The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Recent Grad Receives National Paper Prize

Headshot of Esther Oh

Esther Oh, a 2020 graduate of the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy, has been awarded second place in a national student paper competition focused on United Nations sustainability efforts.

The competition, sponsored by the American National Standards Institute, sought papers on the theme "Standards Supporting UN Sustainable Goals." Those goals, part of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, call for nations to improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth while also protecting the environment and addressing the effects of climate change.

Oh’s paper, "Road Traffic Safety Management Standard: Progress Towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal No. 3.6," examines an effort to reduce by half the number of global road traffic injuries and deaths through the adoption by member nations of a traffic safety management system. Oh found that while the target goal of halving injuries and deaths was not achieved, the effort was still beneficial, leading to some reduction while also providing clear guidelines for governments.

“The gravity and extent of global road traffic accidents are often overlooked, because it is overshadowed by globally feared infectious diseases such as AIDS, HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria,” Oh said. “I wanted to use this paper as an opportunity to increase awareness about the strain that the rising incidence of road traffic accidents puts on the global economy and medical community.

Oh’s paper will be published in the Society for Professional Standards’ journal. In addition, she and the competition’s first-place winner, Praneetha Pratapa of the University of Texas Dallas, will receive cash prizes and will be acknowledged at the American National Standards Institute’s Leadership and Service Awards Ceremony in 2021.

“I believe that the skills I gained from SPP helped me thoughtfully analyze this situation from an interesting perspective,” Oh said. “I thank all of my professors at the SPP, especially Director Alasdair Roberts for providing me such thoughtful feedback in the earlier drafts.”

Oh received her graduate degree through SPP’s 4+1 Master of Public Policy Program. She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from UMass in 2019.

Read Oh’s paper.

About the School of Public Policy: Established in 2016, the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy prepares students for leadership in public service. The program’s focuses include social change and public policy related to science and technology.

Contact: Maureen Turner, communications manager, School of Public Policy


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