One thing Jolanda Prozzi knows is that “the big picture” often needs a closer look.
“Have you ever looked at a mosaic close up?” she asks. “From a distance, it looks like a portrait of one thing. Close up, you can see it’s made up of hundreds of individual images. That’s the way I like to think of my research.”
Prozzi was hired on May 1 to manage TTI’s new Environment and Planning Program out of Austin, where she’d been employed for 10 years by the Center for Transportation Research at UT-Austin. Before that, she worked for Cambridge Systematics, the World Bank and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
She brings that broad-based perspective to her TTI research, working primarily in the areas of transportation planning, policy analysis (with emphasis on freight and border planning) and environmental planning. She’s particularly interested in linking regional planning with environmental initiatives. She sees the two as currently suffering from a bit of a disconnect.
“Planning requires a multidisciplinary approach,” states Prozzi. “It requires looking at transportation systems from a broader perspective to understand the effects of policy decisions on transportation systems.” There’s that “little picture helping to make up the big picture” theme again.
Context is also important when figuring out how the little pictures fit together. Linking regional planning with project planning, ensuring that environmental planning takes into account the special challenges of disadvantaged and minority communities (known as “environmental justice”) and understanding how various aspects of freight planning and policy analysis impact one another are just a few of Prozzi’s passions.
Keeping the complexity of the mosaic constantly in focus requires a little balance in her off hours, so Prozzi’s hobbies include reading, traveling (for fun!) and gardening, her favorite hobby. “It requires you to slow down — plants grow slower than paint dries,” she says. “But the rewards are incredible not only for you but for everyone else that sees your garden.”
Appreciating the impact of her work on others translates naturally to her research as well.
“I really enjoy delving into research questions, understanding the whole picture and developing win-win solutions to the largest extent possible,” Prozzi says. When asked about joining TTI, she smiles, saying, “I’m very excited about being a part of the TTI family and, especially, the creation of the Environment and Planning Program. We absolutely have fertile ground for growing our research program — we just need a little time and TLC to help it reach the next level.”