Prof. Shiftan research centers on transportation system analysis with a concentrated focus on travel demand. He develops and uses mathematical models and the methods involved in their application to predict, plan, and analyze the demand for travel and the accompanying performance of transportation systems. Ultimately, his goal is to understand and articulate what kinds of transportation we need. To do so he builds a combination of theoretical constructs, behavioral assumptions, and methodologies to analyze demand flows, and their attendant considerations: the factors that affect this demand; how the physical and organizational elements of transportation function and interact with each other; and how the use of these systems impact the economy, the environment, human safety, and various social objectives.

The models that Prof. Shiftan develop to better analyze travel demand are related to the econometric theories developed by Professor Daniel McFadden, the 2000 Nobel Laureate in Economics, and further developed and applied to transportation by Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva. His research also attempts to expand these models by integrating insights from psychology and behavioral economics, such as theories on judgment and decision-making developed by Professor Daniel Kahneman, the 2002 Nobel Laureate in Economics. Prof. Shiftan sees great intellectual challenge in combining aspects of economics, psychology, and engineering to analyze the complexities of transportation and urban systems.