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Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning

Policy Analysis header image of visualization
Analysts in the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning Division enable transportation planners to understand impacts by producing visualizations such as this example of a digital elevation model using a lidar scanned arial photo of large urban area. (Ungrim/Adobe Stock)

About Us

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning Division provides expertise across all aspects of transportation policymaking and program/project delivery lifecycle, including interpretation, implementation, evaluation, and adaptation.

Our team of experts and specialists, include policy analysts, data scientists, geographic information system (GIS) and geospatial specialists, community planners, geographers, environmental protection specialists, and strategic planners to carry out work on a range of transportation-related topics, building and sustaining high-impact programs. We collaborate with our sponsors, such as FHWA, FTA, and National Park Service, to build strong relationships and yield high-impact outcomes.

The goal of our work is to visualize, analyze, and better understand all aspects of transportation to empower our sponsors to streamline processes and make informed, data-driven management and transportation planning decisions.

Our Capabilities

Economic and Policy Analysis

  • Leverage a variety of techniques to address today’s transportation policy questions with focus areas including National Environmental Protection Act and permitting, infrastructure resilience, sustainability, noise, and air quality.
  • Initiate, facilitate, and implement strategic planning efforts and provide targeted program design support related to policy implementation, rulemakings, and working groups.

Applied Data Science

  • Use cutting-edge skills to gather, manage, visualize, and analyze data.
  • Translate, simplify, and effectively communicate the data to a wide audience.
  • Use numerous forms of mapping to advance spatial analysis and tools.

Impartial Investigations and Program Evaluations

  • Conduct research, analysis, and evaluation on a range of project components, including interview and survey design, policy analysis, statistical analysis, qualitative data analysis, surveying and forecasting, and GIS.
  • Build, sustain, and evaluate impactful programs by incorporating strategic planning into everything we do.

 

Meet Our Team

View selected staff biographies.

Chris Roof

Chris Roof

Chief of Environmental Measurement and Modeling 
Acting Chief, Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning
BS Interdisciplinary Electrical Engineering and Music, Boston University College of Engineering

As chief of the Environmental Measurement and Modeling Division and acting chief of the Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning Division, Christopher Roof has supported numerous transportation-related acoustics and air quality projects. His two-plus decades of technical experience include measurement, modeling, and analysis of noise, fuel burn, and emissions for all modes of transportation.

Roof provides technical support to the FAA Office of Environment and Energy (AEE). He helped lead the development of aviation environmental models, including the Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT), a model that enables analysis of noise, fuel burn, and emissions interdependencies at multiple levels. Roof also helps FAA coordinate research efforts, including those that support environmental tools. He has partnered with NASA conducting measurement programs designed to develop and improve algorithms, as well as add new aircraft to model databases. Roof undertakes technical analyses for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aircraft Noise Committee (A-21) and the National Academy of Sciences, and supports both FAA and National Parks Service (NPS) related to aircraft overflights of national parks.

He has provided environmental support in a number of other areas, including investigations of potential impacts of hovercraft noise on humans and wildlife for the United States Postal Service (USPS), FRA’s National Magnetic Levitation Transportation Technology Deployment Program, FHWA’s Traffic Noise Model (TNM), a FMCSA analysis of potential noise impacts of increased safety inspections, a Department of Energy (DOE) analysis of electrical transmission lines, and the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise (FICAN) assessment of noise modeling tools in national parks.

The team Roof leads supports the implementation of advanced vehicle technologies for FAA, NASA, and private industry; undertakes cutting-edge research on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences; fields models that are used around the world; and works with diverse interdisciplinary groups within the U.S. DOT Volpe Center to seek innovative solutions to the nation’s transportation system challenges. He is active with multiple committees of the Transportation Research Board.

View Christopher Roof’s LinkedIn profile.

