Alexander, Serena

Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Research Associate, Mineta Transportation Institute




Dr. Serena Alexander is an urban and regional planning scholar, educator, policy advisor and activist with more than 15 years of diverse and hands-on experience. She joined the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University in 2016. Her research predominantly focuses on developing and implementing cutting-edge strategies to address climate change and the environmental impacts of transportation. Dr. Alexander has recently joined the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Climate Change Center (CCC) and the Office of the Under Secretary as a Visiting Scholar, where she provides leadership and research on the development of policy centered around all major transportation issues, such as infrastructure development, climate, innovation, and equity.

Since joining SJSU, Dr. Alexander’s research has been funded by DOT, FRA, Mineta Transportation Institute, California State University Transportation Consortium as well as several internal and local government sources. Examples of Dr. Alexander’s recent research include safeguarding equity in off-site Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) mitigation in Californiaevaluation of state level climate action plans, harmonizing climate change mitigation and adaptation in transportation and land-use planning in California citiesevaluation of local freight emission reduction strategies, housing and mobility toolkit for San Mateo County, ecological determinants of respiratory health, and harnessing the greenhouse gas emissions and equity potential of autonomous vehicles and on-demand mobility.

Before joining the SJSU faculty, Dr. Alexander conducted community economic development and environmental policy and planning research at the Center for Economic Development and the Great Lakes Environmental Finance Center at Cleveland State University, where she also received her doctorate in Urban Studies, specializing in urban policy and development. She holds master’s degrees in Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and Architecture from Azad University of Tehran, with a specialization in urban design. In addition to her academic achievements, Dr. Alexander has more than six years of experience working as a planning and urban design practitioner.

In the classroom, Dr. Alexander creates an active learning environment for students, providing real-world experiences and opportunities to partner with local communities and organizations. Her goal is to prepare students to address the urban and regional challenges of the century ahead. Given that these challenges are both complex and multidimensional, she employs a pedagogy that encourages innovative thinking and facilitates genuine experience. 

In her free time, she explores the city for diverse cuisine and engaging in arts and cultural activities.