Working at Eno: The 2020 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow Reflects on Her Experience

The Eno Center for Transportation welcomed Katherine Idziorek as our 2020 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow this summer. Now at the close of her time with Eno, Katherine provides insight into her experience as a fellow and what’s next for her career.

What was the most valuable thing you learned during the fellowship?
I really appreciated being a part of the Eno team and participating in their many initiatives to bridge research and practice in the transportation world. I had the opportunity to take part in some of Eno’s collaborations with numerous researchers, practitioners, and policy makers—witnessing how these relationships are built was very valuable to me.

I want my research to have real effects on the transportation industry and I had the opportunity to learn how Eno does that.

Katherine Idziorek

In addition, publishing a piece in Eno Transportation Weekly was a great opportunity and a good challenge for me to write succinctly and for a different audience.

How will your experience at Eno inform your work moving forward?
I’ll be thinking more critically about how I communicate my research and collaborate with policy makers to affect change. For academic researchers, there is often pressure to just focus on getting your work published, but for me it’s equally important for the work to build connections with policy makers and practitioners. Especially in this time of rapid change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, communicating research effectively is critical.

What’s next for you?
I’m finishing my dissertation this year! After I graduate in the spring, I’ll be looking for opportunities in the academic sphere to focus on disaster preparedness and transportation. I’m also excited about connecting with the other Future Leaders Development Conference (LDC) fellows. Although the in-person program was canceled this year due to COVID, I’m looking forward to the virtual content Eno has planned and getting to know my cohort.

What advice would you give to future Thomas J. O’Bryant fellows?
Don’t hesitate to jump in. Eno has a lot of really interesting work going on that provides opportunities to learn outside of your expertise. During my time as a fellow, all of the projects I worked on were outside of my comfort zone. While that was intimidating at first, the Eno team was really supportive and helped me dive into new subject areas. While it sounds cliché to say, “Don’t be afraid to learn new things,” there is support from Eno to really make that happen. Work on as many different things as you can.

I’m grateful to the Eno team for my experience as a fellow. Despite being online, this fellowship taught me so much and truly exceeded my expectations.

The Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellowship provides a high-quality professional development opportunity for aspiring transportation specialists. Each summer, Eno selects a Fellow who will gain in-depth knowledge of transportation policy and practice under the guidance of Eno staff.

Along with a successful career in the financial industry, transportation policy was a large part of Thomas O’Bryant’s life and legacy. Tom was a driving force behind Eno’s Future Leaders Development Conference and devoted a significant amount of his time to serving Eno’s transportation leadership and policy research efforts. He was a member of Eno’s Board of Directors for 12 years, spending nine of those years as treasurer, and served on the Eno Board of Advisors and Regents.

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