Matthew Holian

Matthew Holian


What research questions currently preoccupy you?

How much greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the construction industry? What is the impact of high-speed rail construction on the economy in California’s central valley? What factors cause cities and neighborhoods to have greater pedestrian and bicyclist safety?

What personal factors contributed to your research?

In searching for research topics, it is important to find topics about which one is passionate. After all, successful completion of a research article can often take several years. A topic which is merely feasible or just “cute” will not sustain one’s interest for the long haul. So for example I think my research on pedestrian safety could actually help prevent some deaths. I find this to be a strong motivator!

What has been most challenging in your research?

How long it takes!

How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?

SJSU is an institution which values both research and teaching, and there have been many instances of positive synergy across these two areas in my current position. Also at SJSU, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Mineta Transportation Institute. Transportation is a critical area of study as it impacts our quality of life, economy, and environment. Thus working with MTI has provided me with the opportunity to do research that I am passionate about and for which there is also a strong demand.

A hidden (research) talent:

Finding simple solutions to complex problems. Sometimes our most basic tools are all that is needed to generate valuable new knowledge.

One book that changed your life (or research) & why:

Understanding Institutional Diversity by Elinor Ostrom. The social world is extremely complex, but we can make slow and steady progress in understanding it through hard work and careful application of our methods.

A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:

I spend about 30 minutes a day reading up on local and national news. I also read several blogs, one of which is

Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:

Pursue truth.

RSCA Accomplishments

2015. “Household Demand for Low Carbon Public Policies: Evidence from California,” Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 2(2), 205–234.
(with Matthew Kahn) 2014. “The Effect of Social and Economic Development on Air Pollution in Indian Cities,” Environment and Urbanization Asia, March(5), 1–15."