Penn IUR Fellow, Design Professor Wins International Best Paper Award

The University of Pennsylvania’s Megan S. Ryerson, of the School of Design, has received the Transportation Research Board’s 2016 Fred Burggraf Award. One of the highest honors presented by TRB, the international award recognizes the year’s best research paper by researchers 35 years of age or younger.

​​​​​​​Ryerson, assistant professor of city and regional planning and electrical and systems engineering at Penn, and faculty fellow at the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR), received the award for her paper “Building Air Service Sustainability: Analytical Approach to Documenting Air Carrier Incentive Programs in Airport Sustainability Plans” published in Transportation Research Record.

“I’m incredibly honored to have my research recognized in this way by the TRB,” Ryerson said. “As cities contemplate how to build economic development through air service, I’m glad to see my work investigating the cost and efficacy of air service incentive programs having an impact on the community.”

Ryerson’s paper examines the emergence of air carrier incentive programs, which allow major airports, typically cities or other local government entities, to use their revenue to provide subsidies and incentives for airlines to launch routes to new destinations.

Her work finds that some of the busiest airports in the U.S., such as Denver International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, provided more than $10 to $20 million in incentives from 2012 to 2015, while many other airports in medium to large cities provided $500,000 to $5 million during the same time period. Ryerson’s paper investigates the role these incentives play in generating regional economic development, and she compares these costs with existing airport-based economic development initiatives.

Ryerson was honored with the award in January 2017 at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies in Washington, DC. The Burggraf Award was established in 1966 to stimulate and encourage young researchers to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of transportation. The award was named in honor of Fred Burggraf, who served as TRB’s Executive Director from 1951 until his retirement in 1964.

TRB is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies in providing services to the government, public and scientific and engineering communities. The National Research Council is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. 

About Penn IUR
Penn IUR is dedicated to advancing cross-disciplinary urban-focused research, instruction and civic engagement on issues relevant to cities around the world. As the global population becomes increasingly urban, understanding cities is vital to informed decision-making and public policy at the local, national and international levels. Penn IUR focuses on research that informs the sustainable and inclusive 21st-century city. By providing a forum for collaborative scholarship and instruction at Penn and beyond, Penn IUR stimulates research and engages with urban practitioners and policymakers to inform urban policy.