Jhoset Burgos-Rodriguez 

Jhoset Burgos-Rodriguez headshot

Policy Analyst
JD, University of Puerto Rico
MS Biology and Environmental Science, University of Rhode Island
BS Integrative Biology, University of Puerto Rico 

Jhoset Burgos Rodríguez is a policy analyst in the Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning Division at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center. He has worked at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2022. Rodriguez’s work focuses on environmental permitting and compliance, regulatory analysis, equity and language accessibility, health and transportation policy, and infrastructure project delivery acceleration.  

He holds a law degree from the University of Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR), a master’s degree in biology and environmental science from the University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI), and a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of Puerto Rico. Before joining the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, Rodriguez was a judicial law clerk at the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, a quarantine officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a senior policy analyst and Sea Grant Knauss Fellow at the U.S. Department of the Interior. He also worked on science and environmental law and policy at local NGOs including the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust and Para la Naturaleza. He is an admitted member of the Puerto Rico Bar.  

Joan F. Chu 

Environmental Protection Specialist
JD, University of Maryland School of Law
MPA, Cornell University
BA Government and Politics; Sociology, University of Maryland 

 Joan Chu works as an environmental protection specialist at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center. She advises on matters relating to law, policy, regulations, and other directives involving environmental and climate issues for various modes within U.S. DOT. Chu’s background is public interest-facing and includes matters of administrative and environmental law, prevention, and enforcement and compliance work. 

Prior to joining the U.S. DOT Volpe, she worked in Washington, D.C. supporting CAFE enforcement and compliance activities. Chu is an attorney and received her JD from the University of Maryland School of Law (Baltimore, MD) with a concentration in environmental law. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) and dual baccalaureates in government and politics, as well as sociology from the University of Maryland (College Park, MD). 

Gina Filosa 

Filosa headshotPolicy Analyst
MA Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University
BA Environmental Studies, Providence College

Gina Filosa joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center in 2006. She provides technical research and policy support focused on resilient transportation, environmental stewardship, and energy. Filosa has also led several policy and program evaluations, including an assessment of FTA’s Environmental Management System Technical Assistance and Training Program and an evaluation of FHWA’s eNEPA, an online workspace and collaboration tool used to facilitate the environment review process. She recently led a programmatic assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from transit projects and developed a greenhouse gas estimator tool that enables users to estimate the partial lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions generated from the construction, operations, and maintenance phases of projects across select transit modes.

Filosa holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University (Medford, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Providence College (Providence, RI).

Zoe McAlear

Zoe McAleer headshotPolicy Analyst
MCP Environmental Policy and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BA Growth and Structure of Cities

Zoe McAlear has worked as a policy analyst at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2020. Her work has supported FHWA, Office of the Secretary, the National Park Service, and other federal agencies on research, policy analysis, and program development. McAlear is interested in environmental policy and planning, with a focus on environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation in the transportation sector. Prior to joining the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, she was an AmeriCorps VISTA at a community development corporation in East Boston. McAlear holds a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Haverford College (Haverford, PA).  

Amy Plovnick 

Plovnick headshot

Policy Analyst
Master of City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MCP Environmental Policy and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BA Political Science and Environmental Studies, Washington University in St. Louis 

Amy Plovnick has worked as a community planner at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2016. She supports FHWA, National Park Service, and other federal agencies on research, program implementation, and policy analysis work. Plovnick is interested in the connections between transportation and the environment, and much of her work focuses on infrastructure resilience, sustainability, active transportation, and public health.

Previously, Plovnick worked on renewable energy and energy efficiency policy at two nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C. She holds a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in political science and environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO).

Carson Poe 

Poe headshotTransportation Industry Analyst
MA Energy and Environmental Analysis, Boston University
BA Interdisciplinary Studies/Environmental Policy and Planning, Appalachian State University

Carson Poe is a transportation industry analyst in the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Center for Planning, Policy, and Environment. His areas of expertise include climate change mitigation, innovative and sustainable use of transportation right-of-way, and pipeline emergency response. Poe has led research efforts to explore the implications of sustainable land management practices along highways, including carbon sequestration and accommodating photovoltaic noise barriers, among other sustainability-minded technologies.

