamics, simulation, and animation work. In 2005, he became a member of the Senior Executive Service as the deputy director of the Office of Research and Engineering, and in 2009, he became its director. As director, Kolly oversaw the agency’s Materials Laboratory, Recorders Laboratory, Vehicle Performance, and Safety Research Divisions and was responsible for hundreds of investigations annually.

Before joining the NTSB, Kolly was a senior research scientist at Calspan-University at Buffalo Research Center, where he managed research and testing programs in the fields of fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and optics. He also held the position of operations manager of the Large Energy National Shock Tunnel Facility at the Research Center.

Kolly received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a doctorate’s degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Kolly is the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive Service.