About Me


JessandJohannIn its most condensed form, this is my bio: early 30’s white who took a bunch of different turns in identifying what he wanted to do before he ended up somewhere in the realm of sustainable transportation and transportation policy. I enjoy mountain biking, bike commuting, running, and often like a good outdoorsy activity (I’m an Eagle Scout, so camping/hiking/climbing are rooted in my identity). At the same time I’m a lifelong gamer, a fan of science fiction, and am making my way through every single Oscar Best Picture winner of all time (I’ve seen roughly 50 of them so far). Have been married since 2014 to a wonderful woman, and been actively involved in my community here in Atlanta since 2010.
In long form, it’s probably best to put together a bit of a narrative. It amuses me that people will often say something like “interesting, how did you end up here?” when you tell them what you do. This is one of those questions that often requires a Tarantino-esque recitation of the major turning points in your life and the moments that served to cement or challenge your decisions, perceptions, and preferences. Fortunately, I have a web page that lets me do exactly that!
I was born in California, but raised in Oregon. As a kid I loved airplanes and dinosaurs, and spent most of my life planning to be an aerospace engineer. I devoured science, and for a long time it seemed totally plausible that I could someday accomplish my dream of studying A.E. at MIT on a G.I. bill after my time as a fighter pilot in the Air Force. But as these things go, my eyesight turned out to be very bad as a child, which at the time meant flying was not an option for me. By the time I was considering college, that dream had faded away.
Despite my love of the weather (yes, really), the music, and the scenery of Oregon, my teenage self decided I needed to explore a new and more diverse area, so I attended college in Ohio (at the College of Wooster). There I cultivated an interest in sociology and philosophy, particularly in the area of Critical Theory (an explicitly critical approach to social science and the humanities that challenges the assumptions of ‘positivist’ science, among other things). However, a chance read of a book called “Auto Mania” fueled a sudden curiosity in environmental sociology and ethics, which informed my undergraduate thesis and the trajectory of my life post-undergrad. After Wooster I considered environmental law and environmental philosophy careers, eventually selecting Georgia Tech to study under the esteemed Bryan Norton.
But here’s the next twist: as I made progress on my PhD in environmental policy, I came to realize more and more that what had gotten me enthused about environmental issues was actually the role of transportation in them. I began to involve myself in bike/ped advocacy, and devoured as much research as I could in the area. I started taking planning and civil engineering courses, and pretty soon I was building toward a career in sustainable transportation. Transportation advocacy is how I met my wife, it’s how I’ve found jobs and met great friends and it’s been an essential source of motivation for me. It’s been a strange journey, but one that I am truly grateful for.
Now, after my journey has come full circle to transportation, and my PhD is completed, I conduct research in transportation decision-making and sustainable transportation, and take great joy from teaching courses in public policy whenever the opportunity arises.