Eno Welcomes 2024 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow

The Eno Center for Transportation is proud to welcome our 2024 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow, Steven Parks. A fifth-year transportation engineering Ph.D. Candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Steven is conducting his doctoral research at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics focusing on the design of efficient delivery routes for last-mile logistics vehicles in U.S. cities. We sat down with him for some full-mile coverage on his career and interest in Eno.

How did you become interested in transportation?

Cities fascinate me. They are complex systems – simultaneously organized and chaotic. As a kid I loved sightseeing with my family in downtown Seattle. I would watch people passing us on sidewalks, boarding buses, and taking the Seattle Center Monorail. I wanted to better understand where people were traveling, how, and why. I think bettering our transportation systems is an opportunity to enable better quality of life, connecting people to loved ones, work opportunities, and education.

What experience or development influenced your view of transportation the most?

During an immersion trip my sophomore year of college, I visited a remote mountain town in Nicaragua. With my classmates, I spoke with a local community member who told us that the nearest hospital to their village is a 3-hour journey along an unlit road. She recently lost a family member experiencing cardiac arrest because they couldn’t reach medical care quickly enough. Speaking with her helped change my perception of transportation from that of an unexamined routine in my daily life to that of an essential service that connects people to opportunities, each other, and sometimes, life-saving care.

What is something you’re passionate about within the transportation industry?

Creating and advocating for well-funded, accessible, and reliable transportation systems that work for everyone is my ultimate career goal. I think that access to effective transportation options is a civic right. However, historically marginalized communities have often received less transportation investment. I want to help correct this imbalance in my future career, particularly by connecting low-income communities of color to high-quality public transit services. 

What made you apply for the fellowship?

During a recent visit to Washington, D.C., I met with a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As a policy analyst whose day-to-day responsibilities include being a transportation subject matter expert, she told me that she frequently turns to the Eno Center’s scholarship to stay informed on current transportation issues in the U.S. I wanted to join this organization that helps shape the conversation around transportation at all levels of government. I think that Eno occupies a special nexus point in the transportation sector – research, policy, and outreach. I’m eager to learn from the Eno team how all these activities combine to create better transportation systems.

What are you looking forward to about the fellowship and your future career?

So far my transportation career has been mostly in the lab, using quantitative methods to create algorithms and optimization models for transportation system design. I’m excited to learn how I can translate that research into policies that are beneficial to real communities. I think transportation research is most valuable when it can be used in practice. I’m excited particularly to meet with transportation experts who develop and implement academic research so I can determine how I might chart a future career at the intersection of scholarship and policy.

We hope you enjoyed meeting Steven as much as we did! Make sure to check back here this summer at Eno Transportation Weekly to read more of his work.

Search Eno Transportation Weekly

Latest Issues

Happening on the Hill

Related Articles

Senate Assesses Aftermath of Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse

Jul 12, 2024 | Steven Parks
July 12, 2024 - On March 26, the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which spanned the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland,...

House Subcommittee Convenes Roundtable to Discuss Fleeting U.S. Maritime Competitiveness

Jul 12, 2024 | Kirbie Ferrell
July 9, 2024 - The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hosted a roundtable to hear from industry...

Senate Committee Discusses Trade and Customs Policy

May 24, 2024 | Kirbie Ferrell
May 21, 2024 - The Senate Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness held a hearing on Tuesday titled...

Maryland Bridge Replacement to Cost $1.7-$1.9B; Progressive Design-Build to Be Used

May 3, 2024 | Jeff Davis
May 2, 2024 - Maryland officials told the media yesterday that the replacement cost for the Francis Scott Key Bridge...

Biden Announces Plan to Assist U.S. Steel, Shipbuilding Industries

Apr 19, 2024 | Jeff Davis
April 19, 2024 - President Biden this week requested higher tariffs on Chinese-made steel and aluminum, and his trade rep...

Balancing Act: The Next Generation of Mariners in the Maritime Industry

Mar 28, 2024 | Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
March 28, 2024 - Throughout my years of service as a Naval Officer I was frequently reminded that experience matters....

Senate Begins WRDA Deliberations

Mar 1, 2024 | Garett Shrode
March 1, 2024 - The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to discuss the projects, programs...

House Panel Looks at Impacts of Red Sea Shipping Disruptions

Feb 2, 2024 | Kirbie Ferrell
February 2, 2024 - A House subcommittee this week looked at the impacts of Houthi missile launches on maritime shipping...

Year-End Defense Bill Contains Maritime Reauthorization

Dec 8, 2023 | Jeff Davis
December 8, 2023 - Next week, the Senate will vote on a 2,305-page, $874 billion national defense authorization bill early...

House Subcommittee Meets to Discuss Autonomous Maritime Technology, Submarines

Sep 22, 2023 | Kirbie Ferrell
September 19, 2023 - The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation met to discuss the use of autonomous...

The History of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund

Aug 31, 2023 | Jeff Davis
August 31, 2023 - The story of the creation of, and changes to, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund

As Other Agencies Face Cutbacks, House Appropriators Give Corps Water Program 15% Increase

Jun 16, 2023 | Jeff Davis
June 16, 2023 - A draft bill approved in an House subcommittee yesterday would provide $9.6 billion in new funding...