USC Price School of Public Policy

Ph.D. Student Publications

Recent Publications from SPPD Ph.D. Students

Stephanie Frank
“Claiming Hollywood: Boosters, The Film Industry, and Metropolitan Los Angeles” in the Journal of Urban History (forthcoming)

In 1937, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce attempted to change the name of the city to Hollywood because members were disgruntled with the lack of attention it received from media and tourists for its role in the film industry. MGM and other smaller studios operated in Culver City but all their films read “Made in Hollywood.” Frank, a Ph.D. student at SPPD, chronicles the dispute, which ended in the Los Angeles City Council passing an ordinance establishing the boundaries of the Hollywood district, excluding Culver City. To this day, Hollywood is the only neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles with officially designated boundaries. “I got interested in the topic when I came across a short mention of the dispute in a Culver City local history,” Frank said. “When I read about this story, I wanted to know more. Despite a wealth of primary sources available for this name dispute, almost nothing had been written about it, so I pursued the story.”
— By Matthew Kredell

Fynnwin Prager
Co-authored “Transportation Security and the Role of Resilience: A Foundation for Operational Metrics” in Transport Policy and “Exploring Reduction in London Underground Passenger Journey Following the July 2005 Bombings” in Risk Analysis

In his Ph.D. study at the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, housed within SPPD, Prager was assigned to work on a report examining the behavioral responses to terrorist attacks on transportation systems. Working along with CREATE professor Detlof von Winterfeldt and postdoctoral research associates Garrett Beeler Asay and Bumsoo Lee, Prager focused on the London underground train bombings of July 2005. They found that passenger journeys fell by 8.3 percent in the four months following the attacks and showed the important role governments can play in managing the potential impact of increased-risk perception. CREATE professor Adam Rose later approached Prager to help apply the data from the London case to a paper he was working on with Transportation Security Administration officials for Transport Policy.
— By Matthew Kredell

Mohja Rhoads
“Face to Face and Computer Mediated Communication: What Does Theory Tell Us and What Have We Learned So Far?” in the Journal of Planning Literature

Most workplace communication these days can take place over the phone or e-mail or video chat, so why do many people still commute 40+ miles a day through rush-hour traffic in order to hold meetings in person? Rhoads, a Ph.D. student, presents that information and communication technologies have not had the predicted effect of substantially altering work and work-based travel patterns. Rhoads finds comparisons of performance for computer-mediated vs. face-to-face communication mixed, suggesting that it is not clear whether face-to-face communication is necessarily superior for collaborative processes. She credits her faculty mentor at USC, Lisa Schweitzer, for helping her improve the paper. “There is still promise in the ability of individuals to perform distributed work through technology,” Rhoads said. “We just need to better understand the human behavior behind the use of technology.”
— By Matthew Kredell

Pengyu Zhu
“Are telecommuting and personal travel complements or substitutes?” in the Annals of Regional Science

According to Zhu, Ph.D. ’11, the paper explores how telecommuting shapes workers’ one-way commute trips, daily total work trips and daily non-work trips. It also addresses a key question in urban policy analysis — whether telecommuting and personal travel are complements or substitutes. Zhu noted that urban planners and policymakers have been proposing telecommuting as part of travel management programs to reduce congestion. Several studies, based on small samples, have found that telecommuting has a small substitution effect on commute travel. However, Zhu, in his study, uses two large national samples to more accurately identify the impact of telecommuting on workers’ travel patterns. Through a series of empirical tests, using data from the 2001 and 2009 National Household Travel Surveys, Zhu found that telecommuting creates a complementary effect on not only workers’ one-way commute trips, but also their daily total work trips and total non-work trips.
— By Ben Dimapindan