2010 Research Conference - Luncheon Session : Megaregions: A Framework for Planning in the 21st Century


Keynote Speaker(s)

Dr. Catherine Ross, Director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Institute of Technology

MegaregionsJust as the neighborhood is a critical building block for a city, cities are now the building blocks for megaregions which in turn are the new economic unit in world markets. Megaregions are connected cities and their surrounding areas, generally areas with a population of about 10 million. In the U.S., the 10 largest megaregions represent 80% of our economic activity and 7 of them have populations of 10 million people. By 2050, the U.S. population is projected to increase by another 130 million people.  How does it empower us to develop healthy cities and regions in the 21st century?

Ross is the editor of a new book: Megaregions: Planning for Global Competitiveness (Island Press, 2009), with a foreword by Richard Florida.

About the Speaker

Dr. Catherine RossDr. Catherine Ross is an internationally recognized expert on transportation and urban planning solutions for megaregions and has extensive experience in both the public and private sector. She is the director of Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development and the Harry West Professor. She also serves as vice president of Euquant, Inc. an Atlanta-based economic and planning consulting firm. In July 2009, she was selected to advise the Obama Administration on the first-ever White House Office of Urban Affairs.

She is the editor of MegaRegions: Planning for Global Competitiveness (Island Press, 2009) and the co-author of The Inner City: Urban Poverty and Economic Development in the Next Century (1997). For 20 years, Dr. Ross has conducted research on transportation and urban planning and how to make cities, neighborhoods and regions safer, healthier places for all to live. She has authored more than 300 reports, articles, books and monographs.

Her research provides solutions to numerous problems including global warming, affordable housing, traffic congestion, keeping local jobs in a global economy, air quality and childhood obesity. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy-China, the Federal Transit Administration and many city, state and local governments throughout the country.

Dr. Ross served as the first Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), an innovative regional state agency created by the Georgia Legislature in 1999 to help 13 counties out-of-compliance with clean air standards develop new transportation plans and initiatives to help them meet or exceed federal requirements. She was recently made a member of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). Dr. Ross is an Urban Land Institute Fellow and a National Science Foundation Advance Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. She has been widely recognized for the quality of her work and was the recipient of the “Find the Good and Praise It Award” presented in 1998 by Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater for her work on the National Personal Transportation Survey Team.

Dr. Ross served on the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Science, Transportation Research Board and on the board of the Eno Foundation and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). She served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences and has held several other national leadership positions including President of the National Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). Dr. Ross is also a member of the AAA Auto Club South Board of Directors.

Dr. Ross was owner of Catherine Ross & Associates for 25 years and has held a number of leadership positions at Georgia Tech, including vice provost for academic affairs, associate vice president for academic affairs, co-director of the Transportation Research and Education Center, and director of the College of Architecture 's doctoral program. She started as an assistant professor in the Graduate Planning Program in 1976, became an associate professor in 1984, and a full professor in 1990.

Ross earned a bachelor's degree from Kent State University in 1971, followed by a master's degree in regional planning from Cornell University in 1973. She earned her doctorate in city and regional planning from Cornell in 1979 and did post-doctorate work at the University of California, Berkeley.

She speaks regularly to conferences around the world from Beijing to New Orleans and New York.