RFF Summer Research Internship Program

Program Description

Summer 2024 Research Intern Applications are now open.

Applications for RFF's Summer 2024 Research Internships are now open through March 22nd, 2024.

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 rigorous, policy-relevant research. Interns are essential members of RFF’s 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 10th, 2024 – August 16th, 2024. Start or end dates can be changed with an approved exception. All internships will be conducted in RFF’s offices in Washington, DC. Applications will be close on March 22nd, with hiring decisions made in early May.

Summer 2024 projects that will be supported by a summer intern include:

  • Opportunity Zones and Climate Resilience. In this project, the intern will join the RFF team in investigating the implications of Opportunity Zones for overall business exposure to flooding and future disaster costs. The Opportunity Zones were established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as a large place-based program to encourage long-term investments in low-income communities nationwide. Using a unique dataset on establishments, the team will examine whether the designations lead to more or fewer businesses and jobs exposed to flood risk, and the mediating impacts of climate beliefs, disclosure laws, local resilience planning, and other factors.
  • Charging Infrastructure and Consumer Preferences for Electric Vehicles. The US is expanding electric vehicle (EV) charging options with a significant investment in public charging stations. Major automakers are adopting Tesla's efficient NACS charging connector, allowing consumers to access Tesla's extensive charging network. Additionally, several car manufacturers are collaborating to build an extensive nationwide charging infrastructure supporting multiple charging standards and increasing accessibility for all EV users. The intern will empirically examine how these developments influence consumer choices in electric vehicles.
  • Exploring New Electricity Market Designs through Modeling. Traditional electricity markets are being challenged by the increased reliance on variable and intermittent renewable resources with zero marginal costs. To counter concerns about high energy price variability, revenue uncertainty for generators, and potential implications for resource and energy adequacy, several proposals for new forward markets are being developed. In this project the intern will customize and expand on an existing stylized electric system model to compare and contrast different market structures and their consequences for cost, reliability and future investments.
  • Improving RFF’s Greenhouse Gas Impact Value Estimator (GIVE) Model. The intern will help develop extensions to RFF’s integrated assessment model, GIVE, to account for thus-far omitted categories of climate impacts. As of 2023, GIVE accounts for climate change’s impacts on heat-related human mortality, agricultural markets, energy expenditures, and coastal flooding from sea-level rise, but other categories of effects remain unaccounted for, such as the impacts of wildfires, ocean acidification and warming, and climate feedbacks and tipping points. The intern will help build a new model component to account for as-of-yet unincorporated climate impacts such as one of those listed above.
  • Wholesale Electricity Market Designs to Support Grid Decarbonization. As the electricity sector decarbonizes, traditional market structures to procure energy and capacity may be insufficient to ensure long term resource adequacy and provide appropriate investment signals. RFF has been investigating new wholesale market designs and products that could address these concerns. The summer intern will work with members of RFF’s Electric Power Program to continue this evaluation and to identify areas where existing markets are falling short. For example, we may focus on a critical technology like utility scale batteries and other forms of energy storage and assess whether current markets provide sufficient incentives for the technology to grow at the rate needed to decarbonize.
  • Improving a Leading Electricity Sector Environmental Policy Analysis Model. This project will develop new features for RFF's Engineering, Economic, and Environmental Electricity Simulation Tool (E4ST) model, one of RFF's key electricty sector models. Internship focuses like include improving wind data including resource availability data; improving hydropower representation in the model; and researching how best to estimate the learning-by-doing benefits of technologies. Please note that RFF is potentially hiring two interns to support this work.
  • Assessing Drivers of Medium-Term Changes in Critical Minerals Supplies and Prices, and the Implications for Expanding Adoption of EVs. Topics within this research area include the effects of rising mineral demands and policy initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act on critical mineral production and investment; changes in critical mineral supply chains; and potential impacts on battery design innovation. A key near-term research objective is to develop an improved understanding of prospective changes in future critical mineral prices and the knock-on effects for battery and EV costs.
  • Climate Change and Risks to Water Infrastructure in Coastal Areas. Sea level rise can affect the functioning of drinking water and wastewater systems, which are also at risk for severe damage in coastal storms. In this two-part project, the intern will (1) help construct a database of the locations and types of assets at risk across the eastern US, merging with other datasets, including information on socially vulnerable populations, and (2) compile a summary of state government policies and programs to address water infrastructure challenges in coastal areas.

FAQs

Education level: By and large, RFF summer research internships are geared toward graduate students (either Masters or PhD), although some openings are available to advanced undergraduates. Please see individual job descriptions (linked above) for specific education requirements of the various roles.

Compensation: All RFF internships are paid. We offer a sliding pay scale for interns based on the level of completion in their degree programs, ranging from $17.50 per hour to $26 per hour.