News | UCLA's Julene Paul Awarded PSR Doctoral Student of the Year

Stop the Video



by Amy Guzman, USC Political Science and International Relations

Julene Paul is this year’s PSR student of the year. Julene is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies from Harvard University and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Rutgers. 


Julene’s initial interest in transportation began while studying urban policy as an undergraduate. In her coursework, she found transportation to be a recurring and critical theme. While pursuing her master’s degree, Julene worked with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority), focusing on transit operations and planning. She shares that her work at the Port Authority was memorable and exciting, and furthered her interest in transportation planning. It preceded her work as a Program Manager at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) after graduating from Rutgers.


Julene Paul, PhD in Urban Planning and Policy, UCLA


At UCLA, Julene is currently working on a research project studying the effects of COVID-19 on transportation behavior. She is also part of a team conducting research about BlueLA, an electric carshare program that provides services targeted to low-income areas of Los Angeles. She also has worked on several projects related to trends in automobile ownership. She has presented some of this research at national conferences, and has also published some of this work with her coauthors (included her advisors, Brian Taylor and Evelyn Blumenberg). Julene has been interested in research since her undergraduate years at Harvard where she worked a research assistant with the Education Innovation Laboratory. She was also a Research Fellow with the Getty Foundation and a research assistant at Rutgers University. At UCLA, she has worked on research projects with both the Institute of Transportation Studies and the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. 


Julene advises students to seek out (and speak with) professors who teach classes in the fields that interest them. For students interesting in working in particular fields, she suggests reaching out to industry professionals who work in their “dream jobs.” She also advises students to take advantage of internship opportunities and to seek out mentors from these experiences. Julene cites her work with the Port Authority as an example in which her supervisor – Gregory Wong – made special efforts to mentor her. This included presenting her with challenging projects and opportunities to interact with senior leadership. Julene also encourages students to venture out beyond their required classes when possible. She recently took a course at the UCLA Law School in employment law, and this challenged her to think critically about transportation policies and their effects on workers.


About the Author:

Amy Guzman is an undergraduate student attending the University of Southern California studying Political Science and International Relations. She is a student staff writer for the METRANS newsletter and is also part of the METRANS K12 student outreach team.