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NHTSA Leadership

Joseph Kolly

Chief Safety Scientist

NHTSA Chief Safety Scientist Dr. Joseph Kolly advises the agency’s administrator on technical and safety-related matters, and applies years of experience in transportation safety, investigation, and scientific research across NHTSA’s traffic safety portfolio. Kolly’s work centers on vehicle safety, in which he develops analytic methodologies into new and existing safety programs, as well developing the processes to operate and maintain them. Currently, Kolly is also serving as NHTSA’s Acting Associate Administrator for Enforcement.

Previously, Kolly worked at the National Transportation Safety Board 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. He then became part of the Senior Executive Service and later served as director of the research and engineering office, overseeing 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. 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 from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Kolly is the recipient of the 2014 Presidential Rank Award for meritorious Executive Service.