2019 CSCRS Student of the Year, Mary Wolfe

Mary Wolfe with her award

CSCRS is proud to announce Mary Wolfe, a doctoral student in the City and Regional Planning program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as its 2019 Outstanding Student of the Year. Wolfe was presented with her award on January 11, 2020, at the Council of University Transportation Center’s 2020 Awards Banquet, held in conjunction with the 2020 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

CSCRS selected Wolfe as its outstanding student as part of a U.S. Department of Transportation program honoring students from University Transportation Centers who have demonstrated achievements in academic performance, research, leadership, professionalism and potential future contributions in the transportation field.

“Mary was highly recruited by several top doctoral programs, and we were lucky that she chose Chapel Hill,” said Noreen McDonald,

Wolfe accepting her award

CSCRS Associate Director and Department Chair, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Professor, Director of Carolina Transportation Program. “During her time here, Mary has made outstanding progress as a student. She has been the lead author on four journal articles and is working on a dissertation that will make a significant contribution to understanding how transport is critical to accessing healthcare and improving health outcomes.”

While it is intuitive that being able to get to medical appointments, particularly preventive care, is essential to well-being, there are sometimes limited mechanisms in place to help people do so. Wolfe’s dissertation explores how transportation plays a crucial role in the care continuum by measuring trips to doctor appointments and examining how new technology and transport options (e.g., Uber and Lyft) impact how individuals access healthcare. Wolfe is expected

to complete her dissertation in May 2020.

“I’m really honored to be recognized as student of the year,” said Wolfe. “CSCRS supports exactly the kind of work that I have pursued as a doctoral student and an investigative approach that I think is crucial to the future of transportation research: it’s about illuminating the importance and intersectionality of transportation in pursuit of individual and community wellbeing—however we may measure it—across contexts and disciplines.”

Wolfe’s adviser Noreen McDonald, Mary Wolfe and CSCRS Director Laura Sandt at the banquet

Wolfe served as the doctoral student representative to the American Collegiate Schools of Planning Board from 2017 to 2019. In her time in this role, she led efforts to connect U.S. and European doctoral students by attending annual European planning conferences and surveying U.S. doctoral students to understand their top issues in order to present to the board. Mary has also been actively involved in her UNC doctoral program governance as an organizer of the social committee and a member of the policy committee. Wolfe has been a teaching assistant in six different planning courses, for which she received a teaching award in 2017, and she received the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship in four years of her doctoral studies. She is currently a research assistant at the Center for Health Equity Research in UNC’s School of Medicine.

This is the third year that CSCRS has chosen a student of the year. The 2017 student was Becky Naumann of UNC, and the 2018 student was Ali Boggs of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.