RFF Summer Research Internship Program

Program Description

Summer 2023 Research Intern Applications have closed.

Applications for RFF's Summer 2023 Research Internships have closed. Please check back at the end of 2023 for an update on summer 2024 internships.

Do you want to begin a career in academic or policy research? Are you interested in contributing to impactful, balanced research that is aimed at improving environmental, energy and natural resource decisions? A summer research internship with Resources for the Future (RFF) might be right for you. The RFF summer internship program provides an opportunity for students to prepare for careers that engage in academic and policy-relevant research. Interns are essential members of the RFF Research and Policy Engagement team. They are responsible for providing technical support that, under the direction of RFF Fellows, allows for the production of compelling and impactful research that aligns with RFF’s mission of improving environmental, energy and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement.

Internships will run from June 12, 2023 to August 18, 2023. Start or end dates can be changed with an approved exception. All internships will be conducted in RFF’s offices in Washington, DC. Applications for the summer 2023 hiring season will close on March 17th, with interviews conducted by April 21st. Hiring decisions will be made by May 5th.

Summer 2023 Projects that will be supported by a summer intern include:

  • Advances and Challenges in Decarbonizing the Aviation Sector. The aviation sector contributes around 5 percent of global greenhouse gases, and demand for air travel is expected to triple by 2050. Decarbonizing the aviation sector is vital in achieving a net zero economy. This project aims to identify the advances and challenges in decarbonizing the aviation sector.
  • Exploring New Proposals for Energy Markets for Tomorrow's Grid. As the electricity sector decarbonizes and reliance on variable renewable resources grows, electricity markets will face increasing price fluctuations and a more diverse generation mix. While there may be increased opportunity for cost savings, markets may also need new structures to keep dispatchable resources on-line or encourage new investment to meet the demand from increasing electrification. In this research project the summer intern will explore different proposals for helping to ensure reliable service in an increasingly decarbonized system and important tradeoffs between longer term mechanisms to encourage investment and the role that energy price variation can play in activating flexible electricity demand among other issues.
  • Evaluation of Justice40 Implementation. The Justice40 initiative mandates that at least 40% of the benefits of certain federal government programs go to disadvantaged communities. Exactly which programs are covered and how the mandate is implemented has been left to individual agencies. This project would take stock of J40 implementation, summarizing how several federal agencies are defining “disadvantaged” and measuring “benefits”, and to the extent possible, summarizing early outcomes.
  • Modeling the Distributional Effects of Climate Policy. This project will update, improve, and expand RFF’s Social Welfare Incidence Model, a microsimulation model of the distributional impacts of climate policies (Gordon et al. 2015).  This model has been used to evaluate the distributional impact of carbon pricing across states (Williams et al. 2014) and income groups (Williams et al. 2015), and to look at the costs of other environmental policies including the Inflation Reduction Act (Roy et al. 2022). The project will complete an update to latest possible data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, State Energy Demand System, and other sources. We will then calculate expenditures shares across demographic groups, downscaling regional expenditure patterns to the state level building on state income and expenditure data. We will also build a model map to improve transparency and useability. As time allows, we will apply the model to policy scenarios involving decarbonization of the transportation and electricity sectors.
  • Effects of Weather Extremes on the Value of Outdoor Recreation. Increasingly frequent days with extreme temperature have potential to diminish the value of outdoor recreation and disrupt the outdoor recreation economy, which accounts for approximately 2 percent of US GDP. This project will make use of daily campground reservation and cancellation data over a ten-year period to estimate revealed preferences toward temperature extremes among federal campground users. We seek an intern with skills in econometric analysis and data visualization (including mapping) to complete a new analysis using the RFF Weather Variability Explorer (WeaVE) tool and a previously assembled and cleaned data set on campground use.
  • Economic and Workforce Development Policy in the Energy Transition. The intern will help RFF review literature on lessons from various US federal, tribal, regional, and state-based economic and workforce development programs to identify key lessons that could be relevant for the energy transition. These reviews will focus on programs intended to support a displaced workforce or underserved communities.
  • Improving a Leading Electricity Sector Environmental Policy Analysis Model. This project will develop new features for RFF's E4ST model that include a representation of the generation capacity reserve requirements in each region of the US, and representations of the proposed and potential wind farms off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, including their capacities, locations, and locations of connections to the existing power grid.
  • Assessing Potential Future Changes in Critical Minerals Prices & the Implications for EVs. The project is part of a broader assessment of driving forces for critical minerals supplies and prices, and the implications for costs of electric vehicle (EV) batteries and the vehicles themselves. Using engineering and economics related information collected by RFF about those driving forces and their implications, supplemented as needed by additional data collection, the intern will conduct an empirical analysis of prospective changes in future mineral prices and the knock-on effects for battery and vehicle costs.  The empirical analysis may entail a mix of statistical estimation and use of bottom-up models for battery production into which changes in mineral prices can be incorporated.