Poe holds a master’s degree in energy and environmental analysis from Boston University (Boston, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies/environmental policy and planning from Appalachian State University (Boone, NC).

Gina Barberio Solman 

Solman headshotEnvironmental Protection Specialist
MA Energy and Environmental Analysis, Boston University
BA Environmental Analysis and Policy, Boston University
Pronouns: she/her

Gina Solman is a senior project manager and environmental protection specialist who has worked at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2005. She solves complex problems across all modes of transportation, analyzing policy and building consensus on technical topics of national concern.

Solman specializes in noise policy and facilitates interagency coordination on a range of topics. She leads multidisciplinary teams of engineers, scientists, and planners to serve clients and the public good. Solman conducts research to inform the development of policies, regulation, and guidance in support of FHWA, FAA, FRA, and Department of Housing and Urban Development to assess transportation-related noise and other technical areas. This work includes strategic design, qualitative and quantitative analysis, evaluation and risk assessment, facilitation, and technical writing. 

She is the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Federal Women’s Program Manager and a representative on the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Work Group. 

GIS Team 

Gary Baker

Baker headshot

Geospatial Team Leader
MA Software Engineering, Harvard Extension School
BS Geography, University of Massachusetts

Gary Baker joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center as a GIS specialist in 1996. He is the GIS team leader and has more than 20 years of experience working with GIS. Baker also has extensive software development and data science skills. Since joining U.S. DOT, he has provided expertise in mapping, spatial analysis, and custom GIS solution development for all modes of transportation, from the local to global scale. Baker now leads a team of GIS specialists, working directly with sponsors and providing critical expertise throughout Volpe on all aspects of geospatial visualization and analyses.

 

Selected projects that Baker has been involved with include:

  • Alternative Fuel Transportation Optimization Tool (AFTOT)
  • National Park Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP)
  • Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT)
  • Management of FAA’s unstaffed infrastructure (UISGIS)
  • Assessing aviation's global emissions
  • Noise modeling and measurement in Grand Canyon and Southern Florida
  • Rail traffic simulations
  • GIS web-based FRA grant tracking
  • Positive train control and hazmat risk analyses
  • Highway rail crossing and historical rail incident geolocation

Alexander Oberg

Oberg headshotGeospatial Specialist
Certificate in GIS, Pennsylvania State University
BA Geography and Environmental Studies, Middlebury College

Alexander Oberg joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center as a geospatial specialist in 2016. He has an extensive background in GIS, and prior to joining the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, was a GIS support associate for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries. Oberg provided front-line reference and one-on-one research consultation support to a broad GIS user community, including current and future professionals in transportation, urban planning, and environmental fields. He also prepared and led GIS presentations and workshops to illustrate and explain GIS analyses, tools, models, and applications.

In addition, Oberg has two years of environmental consulting experience in the private sector, primarily involving contracts with federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement. His work included GIS analysis, mapping and relational database creation, and maintenance.

Sara Secunda

GIS Specialist
MA Geography, Portland State University
BS Geography, University of Vermont

Sara Secunda joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center as a GIS specialist in 2000. She has been involved in GIS-based analyses and developing customized GIS solutions for various modes of transportation. As project lead for FHWA’s HEPGIS mapping website, Secunda assisted in development of the interactive mapping application, which serves maps and provides an analysis tool for transportation planners. She is currently the website manager, updating and maintaining the website’s functionality, maps, and data.

Since joining U.S. DOT, Secunda has provided GIS analysis and support for the National Park Service and FAA’s National Park Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP) program. This support includes mapping air tour and air flight layers, and generating various input to noise models. She also provides GIS analysis and mapping for FHWA’s Alternative Fuel Corridors project.
Before joining the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, Secunda worked for 11 years as a GIS specialist in federal and local government and private industry.