UC Davis students recognized at 2013 WTS-Sacramento Awards and Scholarship Dinner

By Alston Lim • UC Davis 2014

Three UC Davis students were honored at the annual WTS-Sacramento Awards and Scholarship Dinner on Jan. 29, an event that recognizes women for their leadership and achievements in the transportation industry.

Alicia Halpern (second to left), Natalie Popovich (center) and Melissa Gjerde (right) each received a scholarship that celebrates the contributions each woman made to the study of transportation.

Popovich, a Transportation Technology and Policy (TTP) master’s student, received the 2013 Helene M. Overly Memorial Graduate Scholarship. The award honors women pursuing graduate studies in transportation and encourages them to further pursue a career in transportation.

Popovich studies the intersection of behavioral economics and transportation planning and is particularly interested in government decision-making about transportation infrastructure projects. Her adviser is professor Susan Handy.

Popovich said she is honored to receive the WTS recognition.

“This scholarship reinforced the notion to me that if you do work that you believe in, chances are other people also believe in it. The support of this scholarship is a constant reminder to pursue changes in the transportation sector that benefit those who don’t have the strongest voice,” said Popovich.

“This scholarship will give me the freedom to pursue personal research interests over the summer and allow me to travel to conferences and present my research to a broader audience.”

Popovich works for the City of Davis as an Active Transportation Program Specialist where she helps organize and edit the city’s new Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan. She also manages the city’s Bicycle Friendly Business Program, through which she explained, “local businesses can apply for national recognition for their efforts in encouraging employees and patrons to bike to work and shop.”

Halpern, an undergraduate senior at UC Davis majoring in Environmental Policy Analysis & Planning, was the recipient of the 2013 Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship, which awards women pursuing undergraduate studies in transportation. Halpern works as a student research aide at the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy, where she is interested in sustainable agriculture, ecosystem conservation, alternative transportation and community development.

Gjerde, also a student researcher at the UC Davis Policy Institute, received the 2013 Bimla G. Rhinehart Leadership Scholarship for demonstrating leadership skills, ability and interest in her undergraduate studies in transportation. She is a third-year Environmental Policy Analysis & Planning student with an emphasis in City and Regional Planning. She is interested in pursuing a career in regional transportation planning and hopes to someday promote more mixed use and multimodal transportation design in California.

Photo: Scholarship recipients Alicia Halpern (second to left), Natalie Popovich (center) and Melissa Gjerde (right) attend the 2013 annual WTS-Sacramento Awards and Scholarship Dinner with UC Davis professor of Environmental Science and Policy Susan Handy (left).  Photo Credit: Kyle Gayman, 2014