Johanna Amaya-Leal says her interest in transportation engineering stems from a desire to see things applied in a real-life context. Amaya-Leal, a Ph.D. candidate in School of Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CCE), recently participated in the inaugural Civil and Environmental Engineering Rising Stars workshop hosted by MIT Oct. 15-16.
The program invited top early career women in CEE and related domains (such as materials, systems, or environmental science) who are interested in careers in academia to apply to the CEE Rising Stars Workshop that was held on the MIT campus. A total of 122 applications were received. Amaya-Leal was one of the 20 participants selected who represent a broad cross-section of research relevant to CEE.
“I have always wanted to pursue a career in academia,” said Amaya-Leal, whose areas of research interests include urban freight transportation, humanitarian logistics, and supply chain operations. “One of the members of my dissertation committee forwarded the call to me and I found it very interesting. It was the first time that I saw something focused on supporting women in academia, and it seemed like the perfect fit for me. I was surprised but truly honored to know that I was one of this year’s recipients.”
José Holguín-Veras, William H. Hart Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment—who serves as Amaya-Leal’s adviser—nominated her for the workshop.
According to program organizers, civil and environmental engineering tackles problems in diverse areas related to the development of sustainable cities and local-to-global scale environmental issues. The event brought together the next generation of CEE academic leaders for two days of scientific interactions and career-oriented discussions. The program featured research presentations by the participants, faculty talks, panels on issues relevant to academic careers, and opportunities for informal networking with faculty members at MIT.
Amaya-Leal delivered a talk focused on “Optimal Districting in Post-Disaster Environments,” that addressed ways to improve the delivery process of supplies to ensure that individuals receive what they need.
I have always wanted to pursue a career in academia,” said Johanna Amaya-Leal, whose areas of research interests include urban freight transportation, humanitarian logistics, and supply chain operations.
Amaya-Leal hails from Colombia, South America. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and logistics from Universidad del Norte, in Colombia, and also received a master’s in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Florida. She is an Eno Fellow and the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Government of Colombia. She also serves as a research assistant in the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment and at the Volvo Research and Educational Foundation’s Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems led by Rensselaer. Amaya-Leal has several publications and has been part of multiple projects funded by the National Cooperative Freight Research Program, the National Science Foundation, USAID, and UTRC Region II, among others.
Organizers noted that they hope the program would provide individuals with “insights and inspiration to pursue their dreams in a variety of disciplines, and help establish a professional network to continue beyond your visit to MIT.”