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Collaboration Opportunities for Visiting Researchers

The laboratories and programs at Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, VA, help solve transportation challenges across the Nation. The following programs offer visiting researchers the opportunity to collaborate with researchers, engineers, and world-renowned experts in more than 100 disciplines.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act

The TFHRC hosts visiting researchers from academia, other Federal and State agencies, and other eligible organizations under the Office of Personnel Management’s Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) mobility program.

Under an IPA assignment, visiting researchers have access to TFHRC research facilities and equipment while working with TFHRC staff on projects of mutual interest. The terms of the IPA agreement, including cost-sharing arrangements, are negotiated between the participating organizations. The FHWA may agree to pay all, some, or none of the costs associated with an assignment. Costs may include basic pay, supplemental pay, fringe benefits, and travel and relocation expenses.

You must be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for an IPA assignment.

Please note that students employed in research, graduate, or as a teaching assistant and similar temporary positions are not eligible for an IPA assignment.

Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignments can be made only if the FHWA Executive Director determines that the assignment is of mutual benefit to the FHWA and to the non-Federal organization, and that it is for sound public purposes and furthers the goals and objectives of the participating organizations.

Research results are available to the public because the IPA agreement does not provide for confidentiality of research results. If confidentiality of cooperative research results is desired, a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) may be appropriate.

For additional information on research opportunities at TFHRC, contact the appropriate laboratory. If an opportunity appears promising, the TFHRC laboratory will submit a short description of the collaborative work to be performed, along with other relevant information, to the director of TFHRC for approval, and arrange to have an IPA Mobility Assignment Agreement initiated for review by the FHWA Executive Director.

For more information, contact Trish Laughman, TFHRC Human Resources Liaison, at

Eisenhower Grants for Research Fellowships (GRF) Program

Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for a fellowship at TFHRC under FHWA’s GRF Program. The purpose of the program is to acquaint undergraduate and graduate students with transportation research, development, and technology transfer activities at U.S. Department of Transportation facilities, including the TFHRC. Under this program, the recipient may receive a monthly stipend to relocate to the District of Columbia metropolitan area for a period of 9 to 12 months, which can be renewed or extended by FHWA. The students receive funding for education and gain valuable transportation research experience. The TFHRC benefits through the ability to bring in talented students to work on mission-related research projects and programs at TFHRC.

Recruitment is generally initiated by students completing an application in response to a specific GRF project description advertised on the Universities and Grants Programs Web site. 

Research Associateship Program

The postdoctoral research associateships program (RAP) is a competitive postdoctoral program administered in cooperation with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Fellowship Office. The postdoctoral program brings research scientists and engineers of unusual promise and ability to perform advanced research related to the FHWA’s mission.

The program introduces the latest university research results and techniques to FHWA programs, strengthens mutual communication with university researchers, shares TFHRC’s unique research facilities with the scientific and engineering communities in the United States, and provides a valuable mechanism for the transfer of research results from TFHRC to the scientific and engineering communities.

Detailed information on procedures and all necessary application materials and supporting documents are available at the NRC Research Associateships Program Web site. The Fellowship Office has the most current list of FHWA opportunities and how to apply.