Student Spotlight: LiveMove Leader Stephanie Nappa, University of Oregon
Stephanie Nappa, University of Oregon
We're shining our student spotlight this month on Stephanie Nappa, president of the University of Oregon student group LiveMove. On May 24, LiveMove will host a speaker series event with Oboi Reed, the Executive Director of Equiticity, to discuss equity in biking.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m a former engineer and chemist who began studying planning once I learned there was a career that would allow me to talk endlessly about transportation systems without simply receiving polite nods. Currently, I’m about to finish my Master of Community and Regional Planning degree from the University of Oregon, where I’ve focused my studies on active transportation. This past summer I had the opportunity to take a study abroad course on bicycle transportation in Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, which was an incredible experience. Seeing the possibilities of well-designed bike infrastructure has been a major source of motivation and influence as I work on my final research project. This year I was selected as an Urbanism Next Research Fellow and have been investigating the potential impacts of autonomous vehicles on active transportation and street design. As this new technology is developed, I believe it’s important to think about whether or not it will support the goals we have for our cities and transportation systems.
What has influenced your path in transportation?
My academic and career interests have always centered on sustainability. As a child I was heavily influenced by the PBS show Nature, and ever since I’ve been passionate about reducing our impact on this beautiful planet. Transportation plays such a huge role in shaping human impact in terms of energy consumption, emissions, and land use. I was initially drawn to transportation for this reason, but as I’ve grown I’ve also become invested in the social impacts of transportation. Our current auto-oriented system is unsafe, inequitable, and isolating in many ways. All I can ask for in my career is that I get to help build a transportation system that is safe, sustainable, and equitable, and I believe supporting active transportation modes and increasing mode choice is the way to achieve this.
How has being involved with the student group LiveMove impacted you? Anything you're particularly proud of accomplishing with this group?
LiveMove has been one of my best experiences of graduate school. It’s really incredible to be able to meet each week with a bunch of other students who like to geek out over biking and public transit as much as I do! I’ve been honored to be this year’s President, mostly because I have such a great leadership team to work with. All of our accomplishments this year are due to their hard work and dedication. Some highlights:
- Our Speaker Series event featuring Liz Jose, the founder of WE Bike NYC, had lively and important discussion on equity in biking. The event was a partnership with the UO Bike Program, and the event was packed with many of the Eugene area bike advocates.
- We’ve recently partnered with the Eugene Safe Routes to School program as “walking school bus” volunteers. We’re starting with one school, but hoping that LiveMove can act as a catalyst providing the volunteer power to get a few routes started and then hand them off to parents. Hopefully one day, every school in the area will have groups of students that can walk together to school each day.
- ByDesign is our next big project. UO is about to expand to the other side of Franklin Boulevard with the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, which will significantly increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic across this busy, six-lane road. The City of Eugene is in the process of redesigning Franklin Boulevard, and we are representing our vision of a street that prioritizes active transportation. It’s been a great learning experience for us all in balancing what we want to see happen vs. what’s realistically possible.
How are you preparing for a career after graduation?
I’ve attended several conferences this year to share my research project and do some networking. I presented at the Urbanism Next Conference in March, and I had a poster at the National Planning Conference at the end of April. These two experiences were quite different, but they helped me build my confidence in discussing my work on the emerging topic of autonomous vehicles. My advisor, Professor Marc Schlossberg, has been urging me to embrace the title of autonomous vehicle expert and I think I’m almost there! Otherwise, I’m trying to learn as much as I can from my last classes and hone my leadership skills through LiveMove.
This is an installment in a series of monthly Student Spotlights we'll be shining on students and alumni that are involved with NITC (National Institute for Transportation & Communites).