Student Spotlight: Monica Landgrave-Serrano, University of Arizona


Monica Landgrave-Serrano, University of Arizona

Monica Landgrave-Serrano is a planning masters student at the University of Arizona. She is a NITC student scholar, a TRB Minority Student Fellow, and is currently working as a planning intern with the City of Tucson and also as a graduate research assistant on the NITC-funded project "Access to Opportunities: Redefining Planning Methods and Measures for Disadvantaged Populations." She is the president of UA's Graduate Planning Society, and is helping to build connections with UA transportation students in civil engineering.


Tell us about yourself:

My name is Monica Landgrave-Serrano and I was born in Tucson, but it was until I started graduate school last year at the University of Arizona that I moved to Tucson full-time. I lived in Mexico before, but I also had the opportunity to study in Spain, France, and Canada for about six months in each country. Living in so many different places has opened my eyes to the variety of public transportation systems, cycling infrastructures and pedestrian environments that are available. It has also made me realize that at the end of the day, everyone wants an efficient mobility option to get home safely, regardless of where they come from.

What and/or who has most significantly influenced your path in transportation?

My father, Fernando Landgrave, was the founder and first director of the Municipal Institute of Planning (IMPLAN) in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. During his ten years in this position I was able to closely follow the local urban transportation process and its impact on mobility. My father would show me the map of the city and explain to me where bike lanes would be added for the first time ever. The first year they were finally painted on, my whole immediate family, my parents, my brother, my sister, and I, would bike on them together every weekend just for the fun of it. We were all so excited to have these new bike lanes that made cycling on the street much safer. Thanks to my father, I was able to see for myself the positive role that urban transportation planning can play in a community.

You were selected as a Transportation Research Board Minority Student Fellow, and are slated to present your research at TRB's annual meeting. Tell us about that research?

How can we best capture the built and social environment contributors to perceived walkability that are missed by qualitative measures? This is the question that our research team, led by Arlie Adkins, PhD, has worked hard to answer this past year. At TRB'S Annual Meeting I will be talking about the development and testing of a toolkit that we developed to collect qualitative pedestrian environment data. This toolkit takes into account the different conceptions of walkability as expressed in multiple socioeconomic and sociocultural contexts. You are all invited to my presentation at TRB's Annual Meeting to hear more about this research project dedicated to improving walkability for everyone everywhere.

You're the president of the University of Arizona's planning student group—What are you most proud of accomplishing with that group, or at UA in general?

Being the President of the Graduate Planning Society is a great responsibility, but also an immense pleasure. I could not ask for a better group of students to work with in the Planning Program at the University of Arizona. Together, we have volunteered at the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank, we have organized a Planning Jeopardy with local professionals, and we have obtained funds to attend the American Planning Association (APA), Arizona Chapter, Annual Conference in Flagstaff. We are currently organizing an event to promote active modes of transportation in campus, and I am sure it will be a huge success.

This is an installment in a series of monthly Student Spotlights we'll be shining on students and alumni that are involved with National Institute for Transportation & Communites (NITC) universities. NITC is a university transportation consortium funded by the U.S. DOT, and is a Portland State-led partnership with the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah, University of Arizona, and University of Texas at Arlington.

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