My name is Sofie Rhoads. I'm from Maryland. I go to the University of Maryland where I am a Masters in Community Planning candidate.
What got you interested in sustainability?
Many of my life experiences have made me interested in sustainability-related topics, although I can’t really pinpoint a specific moment when it started. I think it was really a combination of things – perhaps it was when I climbed up the inside of a German turbine in East Frisia in 2001, listening to its gentle “whoosh” and looking out over the cow pasture and the coast, or enjoying efficient European mass transportation, or perhaps during my Peace Corps service when we occasionally had to deal with electricity and water outages.
What sustainability, energy, and mobility issues are important to you?
Clean transportation is very important to me. I admit that I was spoiled when I lived in Germany from 2011-2016, since I could bike safely almost anywhere. I would like to help create policies that promote non-motorized modes of transportation not only because they’re environmentally friendly, but also because of their positive impacts on public health. I am also interested in renewable energy, water policy, and how technologies might help improve mobility for seniors.
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
I’ve been an intern with the City of College Park, Maryland for the last year and I also have a summer job at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. With the City, I’ve participated in discussions about Complete Streets and cycling signage and helped at the City’s welcome stand on Bike to Work Day. At the Environmental Finance Center, I just finished a literature review of anti-littering programs across the country to aid in policy recommendations for Prince George's County, Maryland. At the moment, I’m reviewing and evaluating certification applications for the Sustainable Maryland program which recognizes municipalities’ achievements across a number of categories.
What are your plans for the next five years?
I'll be working at the Department of Housing and Community Development for the State of Maryland when I start my final year of graduate school in August. I am looking forward to my job at the state level after my internship with a small city. After graduation, I would like to work in the transportation planning field.
What made you want to apply to SISE?
Transportation is my main area of focus in my graduate planning program and I am very interested in how technology will impact transportation and energy in the future. Some of these topics were discussed at this year’s Transportation Research Board annual conference and I look forward to discussing them with my peers from different fields.
What are you most looking forward to doing in the city?
I am a huge architecture nerd and really fell in love with Chicago on my first and only visit to the city in 2014.
Do you like cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
I love animals, and since cats are animals, I love them too.