Dr. Rita Leahy has been involved in the transportation industry on asphalt pavement-related issues for over 30 years at the national, regional, and state levels. This includes engagements as a Principal Engineer with the Asphalt Institute, Senior Staff Engineer with the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), Civil Engineering Faculty at Oregon State University, Senior Project Manager with Fugro-BRE, Project Manager with MACTEC, Principal Engineer with Nichols Consulting Engineers (NCE), and Technical Director of the California Asphalt Pavement Association.
She earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland. During her tenure as a Senior Staff Engineer with the Strategic Highway Research Program, Dr. Leahy was responsible for technical, financial, and administrative oversight of research funding. She worked with Professor Carl Monismith and Dr. Thomas Kennedy and was the principal author of the research reports that described all aspects of the final SHRP research product that we know as “Superpave.”
Dr. Leahy has authored or co-authored over 60 publications related to asphalt technology spanning topics of materials characterization, pavement construction, and pavement design and analysis.
While at Oregon State University, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in civil engineering materials and pavement design. She developed and delivered instructional materials in support of Caltrans’s transition to PG asphalt binders while at UC Berkeley. This effort contributed significantly to Caltrans’s implementation of PG asphalt binders in January 2006.
Dr. Leahy served as chair or a member of several Transportation Research Board committees and served on several National Cooperative Highway Research Program panels.
She has been an active member of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (AAPT) since February 1988. She was President of AAPT from 2005-2006 and became an Honorary Member of the Association in 2018. She helped AAPT implement a more robust paper review process.
Even in retirement, she remains dedicated to the technology that surrounds asphalt materials, a characteristic that defined her career.