Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship (TURF)
Through a competitive application process, the Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship (TURF) program is a unique eight-week summer fellowship for undergraduates to get experience in transportation research. Hosted at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, a hub of transportation innovation and expertise, fellows will work on research projects under the guidance of a research mentor. What can TURF Fellows expect from the program?
- Firsthand exposure to the research process;
- A chance to practice collecting & analyzing data, and other useful tasks;
- A cohort experience with other TURF fellows;
- Experience another university campus in an urban setting with robust multimodal network;
- The opportunity to spend the summer in beautiful Portland, Oregon!
At the end of the program, the students will write a final written reflection describing their research findings and experience of the program.
How to Apply: Timeline and Eligibility
TURF Applications are now closed for 2022. Want to stay updated on the TURF program? Fill out this interest form if you would like to be notified when TURF applications open in the future.
Students must be currently enrolled in a civil engineering, urban studies and planning, or transportation-related undergraduate degree program at any college or university. Preference will be given to applicants who have a strong interest in transportation and graduate education. Due to funding restrictions, international students are not eligible to apply.
Selected students will receive a $7,500 stipend and are expected to work 40 hours per week for eight weeks. Students are responsible for finding and funding their own lodging during their stay in Portland.
What Do TURF Fellows Do?
The TURF fellows are given adjacent workspaces within TREC's offices so that they can get acquainted with each other, and with the rest of TREC's staff, even though they may be working on different projects. TURF projects cover a wide variety of topics, depending on what current projects PSU faculty are working on and what students' interests are.
Examples of past TURF projects:
- Studying multimodal trip generation (including ride hailing, scooters, bike share, and freight) at multifamily apartments.
- Adding data to BikePed Portal, the national online nonmotorized count archive housed at and maintained by TREC at Portland State University.
- Collecting data on micromobility, including observation of interactions between pedestrians and e-scooter riders in congested areas in Portland
- Conducting field intercept surveys and collecting video data to determine how pedestrian safety improvements affect pedestrians' quality of service and comfort.
- Assisting with surveys and focus groups for study of the challenges transit riders face when transit agencies move to cashless fare payment systems.
We also organize programs to help introduce the group of students to Portland, the university, and the region's transportation community. Group activities have included:
- bike tours of the city,
- ice cream socials, and
- weekly professional development with faculty on topics like data visualization, data analysis, literature review 101, and the basics of survey development.
We also help TURF fellows to explore Portland through our local transportation network of e-bike share, e-scooter share, lightrail, TriMet bus system and more.
Past TURF Fellows
Since 2017 we have hosted twenty-four TURF fellows at Portland State University.
"I found Dr. Lubitow's workshop on qualitative and quantitative data really interesting. While I had known the distinction between both kinds of data, the value of this workshop came from our discussion on incentivizing marginalized populations to participate in qualitative data collection through interviews that have incentives like childcare and additional assistance."
-2022 TURF Fellow
"Spending ten weeks around some of the top researchers in the transportation field has helped me understand what it takes to conduct good research and how collaboration is an essential part of the process."
–2019 TURF Fellow
"I really enjoyed the workshops taught by the faculty of the program, particularly the first session where Dr. Jennifer Dill provided some helpful guidance about conducting literature reviews, which made them significantly less daunting. There was a good balance of theoretical and practical knowledge among the workshops, and I think that the topics were both engaging and relevant to our respective interests."
–2019 TURF Fellow
"I found the whole process of writing a paper as first author a particularly valuable experience because it was an opportunity that undergrads very rarely receive."
–2018 TURF Fellow
"I loved the networking happy hour because it gave me the opportunity to connect with professionals outside of academia and practice describing the work I'm involved in to a professional audience. I also really enjoyed being a part of weekly team meetings as I felt my work and input was valued by the other team members, and I never felt I had too much or too little work to accomplish."
-2018 TURF Fellow
Frequently Asked Questions
How many students will be in the program?
The size of a TURF cohort depends on the needs of faculty and the number of ongoing research projects; past groups have consisted of 5 to 7 students.
What will my work schedule be like?
TURF students are expected to work 40 hours per week, during business hours (roughly Mon–Fri 9–5), although some flexibility in hours can be arranged as needed.
Where will I be working?
Office space and work stations will be provided for TURF students in the TREC offices on the Portland State University campus, located in PSU's Fourth Avenue Building.
Are there any COVID-19 precautions?
Vaccinations are required for staff and faculty on PSU campus, and Portland State University has maintained a dynamic response to changing conditions with regard to the pandemic. See PSU's Covid Response page to find everything you need to know about Portland State's activities to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
How do I find out about future TURF program opportunities?
The TURF program is funded through an education grant from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC). NITC is a U.S. DOT supported UTC program housed at the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) of Portland State University.