By Drew Quinn, USC MPL 2019
“Check your emails!” suggests Lauren Mullarkey-Williams, a USC Price student pursuing a B.S. in Policy, Planning, and Development and an M.S. in Geographic and Information Science and Technology. Mullarkey-Williams is currently participating in the Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship, through the Portland State University (PSU) Transportation Research and Education Center, that she discovered in one of METRANS on the Move’s very own articles.
The summertime Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship - only a CV, transcript, and short description of preferred research topics are required from applicants - ensures each fellow in the program is strategically matched with an advisor and research project that meets his or her unique interests. For Mullarkey-Williams, this meant her interest in transit-oriented development (TOD) fit perfectly with an ongoing PSU study on the subject.
Asked about her interest in transportation Mullarkey-Williams acknowledges feeling quite new to the topic but says, “[I have] always been very interested in how people live, work, play, and move within cities.” Yet despite feeling green in transportation studies, the research on her TOD assignment at PSU is being informed by her past research experience involving spatial analysis and GIS technologies. “I am very lucky to be working with a diverse team of experts here at PSU who encourage me to learn new skills and expand upon my current understanding of these programs,” she adds.
On the fellowship itself Mullarkey-Williams says, “I love how this opportunity allows me to look at a wide variety of factors - accessibility, design, environmentalism, housing, sustainability - and tackle research questions through a multidisciplinary approach.” She feels the fellowship has given her the opportunity to fully immerse herself in different areas of the transportation industry, network with a wide variety of professionals and future leaders, and learn about what graduate school options may be of interest to her. “On top of it all, spending the summer exploring Portland has been an adventure to say the least!”
When asked about her thoughts on a career path for herself, she describes three elements of the industry that interest and motivate her. First, the ever-changing impact of mobility and technology on the transportation sector. Second, the opportunity to be challenged on a daily basis and to work with professionals of varied skill-sets and perspectives, such as engineers. Lastly, and with a shoutout to WTS, Mullarkey-Williams wishes to see more women in transportation and wants to add her name to that list.
If Mullarkey-Williams continues on this path and becomes a female professional in transportation she will have the opportunity to see how new forms of mobility will be implemented alongside more traditional transportation options, a facet of the industry she finds particularly important. Mullarkey-Williams concludes with a final thought, “I think we are at a very pivotal moment in defining what modes of transportation will carry us into the next generation, and I’m looking forward to working in an environment that is open to the idea of new, intermodal transit collaborations.”
About the Author:
Drew Quinn is a Master of Planning student at the University of Southern California with a concentration in Transportation. Originally from Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mr. Quinn received a B.A. in History from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and has previously lived in Philadelphia and Madrid. Mr. Quinn serves as the Lead Editor for METRANS on the Move and is also the President and Founder of Trees by Trojans, a service organization at USC dedicated to increasing the distribution of green infrastructure in South Central LA.