News | USC PhD Aisling O'Reilly wins WTS-LA Myra Frank Scholarship

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by Namitha Nixon, USC, Business of Cinematic Arts 2024

Aisling O’Reilly discovered her passion for transportation by accident, but it led her on an impressive and exciting journey in the transportation sector. She has now become the distinguished recipient of the WTS-LA Myra Frank $10,000 scholarship, a renowned scholarship for passionate women in the transportation industry. Aisling is pursuing a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development from the University of Southern California (USC) Sol Price School of Public Policy.  After completing her degree, she plans to pursue a career in academics working in the intersection of land use and transportation.


“We are always delighted when one of our students wins this prize,” said Aisling’s advisor and METRANS Director Dr. Genevieve Giuliano.  “In her few months at USC, Aisling has excelled in her classes and has become an essential member of our METRANS research team.”


Aisling O'Reilly, Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development, USC


Aisling began her journey within the transportation industry with an internship in Austin, Texas BRD Engineering/Consulting (now a division of WGI (Wantman Group, Inc.) focused on transportation planning and traffic engineering. She shares that this was a pivotal moment that shaped her later career choices.  While at BRD, “I discovered that local transportation policy was working against public interest at times, which only furthered my curiosity and desire to do research.”


Since then, she has worked on circulation studies, transit-oriented development district studies, campus plans, traffic impact analyses, and more for private sector consulting in both transportation planning and affordable housing. Aisling hopes to continue exploring the transportation sector throughout her Ph.D. program. “I’m really excited to keep learning and honing in on my research interests at USC.”


In addition to being awarded the Myra Frank scholarship by WTS LA, Aisling has also been honored as the Texas District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Technical Paper of the Year in 2020, and the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Minnesota Undergraduate Scholarship in 2018. She has also presented numerous posters at global conferences such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) International Conference, Urbanism Next Virtual Forum, Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, and Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Annual Conference.


"I am extremely grateful for WTS, specifically the local LA chapter and donors who have made this scholarship possible,” Aisling notes. “It is an honor to receive this award. I hope to be able to pay it forward to other women in transportation later in my career." 


About the Author

Namitha Nixon is an undergraduate sophomore at the University of Southern California studying the Business of Cinematic Arts and a student writer for the METRANS newsletter. Outside of classes, she serves as the VP of Career Development for the Marshall Entertainment Association and the VP of Administration for the Marshall Women’s Leadership Board.