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

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

PDF arXiv

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



Finalist, Dupačová-Prékopa Best Student Paper Prize in Stochastic Programming
Contender for best student-authored paper in stochastic programming, 2020-2023.
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