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Urban Planning Doctoral Student Wins Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship

Monday, October 26, 2020

Robert Pfaff, a doctoral student in urban and regional planning, has been awarded a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship from the Federal Highway Administration to support the completion of his dissertation.

Pfaff’s work-in-progress dissertation, “Region, Race, Rail, and Rubber: An Analysis of How Transportation Planning Decisions Contributed to Regional Segregation, 1925 - 1970,” investigates the history of public transportation decision making through a historical case study of Detroit. His work argues that public transportation has tacitly influenced metropolitan segregation by limiting transit access to minority and underserved communities during suburbanization.

“Rob’s dissertation will add an important dimension to recent scholarship on Detroit and so-called ‘shrinking’ or ‘legacy’ cities,” said Joe Grengs, chair of urban and regional planning and associate professor. “Although many scholars have revealed the role of real estate development, housing, and economic policy in contributing to the racial segregation and social inequality in cities like Detroit, few have explained how transportation policy has contributed to these harmful effects. Rob's study of a decisive period in Detroit will offer insights into why the Detroit region remains one of the most segregated in the nation.”

The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program advances the transportation workforce by helping to attract the nation's brightest minds to the field of transportation, encouraging future transportation professionals to seek advanced degrees, and helping to retain top talent in the U.S. transportation industry.

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