Congratulations to PhD students Jing Li of McMaster University and Sara Wagner of the University of Toronto, who were awarded scholarships by the WTS Toronto Area Chapter. Li and Wagner are each supervised by a faculty affiliate of the Smart Freight Centre.
Jing Li is a PhD student at McMaster University’s Department of Civil Engineering and a researcher at McMaster’s AI-enhanced Mobility Lab. She works under the supervision of Professors Hao Yang and Saiedeh Razavi, focusing on machine learning-enhanced traffic prediction, analysis of the spatial-temporal impact of traffic incidents, and prediction of traffic incidents’ risk and severity. She has published three journal papers and holds two patents.
Jing has received several awards and recognitions, including Tongji University’s Outstanding Graduate Student award.
Her career goal is to be a transportation academic, leading a research team to promote safe and efficient trips based on connected and autonomous vehicles.
Jing says her work can enable a better future:
“I believe artificial intelligence could be the ‘silver bullet’ to address the increasingly deteriorated and congested future of transportation.”
She also wants to serve to inspire others:
“I believe my progress can attract more female students to join the Faculty of Engineering and to work in the industries of high technologies for transportation.”
Jing says that the WTS and its scholarship program do important work in promoting the advancement of gender diversity within transportation and inspiring female students to study and work in transportation.
Sara Wagner is a PhD student studying civil engineering in the freight transportation group at the University of Toronto under the co-supervision of Professor Matthew Roorda and Professor Sara Diamond of OCAD University. Her areas of particular interest are freight and complete communities.
Sara is a licensed professional engineer with extensive experience in both the public and private sector, specializing in Project Development and Environment (PD&E) studies.
She aspires to produce a practical, policy-driven thesis that will have a positive impact on people and places. Equity and diversity are key to her design of neighborhoods and complete communities.
Sara has served in a variety of meaningful professional roles, including as Chair of HDR’s Young Professionals Group, President of the local Tampa chapter Institute of Transportation Engineers, and an active member of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Livable Roadways Committee.
She volunteers at the Guardian Ad Litem program, where she serves as an advocate and representative in court for children in the foster system. She is also an avid runner, and a mother.
Motivated by the belief that her work can increase the equity, safety, and sustainability of our society, she says:
“My work in transportation is part of a broader effort to improve peoples’ lives in a holistic fashion, including access to needed goods and services; a safe community that embraces equity and diversity; and a cleaner environment. As the mother of a young daughter, I want to leave behind a legacy of which she can be proud and a world in which she can thrive.
“I strongly believe the young women of today are our future female leaders of tomorrow.”
Sara deeply appreciates the support of WTS Toronto Area Chapter and says she will personally strive to pay it forward:
“Scholarships provide students with further opportunities and capacity to successfully complete their studies. Organizations like WTS demonstrate a lifelong commitment to our profession and foster a network of mentors who inspire students to achieve success and who serve as role models to emulate as we matriculate.
“I am beyond grateful for both the scholarship award and WTS for this amazing opportunity to further pursue my goals and to make valuable professional connections with women who are truly making a difference in the lives of others.
“I, too, am committed to carrying on this tradition of advocating for and supporting women in transportation.”
WTS Toronto Area Chapter 2021 scholarship announcement
A live announcement of the WTS scholarship recipients was made during the WTS Toronto Chapter’s Virtual Conference on Thursday, October 28, 2021. See the WTS news post “WTS Toronto Area Chapter: 2021 Scholarship Recipients.”
The scholarship donor organization, WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar) International, was founded in 1977 by a group of pioneering women in transportation who realized that women’s careers would benefit from professional development, encouragement and recognition to support their advancement in transportation professions. It is a member organization with chapters worldwide, including the WTS Toronto Area Chapter established in 2013.