Kayla Cummings

Kayla Cummings

PhD Candidate, Operations Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Welcome! I am an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and 2022-23 MIT UPS PhD Fellow at the Operations Research Center advised by Alexandre Jacquillat and Vikrant Vaze. Last summer, I interned with the Cloud Operations Research group at Microsoft Research.

In my graduate work, I develop decomposition methods for large-scale optimization models toward integrated design of urban transportation systems. In particular, I like to think about how elements of flexibility can improve traditional fixed-route public transit systems. My current projects include paratransit workforce scheduling, microtransit line-setting, and multimodal pricing alliance design between transit agencies and ride-hailing operators.

I am passionate about diversity and access in higher education. Last year, I worked to cultivate an inclusive pedagogy as a 2021 MIT TLL Teaching Development Fellow. Off campus, you can find me playing classical piano, rock climbing, hiking, cooking vegetarian food, running along the Charles River, and weightlifting.

  • Networks
  • Large-scale optimization
  • Integer programming
  • Deep learning
  • Game theory
  • PhD in Operations Research, 2023

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • BA in Mathematics, 2018

    Pomona College


(2023). Activated Benders Decomposition for Paratransit Workforce Scheduling with Cancellation Uncertainty. In preparation.

(2023). Design, Planning, and Operations of Microtransit Systems. In preparation.

(2023). Multimodal Transportation Alliance Design With Endogenous Demand: Large-scale Optimization For Rapid Gains. Submitted to Transportation Science.

PDF arXiv

(2021). Pricing the COVID-19 Vaccine: A Mathematical Approach. Omega: The International Journal of Management Science , vol. 103.



2022-2023 UPS PhD Fellow
Merit-based fellowship worth $90k awarded annually to one MIT PhD student in transportation.
Judith Liebman Award
National recognition for outstanding service to INFORMS and MIT ORC.
2021-2022 Teaching Development Fellow
Competitive fellowship worth $2k to enable graduate teaching support at the ORC.
First Place Undergraduate Operations Research Prize
The premier undergraduate research prize in operations research.
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Competitive fellowship worth $125k to fund 3 years of PhD work.
Pomona College Academic Awards
  • Magna cum laude - May 2018
  • Hugh J. Hamilton Mathematics Prize - May 2018
  • Distinction in the senior mathematics exercise - May 2018
  • Phi Beta Kappa - May 2018
  • Sigma Xi - May 2018
  • Bruce Jay Levy Mathematics Prize - May 2017
Undergraduate Poster Prize: Runner-up

Teaching Experience

Head Teaching Assistant: Optimization Models and Methods (15.053 EM.S21)
MIT Sloan School of Management
Feb 2022 – May 2022
  • Managed team of 11 TAs for class of 120+ students
  • Overall instructor rating: 7.0/7.0.
Course Coordinator and Instructor: Computing in Optimization and Statistics (15.S60)
MIT Sloan School of Management
Sep 2021 – Jan 2022
  • Designed curriculum, recruited volunteer student instructors, administered course
  • Redesigned course preparation workflow to incorporate evidence-based best teaching practices
  • Taught session on linear programming with JuMP in Julia. Session rating (n=15): 5.0/5.0
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Advanced Analytics Edge (15.072)
MIT Sloan School of Management
Sep 2021 – Dec 2021
  • Led weekly recitations for 90 students
  • Overall instructor rating: 6.1/7.0
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Optimization Methods in Business Analytics (15.053)
MIT Sloan School of Management
Feb 2021 – Jun 2021
  • Co-managed team of 6 undergraduate TAs for class of 100+ students
  • Designed interactive recitations for a virtual setting
  • Overall instructor rating (n=24): 6.7/7.0
Volunteer Instructor: Computing in Optimization and Statistics (15.S60)
MIT Sloan School of Management
Jan 2021 – Jan 2021
  • Taught session on introductory Git and creating a personal academic website.
  • Overall instructor rating (n=25): 4.8/5.0
Course Mentor
Pomona College Computer Science Department
Sep 2017 – Dec 2017
  • CSCI051: Object-Oriented Programming in Java
Course Mentor and Grader
Pomona College Mathematics Department
Jan 2016 – May 2018
  • MATH187: Deterministic Operations Research - Spring 2018
  • MATH156: Stochastic Processes - Spring 2018
  • MATH103: Combinatorial Mathematics - Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Spring 2018
  • MATH151: Probability with Calculus - Spring 2017
  • MATH067: Vector Calculus - Spring 2016
Pomona College Quantitative Skills Center
Jan 2015 – May 2015
  • MATH031: Calculus II