Jose Holguin-Veras

William H. Hart Chair Professor and Director, Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment (CITE)
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dr. José Holguín-Veras is the William H. Hart Professor, and Director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment; and the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) Center of Excellence on Sustainable Urban Freight Systems at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He received his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering, Magna Cum Laude, from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1981; his M.Sc. from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1984; and his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1996. He has been a faculty at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, City College of New York (1997-2002), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2002-present). His work has received numerous awards, including the 2013 White House Champion of Change Award for his contributions to freight transportation and disaster response. His research emphasizes the integration, synthesis, and projection of the knowledge that exist in multiple disciplines to produce solutions to the complex and multifaceted problems—which have proven to be too complex to be solved by single-disciplinary approaches—that impact freight transportation and humanitarian logistics. His research taps into the knowledge of social sciences to build more realistic mathematical models of humanitarian logistics, and integrate cutting edge economic principles into freight transportation modeling, so that a complete picture could be developed on the broader impacts of transportation activity on the economy and the environment; and on the most effective ways to conduct post-disaster humanitarian logistics. His research blends field research and measurements, applied and basic research to ensure that theory relates to reality; and, ultimately, to a set of actionable policy recommendations that contribute to the betterment of the economy and society. Current research activities focus on three major areas: freight transportation demand modeling, sustainable freight policy, and humanitarian logistics. His work on freight demand modeling focuses on enhancing the realism of spatial price equilibrium (SPE) models, and development of simplified modeling techniques. His work on sustainable freight policy studies the interactions between the agents (e.g., shippers, carriers, receivers) involved in freight activity, to define ways to exploit these interactions to foster sustainable development and operations. An important third area, of profound human impact, focuses on the development of novel forms of humanitarian logistics. His research group has pioneered the multidisciplinary study of post-disaster humanitarian logistic operations. His research has: identified the key lessons learned from the response to the largest disasters of recent times; translated these lessons into actionable policy recommendations; and shared these suggestions with disaster response agencies. As part of the field work, his research group has conducted detailed analyses of the most prominent disasters of recent times, including: Hurricane Katrina, the Port-au-Prince earthquake, the tornadoes in Joplin and Alabama, Hurricane Irene, and the Tohoku disasters in Japan. His contributions to the solution of regional and national problems are numerous as they span modeling, policy, and research. In particular, his ability to transition research into practice—navigating complex implementation environments—has been recognized with appointments to prestigious positions. As a member of the Board of the New York State Thruway Authority—as the only researcher and Hispanic American in the board’s history—he helps oversee toll policy and the replacement of the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge, one of the largest construction projects in the US. He is overseeing all-electronic-toll-collection, toll setting, financing, asset management, and helps the agency reach a higher level of efficiency. His policy contributions also cover disaster response; as a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Disaster Research Roundtable, he advises the federal government in disaster response on the basis of his field research after large disasters and catastrophic events. He has been member of numerous panels for the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other agencies. His research, routinely implemented by practitioners, has been impactful. His work on freight generation and freight trip generation has led to the development of freight trip generation models—to be incorporated in the next edition of the ITE Trip Generation Manual—that are more accurate than any currently available. Equally transformative has been his research on freight tour models, freight origin-destination estimation, and others that are being incorporated into transportation modeling packages such as TRANSCAD, TRANUS, among others. One of his most visible contributions is the NYC off-hour-delivery project, which is having a transformative effect on urban freight policy. This project has blossomed into a potent freight demand management tool that has won the enthusiastic support of the private sector. It is estimated to lead to economic savings of 100-200/million dollars per year, and reductions of: 202.7 metric tons (t)/year of CO, 40t/year of HC, 11.8t/year of NOx, and 69.9 kg/year of PM10). Recognizing these significant impacts, the City of New York adopted OHD as part of its sustainability plan, and the Federal Highway Administration created a program to foster OHD, based on the one pioneered in NYC, and to replicate it in other US cities. Because of its impacts, TIME magazine identified off-hour deliveries as one of the “10 Ideas that Make a Difference” in traffic congestion. His leadership positions include: President of the Scientific Committee of the Pan-American Conferences of Traffic and Transportation Engineering, member of the Scientific Committee of the World Conference of Transport Research, Elected Member of the Council for the Association for European Transport, member of the International Organizing Committee of the City Logistics Conferences, member of technical committees at numerous professional organizations, and member of the editorial boards of the leading journals. He has led dozens of technical sessions, and has participated in numerous technical committees at the Transportation Research Board (e.g., Intermodal Freight, Urban Freight, Freight Economics, Freight Planning and Logistics, Road Pricing, Task Force of Freight Demand Modeling), European Transport Conference, World Conference of Transport Research, Pan-American Conference of Transport and Traffic Engineering, and others. He is a member of a number of high level public sector committees and boards. His current appointments include: United States Department of Transportation’s National Freight Advisory Committee (2013-2015), Board of the New York State Thruway Authority (2010-present), National Academy of Sciences’ Disaster Research Roundtable, National Academy of Sciences’ Committee for Review of USDOT Truck Size and Weight Study (2013-2014), Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Core Group on Community Engagement (June 2011-present), Advisory Panel for the NY-NJ-CT-PA Regional Catastrophic Planning Group (March 2010-2013), and Advisory Panel of the Mohawk Corridor Multimodal Transportation Study (2010-2012). The list of awards he has received includes: the 2013 White House Champion of Change Award, CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (2001-2006); the Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award in 1996, from the Council on University Transportation Centers, the Salute to the Scholars Award from the City University of New York (in 2000 and 2001); the 2006 Robert E. Kerker Research Award in recognition of Excellence in Research of Special Importance to Practitioners and Scholars of Public Administration and Policy in New York State; the 2007 School of Engineering Research Award; and a Proclamation from the Council of the City of New York (2001). He is a fellow of: State Academy of Public Administration (2006), International Road Federation (1991), Japanese International Cooperation Agency (1989), and the Organization of American States (1982-1984). According to Google Scholar, he is the most widely published and cited freight researcher in the world. He has more than 150 technical publications in the most prestigious venues, and, reflecting his influence, his work has been cited more than 1,300 times by his peers. He has given 15 plenaries, 40 invited lectures, and hundreds of presentations in professional conferences. As a Principal Investigator (PI), he has managed about $13.4 million in competitively awarded contracts from the most prestigious funding agencies: USDOT ($8.2 million), NSF ($3.9 million), New York and New Jersey State Departments of Transportation ($1.3 million), among others. These projects have focused on freight research ($8.4 million), disaster research ($2.8 million), road pricing ($1.2 million), and others ($1.0 million). As a Co-PI, he has worked on about $10 million in projects. He has extensive professional experience in both developing and developed countries. His professional experience includes the analysis of the intermodal alternatives for the trans-isthmian corridor that runs parallel to the Panama Canal, and the development of numerous national and regional transportation plans in Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and other countries. He has been consultant in transportation planning, modeling, and economics for international companies and financial institutions, such as The World Bank, United Nations, Inter-American Development Bank, among many others.


Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin Transportation M.S., Universidad Central de Venezuala Transportation B.S., Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo Civil Engineering

Focus Area

Decision Support Systems, Operations Research, Transportation