2018 HSRC Scholarship Awarded to UNC Chapel Hill Student Pursuing Joint Public Health and City and Regional Planning Degree

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. ─ The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Highway Safety Research Center announced today the recipient of the 2018 Megan Cornog Memorial Highway Safety Scholarship as Kaitlin Heatwole. Heatwole is pursuing dual Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP) degrees with UNC  Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC-CH Department of City and Regional Planning, respectively.

“I am honored to receive this scholarship,” said Heatwole. “And as an incoming student, I’m eager to learn how to apply planning tools and skills to transportation issues that I’ve observed in my own experience but don’t yet know how to tackle.”

Heatwole’s interest in how behaviors and perceptions influence transportation choices are why she shifted gears from peacebuilding and development to public health and transportation safety. “Transportation is such a pervasive aspect of life,” she added. “A transportation system can be designed to encourage perceptions and behaviors that are better for the users and better for the environment.”

Heatwole hopes to use her future master’s degrees to design complex interventions that address multiple components of motor-vehicle-related deaths and injuries, simultaneously.

“Transportation systems feel so big and permanent that it’s hard to imagine changing or improving them as an individual,” she says. “But I believe that there are definitely things that can be done both by individual travelers and by the people designing transportation systems to reduce [crashes] and save lives.”

“Kaitlin demonstrated a good understanding of the complexity of road safety and how her expected areas of study can serve to address this problem,” said Daniel Carter, Co-interim Director at HSRC. “HSRC continues to play a part in encouraging upcoming professionals, and we are proud to support Kaitlin as she begins her graduate programs in city planning and public health.”

Heatwole will visit HSRC in the spring of 2019 to discuss her research and areas of interest with HSRC staff. Please contact  Marie Melendez, melendez@hsrc.unc.edu, if you would like to attend this free event.

The purpose of the annual Megan Cornog Memorial Highway Safety Scholarship is to foster the education and professional development of graduate students with an interest in transportation safety-related areas including, but not limited to, engineering, driver behavior, planning, public health, and environment. Candidates are evaluated based on a written essay, as well as academic performance, career goals, extracurricular and professional activities, and work experience.

The scholarship is named in memory of a former HSRC staff member, Megan Cornog, who died November 7, 2010, at her home in Carrboro, N.C., after a courageous battle with cancer. After earning her master’s degree from UNC-CH in May 2009, Megan began her career working as a project coordinator for HSRC, focusing on pedestrian and bicycle issues. Since establishing the scholarship in 2006, HSRC has awarded 10 scholarships to graduate students in the UNC system. For more information, visit www.hsrc.unc.edu/scholarship.